Best Vacuum For Thick, High Pile Carpet – Testing & Reviewing Shag Carpet Cleaners

Best Vacuum For Shag Carpet

(Last Updated: December, 2019)

Reviews of The Top 10 Vacuums For High Pile Carpet

We get it. Cleaning thick shag carpet isn't easy. Not all vacuums are up to the challenge.

According to our tests, the best vacuum for high pile carpet is the Soniclean Soft Carpet Vacuum. It is powerful, but the large front wheels make it effortless to push through even thick pile carpet. It doesn't get tangled and is effective on a single pass through high pile carpet. If you can manage to find this vacuum for under $400, its a total steal and worth picking up.

We didn't just test one vacuum though, to make this post, we tested 10 vacuums for their usability on thick pile carpeting, here are are results.

Each of the vacuums listed below have been tested on high pile carpets and were able to clean effectively. To learn more about them, click on the vacuum name to jump to the full review section of the buyer's guide.

Here are the top 10 best vacuums that will effectively clean high pile carpet.

Shag can be hard to work with, but fortunately we found a handful of vacuums that can do the job. These vacuums are able to hand pile that is at or over 1/2 inch long. The best vacuums that are designed for these materials can handle longer carpet fibers without issue. 

In fact, our tests yielded a clear winner. 

The best vacuum for shag carpet is by far the Soniclean soft carpet upright vacuum cleaner, but there are more that put up a good fight. keep reading to find out more!


Soniclean Soft Carpet Upright Vacuum Cleaner

This bagged upright vacuum cleaner is designed to glide smoothly through plush carpeting, while also providing a deep and thorough cleaning with its incredibly powerful suction. This model has a patented sonic cleaning system, that produces over two hundred vibrations per second to get dirt and dust from the deepest reaches of the carpet or rug.

Along with its Sonic cleaning system, this model by Soniclean also has a patented adjustable vent system, which allows the user to adjust the vents for every type of carpet.

While this bagged upright vacuum cleaner works great for high pile rugs and carpets, it also does a great job on tile and wood floors as well. However, if you have sensitive hardwood, you may want to be cautious. Since it is designed for high pile carpeting, it may scratch wood floors.

It's large wheels and excellent suction make it a no brainer for high pile carpets. This vacuum wins our editor's choice award because no other vacuum cleaner can even come close to its performance on plush carpets. Other vacuums with small wheels tend to get stuck in shaggy carpet fibers, this high pile carpet vacuum doesn't have that issue.

Important Features:

  • Adjustable vents
  • Soft nylon brush roll bristles
  • Large wheels - This allows the vacuum to "float" on soft carpeting
  • 200 sonic vibrations per second effectively loosens ground-in dirt

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Key Stats:

  • Weight: 10.5 lbs
  • Type: Upright

Pros:

  • Large front wheels to make movement through thicker, longer carpet effortless.
  • Soft nylon roller bristles to thoroughly clean carpet fibers with no damage.
  • Weighs only 10.5 pounds, making it easy to move and use.
  • Can also clean hard flooring

Cons:

  • Bags are sold separately from vacuum and can be pricey.

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Dyson Ball Multi Floor Upright Vacuum

Dyson models are a fan favorite, and this model garnered recognition for its ability to clean high pile carpets easily. Many reviewers have raved about the high powered suction and how clean it keeps their houses compared to other models of vacuums they had purchased in the past.

This model is designed to be able to handle the plushest of carpets and to be able to get all the small spots a regular vacuum wouldn’t be able to maneuver around. Another feature of the Dyson Ball Animal is it’s easy to empty compartment, which releases at the press of a button.

This vacuum is also ideal for those who want to have high pile carpets in their homes but suffer from allergies. We were amazed at how well this model cleaned, and it is certified allergy and asthma friendly.

