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 90 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, the best Shark vacuums, and the best vacuums.
The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is the best upright vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested. This vacuum easily cleans pet hair and debris from high-pile carpets without losing suction as its dirt compartment fills up. It rolls on one big ball-like wheel, making it easier to maneuver in tight or cluttered areas.
It has an automatic surface type adjustment feature, which helps it deliver fantastic performance on other surface types, too. You can use it in a semi-handheld configuration with its wand and hose, helping clean areas like stairs or your car. It also comes with several tools and brushes, like a turbo brush for cleaning fabric-covered furniture and a soft bristle brush for use on delicate objects like lampshades. Thanks to its bagless design and washable filters, it incurs virtually no recurring costs.
Unfortunately, while it's not too heavy in your hand, it's a fairly heavy vacuum overall, so it's not the most portable. It also doesn't have easy-clip mechanisms for its tools, making it harder to assemble than some other Dyson models. Otherwise, it's a great choice for anyone looking for a vacuum for high-pile carpets. It's even one of the best vacuums with good suction that we've tested.
If you're looking for an upright vacuum that you can use in a handheld mode, try the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright. It doesn't perform as well as the Dyson Ball Animal 2 on high-pile carpets, but you can pick it up and use it in a handheld configuration with its wand and hose, which gives you more range when cleaning areas like your car's interior or staircases. While it struggles a bit more with small debris like baking soda on high-pile carpets, it still delivers impressive performance on that surface type. It has a HEPA filter, which is great if you're concerned about allergens, and it incurs virtually no recurring costs as long as it's well-maintained. Unfortunately, it's harder to maintain than the Dyson.
Go for the Dyson if you want the vacuum with the best overall performance, but consider the Shark instead if you want the option of using your vacuum in a handheld configuration.
The best vacuum for high-pile carpet with a stick/handheld design that we've tested is the Dyson V15 Detect. This cordless stick vacuum delivers exceptional overall performance on both low and high-pile carpets, where it sucks up pet hair as well as fine and large debris like baking soda or sand. It features three different suction power modes and has a gate on its motorized head that you can rotate to clean on different surface types.
Its lightweight, compact design makes it easy to pick up and carry, and reconfiguring it into a handheld vacuum is a simple process. Its onboard tool storage allows you to carry around two of its included accessories as you clean. It also comes with a slim vacuum head with a laser light that makes it easier to see small debris. Battery performance is acceptable overall, with a runtime of roughly anywhere between 10 to 75 minutes depending on the power setting and usage habits, but this can vary in the real world.
Unfortunately, its high suction force can cause it to drag around some lighter rugs or even make it hard to push around on some carpets. There are a few parts that need regular cleaning, though it doesn't have many recurring costs thanks to its washable filters and bagless design. Still, this vacuum's versatility and broad selection of tools and accessories make it one of the best cordless vacuums that we've tested.
If you're looking for a more affordable stick vacuum but don't want to give up much in the way of performance on high-pile carpet, consider the Simplicity S65S. It comes with far fewer accessories than the Dyson V15 Detect and lacks a surface-type adjustment feature, but it's significantly cheaper and is amazingly effective when it comes to clearing debris from high pile carpet, though it struggles a little more with debris like baking soda. Few parts need regular cleaning, so maintenance requirements aren't very demanding. Its allergen-trapping HEPA filter is also the only part that occasionally needs replacing, so recurring costs are impressively low. Unfortunately, its maximum battery life of over 30 minutes is significantly less than that of the Dyson. However, it's worth noting that this can vary in the real world.
Get the Dyson if you want a wider assortment of tools and accessories, but consider the Simplicity to save some money without sacrificing capability.
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.
It 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, like 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.
The best robot vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested is the Neato D8. This robot vacuum easily cleans debris like pet hair or sand on high-pile carpets, though it struggles a little more when with finer material like baking soda. Its dense rubber wheels allow it to roll quite smoothly on carpets, and its LIDAR navigation system lets it develop fairly efficient cleaning routes.
Its compact design makes it easier to store and allows it to maneuver under tables and couches. You can use its companion app to change its suction power mode, see a map of its coverage area, check cleaning session history, or set up boundary lines to prevent it from entering certain areas. The vacuum feels impressively well-built and isn't too demanding in terms of regular maintenance. Depending on your usage habits and choice of power mode, it supplies roughly anywhere between 40 to over 70 minutes of runtime, which should be enough to clean most spaces.
That said, its battery has roughly half the capacity of the older Neato Botvac D7, so the D8 doesn't last as long on a single charge. It has quite a few parts that need regular replacing, so recurring costs are high, but this is normal for robot vacuums. Also, it can struggle to negotiate around low-lying obstructions like electrical cords and rug tassels. Otherwise, if you're looking for a hands-free way of keeping your carpets clean, this is a good option.
The best vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested in the budget category is the BISSELL PowerForce Helix. This affordable upright model delivers a great performance on high-pile carpets, where it easily picks up pet hair and most debris. It has five different surface-type settings, including one for high-pile carpets, so you can adapt as you clean your home.
Despite its bulkier size, it feels light in your hand. It has a good-sized dirt compartment, and it doesn't lose suction as it fills up, so it's suitable for longer cleaning sessions. You can change it to a semi-handheld configuration, which helps clean your car or stairs. There are also some accessories included, like an extension wand for hard-to-reach spots and a soft-bristle brush for delicate objects like curtains. Only the pre-motor filter needs regular replacing, so recurring costs are low.
However, it has a short hose that some may find limiting when using it in its semi-handheld configuration. Also, it lacks a rotating head and isn't very maneuverable, so it may not be ideal if you need to vacuum under low furniture like a couch or coffee table. That said, if you want an affordable option that can tackle high-pile carpets, it's a solid choice.
Jun 11, 2021: Replaced Dyson V11 Animal with Dyson V15 Detect as 'Best Stick/Handheld Vacuum For High-Pile Carpet'. Added Simplicity S65S as new 'Cheaper Alternative'. Replaced iRobot Roomba S9 with Neato D8 as 'Best Robot Vacuum For High-Pile Carpet' pick. Removed Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister from main recommendations. Added iRobot Roomba S9 and Dyson V11 Animal to Notable Mentions.
Apr 13, 2021: Checked picks to make sure we're still recommending the best products and that they're available. Added the Shark Wandvac System WS620 to Notable Mentions because of its impressive performance on high-pile carpets.
Feb 12, 2021: Checked that picks are still the best recommendations, and that the products are in stock.
Dec 15, 2020: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy, with no changes to product picks.
Nov 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.
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.