If you have thick 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 lets it adapt to better suit your carpet.
We've tested over 100 vacuums, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums for high-pile carpet you can buy. These picks were selected based on their performance on both low and high-pile carpet and also their design, feature set, and price. For more buying recommendations, look at our lists of the best vacuums for carpets, the best cordless vacuums, the best Shark vacuums, and the best vacuums.
The Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright is the best upright vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested. This bagless upright does a fantastic job cleaning pet hair and larger debris like sand from this surface type, though you might need to make an extra pass to fully clear fine debris like baking soda. The vacuum head also features three levels of surface adjustment, allowing you to change its height on the fly depending on the surface that you're cleaning.
Its 'Lift-Away' design makes it a little easier to clean hard-to-reach spots by allowing you to unlatch its main canister and then carry it around, though be aware that it's somewhat heavy. You can fit a turbo brush, a crevice tool, or a dedicated upholstery tool to the end of its wand, depending on your cleaning needs. The vacuum's bagless design and washable, reusable pre-motor and HEPA filters keep recurring costs to a minimum.
However, it has quite a few parts that need regular cleaning. Also, its bulky dirt compartment can get in the way when trying to clean under tables and chairs, while rugs can occasionally get caught in its main brushroll. Its vacuum hose is also short, making it a little tricky to clean some spots when using it in its semi-handheld configuration. Still, thanks to its strong suction performance, it's the best vacuum for thick carpets that we've tested.
If you prioritize the cleaner means of debris disposal that come with a bagged vacuum, take a look at the Kenmore Intuition Bagged. Unlike the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright, it lacks a surface-type adjustment feature, so it can occasionally have trouble climbing over obstructions like electrical cords, but its use of a dirtbag reduces the chances of a plume of dust and dirt releasing when emptying the vacuum. That said, the disposable nature of its dirtbag and filters result in higher recurring costs than the Shark. Performance on high-pile carpet is great, as it easily cleans pet hair and sucks up a good amount of fine debris like baking soda, but it struggles more than the Shark when it comes to dealing with larger material like sand. Its 'Lift-Up' design is very similar to the Shark's 'Lift-Away' configuration, allowing you to pick up and carry its canister separately to clear messes on furniture, shelves, and counters. Unfortunately, its short vacuum hose can make it a little challenging to clean hard-to-reach areas.
Get the Shark if you want a vacuum that incurs virtually no recurring costs, but consider the Kenmore if you prioritize the advantages that come with a bagged vacuum.
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 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 lower than the Dyson. However, this can vary in the real world. Overall, it's one of the best vacuums for high-pile carpets that we've tested.
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 bagged canister vacuum delivers impressive performance on high-pile carpet, where it cleans pet hair and the majority of large debris like sand without too much difficulty. While you may need to make another pass to fully suck up fine material like baking soda on this surface type, its performance in this regard is still relatively good. It's also worth mentioning that suction performance doesn't drop by a noticeable amount even as its dirtbag fills up.
This vacuum has a seven-level suction power adjustment feature that enables you to adapt to different surface types on the fly. It feels amazingly well-built, with a dense plastic body and rubber-like wheels that allow it to roll smoothly over obstructions like electrical cords. The few parts that require periodic cleaning are fantastically easy to access, and its use of a dirtbag combined with its onboard HEPA filter should keep the spread of allergens to a minimum.
Unfortunately, its hose is short, making it somewhat hard to clean out-of-reach areas when using the vacuum in a semi-handheld configuration. It's also a little heavy, which can make it a bit of a hassle to carry up and down long flights of stairs. Otherwise, if you're looking for a highly versatile canister vacuum that can handle messes on a wide variety of surface types, this is a great choice.
The best robot vacuum for high-pile carpet that we've tested is the yeedi vac station. This robot vacuum has a self-emptying function that lets it dump any accumulated debris from its internal dustbin to an external dirt compartment built into its charging dock, slightly reducing hands-on maintenance requirements. It also features many other automation functions, including virtual boundary markers and scheduling cleaning sessions for individual areas.
This vacuum's performance on high-pile carpet is impressive, as it easily cleans pet hair as well as the majority of fine debris like baking soda, though it may need to make an extra pass to fully clean up larger material like sand. Its surface detection feature enables it to adjust its suction power mode automatically once it starts rolling on carpets. Depending on suction power mode and usage habits, it supplies anywhere between 80 minutes to roughly three hours of runtime on a single charge, which should be more than sufficient for most homes. It can climb over obstructions like electrical cords without getting stuck.
That said, its brushroll can occasionally get stuck on rug tassels, and the manufacturer recommends tucking them under carpets to prevent this from happening. It also lacks a HEPA filter to trap allergens as it cleans. Recurring costs are high, and many parts need periodic cleaning. Still, it's a good choice if you're looking for a robot vacuum that can easily handle messes on carpets.
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 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.
Oct 08, 2021: Replaced Neato D8 with yeedi vac station as 'Best Robot Vacuum For High-Pile Carpet' pick. Added Neato D8, Roborock H6 Adapt, and Wyze Cordless Vacuum to Notable Mentions. Removed Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine, Shark ION P50, and Neato Botvac D7 from Notable Mentions due to current availability.
Aug 10, 2021: Replaced Dyson Ball Animal 2 with Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright as 'Best Upright Vacuum For High-Pile Carpet' pick. Replaced Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright as 'Handheld Configuration Alternative' pick with Kenmore Intuition Bagged as 'Bagged Alternative' pick. Added Dyson Ball Animal 2 to Notable Mentions.
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.
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.