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Important Features:

  • Self-adjusting cleaner head
  • Wand/hose release in one action to clean high areas and under furniture
  • HEPA filter
  • Single button dirt bin release

Key Stats:

  • Weight: 15.6 lbs
  • Type: Upright

Pros:

  • Has a self-adjusting head to provide a thorough cleaning of all carpet types including high pile.
  • Is equipped with Dyson’s ‘Ball Technology’ for easy maneuvering and handling during use.
  • Certified asthma and allergy friendly.
  • Lightweight design, the whole vacuum weighs in at around 17 pounds.
  • Good for multiple floor types
  • 5-year warranty

Cons:

  • Stronger sucking power may make it hard to push
  • Expensive
  • Left some pet hair behind

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HooverT-Series WindTunnel Pet Rewind

This is one of the most popular Hoover vacuum models available. It has stood the test of time, and you can find thousands of raving reviews for it online.

This ‘Hoover’ model is also a multipurpose vacuum, able to work on all carpet types and helps eliminate unwanted hair from wooden floors to thick plush rugs and carpeting and furniture with ease.

The Hoover T Series WindTunnel Pet Rewind model is great for smaller apartments as well as larger homes, with a foldable handle to provide secure storage. The retractable cord makes it easy to start cleaning and put the vacuum away after use.

This model is very powerful and cleans up hair from even the toughest high pile carpets and can move through plush carpets with ease. It also comes in three different colors to better suit your style. 

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Important Features:

  • Under 19 lbs
  • Folding handle for easy storage
  • Automatically rewindable cord
  • Includes air powered pet hand tool

Key Stats:

  • Weight: 18.7 lbs
  • Type: Upright

Pros:

  • Weighs under nineteen pounds, making it easy to carry and use.
  • Has 5 carpet height adjustment options.
  • Can be used on a variety of floors and carpeting.
  • Comes with a twenty-five-foot cord that automatically rewinds at the push of a button.
  • Lower price than many other models.
  • Works great on hair.

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to empty the debris canister.
  • Louder than other Hoover models
  • Loses power after a few years.

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Oreck Swivel Axis Upright Vacuum Cleaner

The Oreck Swivel Axis Upright Vacuum is one of the most maneuverable and straight to the point vacuums on this list. The vacuum is nothing fancy. It doesn't come with a slew of attachments, it doesn't try to be hi-tech, but it will get the job done. 

This model from Oreck is stated to be the Best choice for plush, high-pile carpets and delicate surfaces from various 3rd party reviews, and many reviews mention how easy it is to handle and how well it works on high pile carpet even with its small size. This model does require the use of bags, which have to be bought separately, along with any attachments. Along with its many raving reviews on its quality and durability, the Oreck Swivel Axis Upright Vacuum has garnered an incredibly positive reputation in the industry and with consumers. 

Important Features:

  • HEPA filter
  • Safe for plush carpeting and hard floors
  • Comes with 3 bags
  • Multiple speeds
  • Wide cleaning head
  • Headlights

Key Stats:

  • Weight: 11 lbs
  • Type: Upright

Pros:

  • Swivel steering makes it incredibly easy to maneuver
  • Has dual speed technology to adjust brushroll speed for varying carpet pile
  • HEPA filtration is standar

Cons:

  • Belts may need to be replaced after about a year
  • Does not include any attachments, those have to be bought separately.
  • Can get clogged with hair

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Maytag M1200 Upright Vacuum Cleaner review

While this model from Maytag may not be as colorful or fancy as some of the other vacuums mentioned previously, the Maytag M1200 forgoes all the bells and whistles to provide a basic vacuum that outperforms flashier models.

The Maytag M1200 is able to deeply clean a variety of carpeting, from high pile versions to wood floors. Even though it weighs twenty one pounds, its shocking how easy it is to move across thick carpets. Even with its swift movement, it cleans deep to pick up the most dirt and hair.

