The 4 Best Vacuums For Thick Carpets

by Ileana Morales Valentine
Elite Daily/Amazon

It’s not any vacuum that can effectively clean a carpet or rug. And if you have thick or plush carpeting, it behooves you to invest in a tool with enough suction power to get in between the longer fibers. The best vacuums for thick carpets are powerful canister or upright designs that can be adjusted to different flooring heights. These vacuums must be able to handle carpets that are between 1/2 and 3/4 inches in length, which is considered high pile.

Vacuum Type

The two most robust types of vacuums for cleaning thick carpeting are upright and canister, thanks to their strong suction and large capacity. Canister vacuums tend to be a bit more flexible and easy to maneuver, but are more expensive and, with their separate hose and pole, there are more components to consider when storing them. Upright vacuums conveniently stand on their own as one neat unit and can easily be slid into a closet, though they can be noisier than canisters. Regardless of which vacuum you prefer, consider its weight, especially if you have a multi-level home and want to transport your vacuum easily from room to room.

Height Adjustments

A vacuum with several settings for adjusting its height will transition most easily between carpeting with different pile height, as well as hard flooring. Still, there are some vacuum cleaners without adjustable settings that are suitable for even high-pile carpeting. Just make sure to look for a model that is advertised as being able to handle high pile — with the user reviews to back it up. For your convenience, I've done that hunting for you — all of the picks below come vetted by shoppers who've raved about how well the vacuum handled thick carpets and shaggy rugs.

Other Features

Other features to consider include extra-long cords to work around larger spaces, a crevice tool for cleaning nooks, and other handy attachments for using on furniture or in vehicles. Anyone with allergies or sensitivity to dust will benefit from one with a HEPA filter, which filters at least 99.97% of tiny particles, including dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria. And keep in mind that bagged vacuums do a better job of sealing dirt and dust for clean disposal, but bagless vacuums have the advantage of not having to replace bags.

Now, here are the four best vacuums for thicker carpets and high-pile rugs so they're cleaner and look better, too.

The Best Canister Vacuum For Thick Carpets
  • Type: bagged canister
  • Weight: 22 pounds

The overall best vacuum for thick carpets has four settings for pile height adjustment, cleaning both carpeting and hard floors (without scratching) and transitioning smoothly between surfaces with its variable power mode. According to the manufacturer, this vacuum is designed for denser, longer pile carpets. This bagged canister vacuum uses a HEPA filter system, and it's consistently a highly rated favorite with over 5,000 reviews.

For pet hair, this vacuum works especially well with its motorized Pet PowerMate attachment that sucks stubborn pet hair out of carpeting and hard-to-reach areas. Plus, it's designed so hair won't get tangled and stuck around the brush. This two-motor pick is powerful enough for deep cleaning with four motor speeds. Maneuvering with this canister vacuum is comfortable thanks to its 10-foot hose and retractable 26-foot cord, and the extendable but lightweight wand reaches up to 10 feet.

Accessories include a nozzle for cleaning ultra-plush rugs and a crevice tool; the vacuum's detachable handle makes it easy to clean furniture, inside a car, or staircases. When not in use, all four attachments fit onto the vacuum for neat storage.

A helpful review: “I LOVE this vacuum! For the price, it does the best job picking up dirt and pet hair. I have a rabbit and a very fluffy dog, which translates into a lot of fur around the house. This vacuum does a great job picking up all that pet hair. There's a reason it's always a recommended vacuum by Consumer Reports. [...] I strongly believe that this is the best vacuum for carpets and hard floors within this price range. I read on Consumer Reports that it even outperforms the 'high-end vacuums,' which is no surprise.”

The Best Upright Vacuum For Thick Carpets
  • Type: bagged upright
  • Weight: 10.5 pounds

This powerful vacuum cleaner has a soft bristle brush that is super gentle on shag rugs and plush carpet. Though its brush height is not adjustable, it is designed to use on carpets with a pile height up to an inch. This pick gets a gold seal of approval from the Carpet and Rug Institute for its performance on soft carpeting.

The vacuum uses a HEPA filter and a sonic bar that creates vibrations to help loosen dirt embedded in carpet. With its lightweight build, vent system, and large front wheels, this vacuum is easy to move across even thick carpets; it cleans hard flooring as well. The 35-foot cord is the longest on this list, and the vacuum automatically shuts down if it senses a jam in the brush. With a quiet mode and a deep clean mode, you'll also find it convenient that this vacuum can lay flat to more easily reach flooring under furniture. This pick doesn't come with accessories.

A helpful review: “I have a very thick Safavieh shag rug and my current vacuum just wasn’t getting the job done. I looked into purchasing a Dyson but decided to try this one since it was recommended for plush carpets. After we received it we used it right away. The first use, I was surprised to see a noticeable difference. It picked up more than my older vacuum and fluffed the carpet back up. It is also easier to push than my old vacuum and works as advertised. If you have expensive shag rug, skip the Dyson. This is the perfect vacuum for plush rugs and carpets!”

The Best Upright Vacuum On A Budget
  • Type: bagless upright
  • Weight: 10 pounds

The combined power and price point of this Eureka vacuum cleaner make it a cleaning cult favorite with over 22,000 reviews. This bagless upright vacuum has five adjustable settings for height, allowing it to work well with high-pile carpet, shag rugs, and hard floors without scratching.

The handle releases to stretch the hose for cleaning up to 7 feet above, and the vacuum comes with a 25-foot cord, crevice tool, dusting brush, and upholstery tool. All accessories store on the vacuum. There's no HEPA filter on this one, but it instead uses a washable foam filter. Remember, with this one there are no filters or bags to replace, so that's another affordability factor to consider.

A helpful review: “This is THE most amazing little vacuum I’ve ever seen. [...] When this arrived it was a breeze to assemble. Used it right away. Was BLOWN AWAY at the amount of dirt, hair, and dust this vacuum cleaned up after the house BEING VACANT and closed for almost three months! So much bang for the buck! Easy to empty and clean after each use! Love this vacuum!”

The Best Vacuum To Splurge On
  • Type: bagged canister
  • Weight: 20 pounds

This Miele vacuum is a tried-and-true investment from a brand that designs vacuums to last for years and is backed by a Good Housekeeping Seal Star (2019) and and a top pick on Consumer Reports This bagged canister vacuum uses a brush designed to deeply but gently clean soft carpeting with convenient LED lighting, and reviewers commented it's impressively powerful yet quiet. Its five-level height adjustments are well-suited to medium to high-pile carpet and soft carpet, and several reviewers also noted it "just glides along the carpet."

With six suction power settings easily adjusted with a footswitch, this vacuum also comes with a parquet attachment for gently cleaning hard floors. The filter system uses a HEPA filter with Miele's sealed design and, according to the manufacturer, leaves the room air cleaner than before. Other accessories include a dusting brush, upholstery tool, and crevice tool. The cord extends 23 feet and is retractable.

A helpful review: "This machine is designed so well nothing compares. With adjustable suction power you can set it yourself or run it on automatic so you don't ruin delicate carpets. [...] This vacuum is so quiet its a pleasure to use. [...] The 3 free wheeling canister wheels make this vacuum easy to pull no matter what surface it's on. The height adjustable power brush head is designed to be gentle but strong enough to pull up the nap of the rug so the vacuum suction pulls deep rooted dirt up and out. I was amazed how new my rugs and carpeting looked after using this vacuum cleaner [...]"