If you have thick shag rugs or fluffy high-pile carpet in your home, you probably know how difficult it can be to get debris out. Some vacuums don't provide enough suction to pick up small debris like sand. Others may have heads that are too tall, so they end up gliding over dirt. An ideal vacuum for cleaning high-pile carpet should have a brushroll and a turbo brush for agitating carpet fiber and dislodging debris. It should also have a surface type adjustment feature that allows it to adapt to better suit your carpet.
We've tested over 50 vacuums, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums for high-pile carpet you can buy. These picks were selected not only based on their performance on both low and high-pile carpet, but also their design, feature set, and price. For more buying recommendations, take a look at our list of the best vacuums for carpets, the best cordless vacuums, and the best vacuums.
The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is the best vacuum for high-pile carpet with an upright design that we've tested. It has an automatic surface type adjustment feature, which helps it perform outstandingly well on high-pile carpet. You can also use it in a wand and hose configuration if you want to clean more difficult-to-reach areas, like inside your car.
This fairly versatile model has a remarkable performance on bare floors and low-pile carpet, so it's also well-suited for other places in your house that may not have high-pile carpet. It comes with a few added accessories like a dedicated pet grooming tool to improve its cleaning scope. While it doesn't have on-board storage for all of them, you can fit some of the tools and brushes onto the vacuum directly so you can take them with you as you clean. It's somewhat easy to maintain, although some parts need ongoing maintenance, and there are virtually no recurring costs as long as each part is taken care of.
Unfortunately, its build quality is pretty mediocre, and its transparent plastic dirt compartment feels prone to cracking if dropped. Many parts also need assembling before you can use it. Its parts don't have an easy-clip mechanism either, so it can be a little tricky to put them together or take them apart. However, this upright model is the best vacuum for thick carpet that we've tested and is a suitable choice for heavily carpeted rooms.
If you have a lot of carpet to clean but you're looking for an upright vacuum that can also be reconfigured into a handheld design, try the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright. While the Dyson Ball Animal 2 offers an even better overall performance on high-pile carpet, the Shark can be used as a handheld with its wand and hose. This design makes it easier to tackle hard-to-reach places like staircases. Although it struggles a bit more with small debris like baking soda on high-pile carpet, it can clean pet hair and most large debris on this surface type. It also feels sturdy and it has virtually no recurring costs so long as you regularly maintain its parts. Unfortunately, it has somewhat demanding maintenance needs and it also comes with fewer tools and brushes than the Dyson.
If you're tackling mostly flat, open areas like your living room's carpet or rug, check out the Dyson. However, if you prefer that your vacuum can be reconfigured into a handheld design to clean stairs or other narrow spaces, go for the Shark.
The best stick/handheld vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested is the Dyson V11 Animal. This cordless stick/handheld does a great job of picking up everything from pet hair to baking soda on shaggy carpeting, though it may struggle a bit with larger, coarser material like sand. It comes with a wide range of tools and brushes to help you not only clean tight corners and small spaces but also curtains and furniture upholstery.
It's a bagless model with reusable filters, so recurring costs are practically nonexistent. Also, it's fairly easy to maintain, with an intuitive design that can be quickly disassembled for maintenance or reconfigured into a handheld to clean spots like the inside of your car. While it's possible to drain its battery in under 10 minutes if you run it continuously on its highest power setting, you can extend its runtime to over 75 minutes if you're careful. Thanks to its reasonably lightweight construction and slim profile, it's also quite maneuverable.
Unfortunately, some users may be put off by its plasticky build quality. It also has a very lengthy recharge time, as it takes roughly four hours to completely replenish its battery. Still, thanks to its impressive performance and low recurring costs, it's one of the best vacuums for high-pile carpet that we've tested.
The Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine is the best canister vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested. This corded canister model does a great job of sucking up most kinds of debris on this kind of surface, ranging from pet hair to material like sand or baking soda, with very little drop in performance as its dirtbag fills up. Its seven-level suction adjustment feature should allow you to quickly adjust to changing surface types.