Important Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Dual intake system for multi-floor cleaning
  • LED headlights
  • 35-foot cord
  • 6 carpet height positions

Key Stats:

  • Weight: 18 lbs
  • Type: Upright

Pros:

  • Uses two motors to better clean carpets and wooden floors.
  • Thirty five foot cord for less hassle when it comes to cleaning large spaces.
  • Has six adjustable carpet height positions.
  • Includes HEPA and charcoal based filtration to get rid of allergens and unpleasant odors.

Cons:

  • A bit heavier, weighing in at twenty one pounds.
  • Difficult to get replacement parts if something breaks.
  • Not good for older users, as it can be heavy and hard to maneuver.

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Miele Pure Suction Canister Vacuum

This lightweight, but incredibly powerful vacuum is great for home with high pile carpet, as well as other flooring types. Unlike other models that are great only for carpet, the Miele Complete Canister Vacuum performed well across a variety of flooring types. It is a canister vacuum, which means the head itself is lightweight and easy to maneuver, but the canister itself can be a bit bulky. 

This vacuum has variable speeds and head highs, making it great for all types of flooring, from high pile carpet to bare floors. While this carpet performed strongly most of the time, it did struggle with pile over 1 inch tall. The vacuum will not get tangled, but you may notice it is harder to push on extremely high carpets.

Important Features:

  • AirClean sealed System
  • 29.5 ft cleaning radius
  • Combination floor head
  • Super-powerful vortex motor
  • Variable power control

Key Stats:

  • Weight: 14.8 lbs
  • Type: Upright

Pros:

  • Wheels swivel 360 degrees
  • Extremely strong suction
  • 6 Stage variable speed motor

Cons:

  • Although head height and power adjustable it did get caught on extremely high pile rugs like 70s style shag.

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Kenmore Elite 81714 Pet Friendly Ultra Plush Bagged Canister Vacuum

If there were ever a vacuum that was designed for high pile carpets and nothing else, it would be the Kenmore 81714. With this model, Kenmore really hunkered down on the vacuums ability to handle thick carpeting The suction is strong, but still very easy to maneuver and pull on even carpet pile over 1.5 in tall. The canister design was great for the most part, although the hose is less flexible than other canister vacuums we have tested. This makes it hard to maneuver around corners.

This vacuum comes with a HEPA filtration system, which makes it great if you're prone to allergens. It will suck up a variety of debris without issue ranging from fine dust all the way up to larger particles like cereal.

Important Features:

  • HEPA Filter
  • Comes with pet hair upholstery attachment
  • Designed specifically for high pile carpet, making it much easier to push and pull
  • Quiet operation

Key Stats:

  • Weight: 29.6 lbs
  • Type: Upright

Pros:

  • HEPA filtration system
  • 30% easier to use on high pile carpet compared to traditional upright vacuum
  • Includes a motorized upholstery brush
  • 2- Motor system for power and reliability

Cons:

  • Uses bags and those will need to be purchased continually
  • The hose isn't very flexible making it hard to maneuver

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Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Vacuum (NV370)

The Shark Navigator Lift Away is one of the best vacuums for soft carpet because it is sturdy, versatile, and reasonably priced. It has a dual feature that allows it to switch from high pile plush carpets to smooth bare hardwood floors with ease and it doesn't skimp on performance in either setting.

The canister is easy to empty and reattach, and its larger size makes it great for those who prefer to wait a bit between emptying the dirt and dust. Its design also makes it perfect for maneuvering around tight corners, hard to reach places, and under furniture.

Important Features:

  • 2 in 1 vacuum; upright and liftaway
  • HEPA filter
  • Swivel steering
  • Extra-large canister capacity
  • Good on high pile carpet and hard wood

Key Stats:

  • Weight: 13.7 lbs
  • Type: Upright

Pros:

  • Easy lift away dirt canister, makes for simple cleaning and disposal.
  • Works on plush carpet and bare floors with ease.
  • Extra large holding capacity for more cleaning, less stopping.
  • Swivel controls work great for rooms with a lot of furniture.

Cons:

  • Bulky design can be challenging for some users to maneuver under furniture.
  • In some cases, the cleaning power has decreased with excessive use.
  • On the heavier side.

