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The 5 Best Vacuums For Shag Carpet - Winter 2023 Reviews

Best Vacuums For Shag Carpet

Shag-pile carpeting is one of the hardest surfaces for a vacuum to clean, requiring a unique blend of power and finesse. No doubt, you'll need a vacuum powerful enough to draw debris out from deep within carpet fibers, but all-out suction power isn't the be-all-end-all. If the vacuum forms too tight a seal, carpet fibers can clog a vacuum's brushroll or even get torn out. Adjustable suction levels are a must, and features like head-height adjustment can make it a lot easier to maneuver the vacuum on uneven surfaces without getting bogged down.

We've tested over 130 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuum cleaners for shag carpets. We selected these picks based on their performance on carpet and their design, feature set, and price. If you're looking for more general product recommendations, check out our picks for the best vacuums. Alternatively, if you're looking for a vacuum but have lower-pile carpeting in your home, see our recommendations for the best vacuums for high-pile carpet and the best vacuums for carpet.

  1. Best Vacuum For Shag Carpet

    The best vacuum for shag carpet we've tested is the SEBO Airbelt D4. The Premium variant of this vacuum comes bundled with SEBO's ET-1 powerhead, which is one the most effective carpet-cleaning attachments on the market, with four levels of height adjustment and an automatic brushroll cutoff. If you want a slightly wider cleaning head, you can also spring for the ET-2 powerhead separately. In any case, you can quickly adjust the vacuum's suction power using the rocker switch on the handle, so you don't get bogged down on carpets. The vacuum is bulky but packed with convenience features, with a three-stage filtration system to help trap fine allergens, onboard storage for its three included attachments, and a long operating range of about fifty feet. It's also remarkably well-built, very easy to maintain, and incurs low ownership costs, as it uses high-capacity dirtbags and long-lasting filters.

    If you're looking for something lighter and a little easier to maneuver, the Miele Complete C3 is a good option; however, it incurs higher recurring costs as a result of its smaller dirtbags and less durable filters. Like the SEBO, you'll need to purchase a C3 variant with a powerhead for cleaning shag carpeting, like the C3 Kona, C3 Marin, or C3 Brilliant.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Vacuum For Shag Carpet

    The best vacuum for shag carpet we've tested in the upper mid-range price bracket is the Shark APEX Upright. This bagless upright vacuum isn't nearly as sturdily-built as the SEBO Airbelt D4 or as easy to maintain. Its floorhead is considerably less sophisticated than the SEBO's ET-1 powerhead, with no height adjustment or automatic motor cutoff, so it isn't quite as effective at deep-cleaning different carpet types. That said, unlike most other vacuums with fixed-height floorheads, its floorhead is positioned high enough off the ground for it not to get bogged down in thicker carpeting. It's also cheaper than the SEBO, especially in the latter's Premium trim.

    Unlike most conventional uprights, you can decouple its canister body from the floorhead, making it easier to clean hard-to-reach areas, like shelves, or behind and underneath couches and tables. It has a large dustbin, so you won't need to empty it often.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Vacuum For Shag Carpet

    Look at the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Turbo if you're shopping on a tighter budget. It feels a little less sturdy than the Shark APEX Upright Vacuum and has a smaller dustbin, but it delivers broadly similar performance on thick carpeting. While you can't adjust its brushroll height, its position is set high enough to not get bogged down on long carpet fibers. If you're having trouble moving it around, you can lower its suction power using a slider switch. There's also a brushroll off switch, so you can easily push the vacuum free if its floorhead gets tangled in carpet fibers.

    Unfortunately, while this vacuum's bagless design results in minimal recurring costs, quite a few parts need regular cleaning, and they aren't always easy to access; just removing the brushroll requires you to loosen ten screws. Its allergen-sealing performance isn't particularly impressive, either, with fine dust particles being able to escape from its dustbin.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Vacuum For Shag Carpet

    Consider the Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged if you want a budget-friendly vacuum to clean shag carpeting. Compared to the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Turbo, it lags in debris pickup performance on thick carpeting. Its use of disposable dirtbags also results in higher ownership costs upfront, though it does use fairly high-capacity bags that you won't need to swap out too often. The Hoover is very affordable and much easier to maintain than the BISSELL. It still offers a few features that are handy for cleaning shag carpeting that aren't always guaranteed for models in this price point, including a floorhead with five levels of surface adjustment and a brushroll cutoff switch, which allows it to pass over thick rugs without getting overly bogged down.

    Unfortunately, and despite its mainly plastic construction, this is still a bulky, heavy vacuum, which makes it a bit of a nuisance to store when not in use or to pick up and carry around. Its lack of a pivoting floorhead makes it challenging to maneuver in cluttered environments. If you're looking for a more portable upright, the Kenmore Intuition Bagged is a suitable alternative, though it doesn't offer any floorhead height adjustment.

    See our review

  5. Best Cordless Vacuum For Shag Carpet

    If you don't want to deal with the hassle of a power cord, check out the Miele Triflex HX1. Generally speaking, cordless vacuums are rarely the best option for cleaning shag carpeting, as they tend to have smaller, lower-output motors than corded models like the SEBO Airbelt D4 and fairly rudimentary powerheads that can get tangled in thick carpeting. However, this high-end cordless vacuum has a fairly sophisticated surface detection system that lets it change its suction power automatically depending on the surface you're cleaning or stop its brushroll if something gets tangled in the mechanism. While it also has enough power to clear away debris embedded in carpet fibers, it doesn't form too tight a seal with the surface it's on, meaning it won't get stuck on shag-pile rugs.

    Unfortunately, battery performance is unimpressive, as its battery life can vary roughly between 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the power setting and attachments you're using. It also has a small dustbin that'll need emptying often. If these are both deal-breakers for you, the Dyson V15 Detect is a solid option with better battery life and a larger dirt compartment, but its high-powered suction motor and low-lying floorhead can cause it to get bogged down on plush carpets.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Dyson Outsize: The Dyson Outsize is a cordless stick vacuum with similar suction performance and debris capacity to most corded models. However, its overly strong suction motor makes it a challenge to use on thick carpeting compared to the Miele Triflex HX1. See our review
  • BISSELL PowerForce Helix: The BISSELL PowerForce Helix is a budget-friendly bagless upright that offers five levels of height adjustment for its floorhead. However, even in its highest setting, it's more of a challenge to maneuver than the better-built, easier-to-maintain Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged. See our review
  • Miele Classic C1: The Miele Classic C1 is a mid-range canister vacuum that's easier to maneuver than the SEBO Airbelt D4. However, it also has a shorter range, incurs higher recurring costs, and feels less sturdy. You'll need to pay a premium for a C1 variant compatible with a powerhead attachment. See our review
  • Dyson Ball Animal 3: The Dyson Ball Animal 3 is an upper mid-range bagless upright that represents a good alternative to the Shark APEX Upright if you're willing to exchange maneuverability on thick carpeting for superior debris pickup performance. It exerts a significantly greater suction force than the Shark, but this can cause it to get stuck on really thick carpeting, even with its floorhead set to its highest level. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Mar 09, 2023: Verified that all main picks are still available and represent the best option for user needs.

  2. Jan 10, 2023: Ensured all main picks are still available and represent the best option for user needs.

All Reviews

Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best vacuums for shag carpet. We don't just base our results on overall performance, but also factors like availability, price, and reader feedback, so it isn't as though there's a single best vacuum to suit all needs.

If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our vacuum reviews listed alongside their performance on carpet as well their maneuverability score, which is an important aspect of determining how easy a given vacuum is to use on shag 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.