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 80 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 upright vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested. This vacuum easily clears 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, which makes 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 as well. You can use it in a semi-handheld configuration with its wand and hose, which helps with cleaning areas like stairs or your car. It also comes with a variety of 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, which makes 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 can be used 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's equipped with 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 more difficult 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 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 clean not only 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. It's also 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.
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.
If you want a more affordable canister vacuum for high-pile carpets, you may want to consider the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. It's not as well-built or easy to maintain as the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine, but it's much less expensive and still delivers a good performance on high-pile carpets. It also uses a bagless design and washable filters, so it incurs practically no recurring costs. You can use it in a semi-handheld configuration with its wand and hose if you want to clean an out-of-reach area like your car's interior, and it's much lighter and easier to carry around than the Miele. However, it has a very short power cord, so you may need to swap outlets relatively often when you're cleaning a big room.
Go for the Miele if you're looking for the canister vacuum with better performance on high-pile carpets. Try the Eureka instead if you prefer a model with virtually no recurring costs or if you just want something more affordable.
The best robot vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested is the iRobot Roomba S9. Unlike most robot vacuums, this well-built model delivers a good performance on high-pile carpets, easily clearing pet hair and picking up most debris like sand and baking soda. It's very good at maneuvering itself, thanks to a navigation system that allows it to create an efficient route through a room.
It has an auto-adjusting head for different surface types and is also equipped with a dirt sensor that allows it to detect spots that need extra cleaning. Also, using the companion app, you can create a virtual map of your home, make cleaning schedules for different areas, and set up virtual boundary lines that the vacuum won't cross. Its battery life is fantastic, as it gives you roughly 45 minutes of continuous runtime even if you use the most powerful suction mode. Using the most battery-efficient settings, it can last for more than two and a half hours.
Unfortunately, it's fairly difficult to maintain since many parts need to be serviced regularly. Its recurring costs are also quite high since several parts need to be replaced periodically, including the HEPA filter and rubber brushrolls. That said, its performance on high-pile carpets makes it stand out, and it's also one of the best robot vacuums we've tested.
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 easily adapt as you clean different areas in your home.
Despite its bulkier size, it feels quite 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 to be replaced regularly, 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.
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.
Sep 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.