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Oreck Commercial U2000R-1

The Oreck Commercial U2000R-1 is one of the best heavy duty vacuum cleaners you can buy that works on a variety of flooring, including high pile carpets. It has excellent suction that takes dirt and dust out of the toughest of carpets and is also a tough opponent for hair throughout the home. With a forty foot power cord, this vacuum also lets you vacuum multiple rooms without the hassle of finding a new outlet every few feet.

This model can run through different floors and carpets quickly without getting stuck even with its powerful deep cleaning ability. It makes for a smooth cleaning experience.

Important Features:

  • Helping hand handle is great for those with arthritis
  • 12" cleaning path
  • Automatic floor adjustments
  • Powerful high speed brush rolls

Key Stats:

  • Weight: 8 lbs
  • Type: Upright

Pros:

  • Perfect for senior citizens, the handle is designed to help those with arthritis and other ailments use the vacuum with ease.
  • Has automatic floor adjustment capabilities.
  • The vacuum has a twelve-inch cleaning area, helps to clean large rooms faster.
  • Super powerful machine works great for deep heavy duty cleaning high plush carpeting.

Cons:

  • Bulky size, hard to clean stairs and under furniture.

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BISSELL Cleanview Swivel Rewind Pet Upright

When it comes to getting your moneys worth with a vacuum for high pile carpets, the Bissell Cleanview takes the cake. One of the least expensive vacuums on this list, the Bissell Cleanview Swivel Rewind can hold its own against products twice the price. Where it excels is home with pets and thick carpets. It is able to penetrate deep into your carpet to draw up hair that other vacuums will miss. 

This vacuum is great for hard floors as well as high pile carpet, though it is best suited on medium-pile carpets. That is what it is originally designed for. It is alright at everything, but best at nothing. It is a great all around vacuum if you need help with high pile rugs and carpets, but may also have other types of flooring in your home

Important Features:

  • Retractable cord
  • TurboBrush tool for stairs and upholstery
  • Lightweight and maneuverable
  • Doesn't tangle easily

Key Stats:

  • Weight: 19.45 lbs
  • Type: Upright

Pros:

  • Great at hard to reach debris like hair
  • Won't tangle
  • Works just as well on hard surfaces as it does on high pile carpet.
  • Edge to edge cleaning gets closer to walls and easily cleans tight corners

Cons:

  • Attachments don't yield as high of a suction power as the floor mode does
  • No HEPA filter

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What You Should Know Before Buying A Vacuum For High Pile Carpets

When it comes to choosing the best vacuum for shag carpet for your home, not all makes and models are created equally. The majority of vacuums are designed with low pile and low maintenance flooring in mind. In fact, just about every vacuum is first designed for low pile carpet  as a standard, and you have to actually search for one that is good for high pile flooring.

Using the wrong vacuum for a high pile carpet can cause damage to both the vacuum and the carpeting itself. Choosing the best high pile carpet vacuum can help extend the life of your carpet. Not only will you struggle with your carpeting getting stuck in the vacuum, you also won't get your floors as clean if you choose the wrong vacuum cleaner.

High pile / shag carpets have deeper pockets near the bottom that can grab onto dust, dirt, and allergens, and a traditional upright vacuum doesn't have the suction power to clean that deep.

Heres the bottom line.

These ten vacuum models listed have been tested and proven to be the best of the best for keeping the long, shaggy, high piled carpets and rugs the cleanest.

How To Choose an Effective Vacuum For Thick Carpet

Depending on your situation, you may have to take different approaches for choosing the best vacuum. Go ahead and ask yourself the following questions to help determine the best vacuum for your home.

Before you start looking at all of the models of vacuums that are available, you need to take all of the following into consideration to ensure you get the best vacuum for your thick rugs or carpet.