The vacuum itself has excellent build quality and feels quite premium. User maintenance is remarkably easy, as the few parts that need regular maintenance are readily accessible. Its allergen-trapping HEPA filter should be helpful for owners of heavily-shedding pets too. Its handle is equipped with a built-in LED light to illuminate dark spots, which is helpful if you're using it in its semi-handheld configuration to clean under a couch or a bed.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few parts that need to be routinely replaced, such as its dirtbag and filters, so recurring costs can add up over time. Its hose is quite short, which can make cleaning high-placed shelves a little tricky. Otherwise, its blend of performance, ease of maintenance, and premium build quality also make it one of the best multi-surface vacuums that we've tested.
If you're looking to spend less on a canister vacuum without giving up too much in the way of performance, consider the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. It isn't nearly as well-built as the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine and lacks an allergen-trapping HEPA filter, but the Eureka is substantially cheaper. While it doesn't perform quite as well as the Miele on high-pile carpet, it still does a good overall job on this kind of surface, as it clears pet hair and most fine or coarse debris. It has a lightweight, maneuverable plastic body with a bagless design and washable filters, so recurring costs are practically nonexistent. Unfortunately, it has a very short power cord, so you may need to swap outlets when cleaning a bigger room.
Get the Miele if you want a better-built vacuum with superior overall performance, but consider the Eureka if you're looking to save some money.
The iRobot Roomba S9 is the best robot vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested. While most robot vacuums have trouble on this surface type, this very well-built model has a good overall performance on shaggy carpets and rugs. Thanks to its navigation system, it can also return to areas that it deems in need of more cleaning.
It doesn't have too much of a problem maneuvering since it can create an efficient cleaning route through your home to avoid obstructions. If you have different kinds of textiles around your home, it also has three power levels, and it can automatically adjust its head to suit different surface types. It has an outstanding battery performance too and can last just under 50 minutes on its most powerful mode. Its battery life can last up to 155 minutes if used more conservatively as well. If you're looking for more features, its companion app allows you to schedule cleaning times, set up virtual boundary markers, and see your cleaning history.
Unfortunately, it has several parts that need regular maintenance. Some of these parts also need to be replaced over time, which can add up. That said, if you have a lot of carpet in your home and you're looking for a more hands-off, automated cleaning experience, this vacuum is a suitable choice.
The best vacuum for high-pile carpet on a budget is the BISSELL PowerForce Helix. This corded upright has an impressive price-to-performance ratio, as it does a great job of cleaning pet hair as well as coarse and fine material like sand or baking soda on high-pile carpets. Suction performance remains consistent as its generously-sized dirt compartment fills up, which is great if you're dealing with a larger mess.
While there are a couple of parts you need to maintain regularly, they're fairly simple to access. Its bagless design keeps recurring costs low, as its pre-motor filter is its only disposable part. Despite its bulky design, it's quite lightweight, and its integrated carrying handle makes it slightly easier to carry from room to room. You can use it in a semi-handheld configuration with its included assortment of tools, including a soft-bristle brush to clean messes from delicate surfaces.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have a rotating head, which can make it a little difficult to maneuver in cramped areas. Its all-plastic construction feels fragile in some parts, and its hose is quite short. Still, if you're looking for a budget-friendly vacuum that can cope with messes on dense carpeting, this is a good choice.
11/24/2020: Slight changes to the text for accuracy and clarity; no change in product recommendations.
11/03/2020: Replaced the Neato Botvac D7 with the iRobot Roomba S9 for 'Best Robot Vacuum For High-Pile Carpet'. Added the Neato Botvac D7 and Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ to Notable Mentions.
09/22/2020: Replaced the Miele Classic C1 with the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine for 'Best Canister Vacuum For High-Pile Carpet'. Added the Miele Classic C1 and Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best vacuums for high-pile carpet for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our vacuum reviews ranked by their performance on high-pile carpet. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no vacuum is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.