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.
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.
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 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.