Shag Carpet

1. What style of vacuum do you want?

There are many types of vacuums ranging from self-powered Robot vacuums to bagless uprights and canister vacuums. This is the first and most important step when choosing a vacuum. You should consider what style of vacuum is good for your current situation, and what will also stand the test of time. If you have a home with thick carpets as well as tile and wood, you want to make sure the style of vacuum you get can clean all surfaces effectively. 

2. How much are you willing to spend?

Generally speaking, you can get a quality vacuum cleaner for around $200 - $250, although prices can range anywhere from $50 - $1000. If your budget is smaller than that, you may have a machine that requires more maintenance and may not last as long. However, if your budget is higher, you open yourself up more features and accessories. When it comes to your budget, you shouldn't just think about price though. You should also consider value. If a more expensive vacuum is going to last you longer, and will require less in maintenance costs, it may be a bigger value in the long run. Make sure to read multiple reviews on each vacuum you're consider so you can get a good idea of whether or not it is a good value for the money. 

3. How much of your carpeting is high pile

This is important because if your entire home is high pile carpeting, you may want something different than if you are simply trying to clean a single rug. Going back to what we mentioned when looking at the style of vacuum you want, you should strongly consider how much of your carpet is actually high pile. If you only have certain areas with high pile rugs, you may not need the same type of vacuum you would need if your entire house has high pile carpet.

4. Do you care about accessories? 

Many vacuum cleaners come with their fair share of accessories. If you have pets and need to clean your upholstery, it may be a good idea to go with a vacuum cleaner bundle that comes with upholstery accessories. Some models have motorized brushes specifically designed to clean up pet hair on upholstery. If you don't need the accessories, then you don't want to pay extra for them. Some vacuum models have bundles with and without accessories.

What You Need To Know Before Buying High Pile Carpet or Rug

Maybe you haven't yet purchased that high pile carpet or rug. Before you make that leap, here are a few things you should consider about having high pile carpeting in your home. 

Why do you want high pile carpets?

You should always ask yourself "why" before making a big purchase. Is it something you desire aesthetically? Will it make your life easier? Does the purchase have any additional benefits?

For the most part, high pile carpets are harder to maintain. This makes them a questionable purchase in the first place. However, there is still a lot of good that can come from high pile carpets. 

First, they offer more insulation. If you live in a colder area, you could see a noticeable benefit from opting for a higher pile carpet. It will keep the room warmer, and will be much more pleasant to walk on.

Second, they look great! Some may argue that good design is in the eyes of the beholder, but if you ask me, high pile rugs looks great. 

Where Do You Plan On Putting Your Rug?

If you're only buying a rug, and not installing high pile carpeting in your entire home you need to ask yourself where you're going to be placing the rug. Will it be in your bedroom? Or will it be in a more highly trafficked area. This will determine how often you're going to have to clean and vacuum the rug.

Does Anyone In Your Family Have Asthma?

If the answer to this is yes, we are just going to go out on a limb and tell you that high pile carpets are not right for your home. More dirt and allergens can get stuck in high pile carpeting than do in lower pile carpets. 

Even if you use an effective plush carpet vacuum cleaner, you're going to leave more debris behind than you would if you had lower carpets. 

Do You Want Easy To Clean Rugs?

If you do, high pile carpeting isn't for you. Just because of how it is designed, high-pile rugs are more difficult to keep clean. It takes a special vacuum cleaner to be able to suck up all of the debris that is hidden in your carpets, but at the same time not get stuck on the high pile. 

All in all, high pile carpets can look great, can provide excellent insulation, but they are harder to keep clean and require special attention. For the most part, the shouldn't be placed in high traffic areas because of this. You're going to need a special high pile carpet vacuum cleaner in order to keep up with the dirt and keep your carpet looking new. 


Well, that's it! ​

Cleaning high pile carpet can be a challenge. To do the carpet cleaning job right, you need the right tools. We hope this buyer's guide has helped shed some light on the situation.

Now it's your turn.

What features do you look for when considering a vacuum for high pile carpet? Let us know in the comments section below!

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