best vacuum cleaners for thick carpets

The 5 Best Vacuum Cleaners for Thick Carpets

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Getting pet hair, dry food bits, dander, and other debris out of thick, luxurious carpets and premium persian rugs can be challenging. Many supposedly good vacuums for cleaning plush carpets don’t do a good job. In this guide, I present 5 vacuum cleaners that clean dirty fluffy floorings admirably well and safely.

Want to know which plush pile vacuum came out on top? It’s the Miele Complete C3 Marin. It’s always a Miele, right?

Here’s why the Marin won: 

  • A-1200W motor
  • A deep-diving on/off motorized brush with LED headlight
  • Automatic suction control
  • 5 height control options
  • A slew of premium quality attachments

Well, the price point is steep. But you likely won’t need another bare floor/deep-pile vacuum for the next 20 years.

Picking the Best High-pile Vacuums for the Job

I burrowed through heaps of material and anecdotal evidence for hours searching for the best product for the job.

After 10 hours of reading relevant material and watching product review videos, I narrowed down to a bunch of 5 vacuums that work for carpets and rugs with high pile height.

Many people like the vacuums I picked, and I believe you’ll like them too.

Each vacuum I reviewed represents proven cleaning capabilities and lasts. Don’t worry; I also highlighted everything that could be improved about each vacuum.

5 Best Vacuum Cleaners for Thick Carpets and Plush Rugs

Here are the winners:

1. Miele Complete C3 Marin (Best Overall)

Miele complete C3 Marin

Miele Complete C3 Marin is not only the best Miele vacuum for thick carpets, but also our choice for the best vacuum for thick and high pile carpets.

This clunkish German-made vacuum is a high-suction corded canister that offers high-quality HEPA filtration. Miele’s Airclean filter captures 99.97% of particles.

And the 4.5 liter self-sealing dustbag ensures that the majority of captured pet allergens don’t escape. The bag is easy to install and detach for emptying. There’s a filter replacement indicator, too.

The Miele C3 Marin owes its exceptional plush carpet cleaning capability to its 13 ⅜” wide SEB 236 Electro Premium Powerbrush. This motorized powerhead swivels, greatly boosting maneuverability.

If you accidentally vacuum objects, the SEB 236 Electro Premium Powerbrush automatically turns off. Pressing a reset button gets the vac working again. 

A button on the handle fires up the powerbrush. This electrobrush features a LED headlamp that lights up the path in poorly lit areas.

Its flexible hose features a button that turns the beater brush on or off. Turn it on when vacuuming non-delicate thick rugs and off when handling delicate pile carpeting or tassels.

The unit also comes with a top-of-the-line hard-floor brush (the SBB-300-3 Parquet Twister) that rotates 180°.  And the dusting brush, crevice nozzle, and upholstery tool stay on the canister so you won’t lose them.

Marin offers 5 height adjustments so you can clean plush pile carpets with ease. You can turn the electronic cleaning mode on or use the foot pedal to adjust the height.

With the electronic mode on, the unit automatically changes the height as you transition from plush carpeting to hard flooring. And when the unit enters carpeted territory, it instantly lowers suction.

Pros

  • Beater brush on/off feature
  • Electronic controls 
  • Lots of reach
  • LED “headlight”
  • Quiet operation
  • Small attachments stored onboard

Cons

  • A steep price point
  • Somewhat clunky

2. Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog HEPA Canister Vacuum Cleaner (with SEB228 Powerhead) (Best High-pile Vacuum Cleaner for Pet Owners)

miele cat and dog hepa vacuum

The Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog HEPA Canister Vacuum Cleaner is similar to the Marin C3 appearance-wise and design-wise, Like the Marin C3, it offers multiple suction settings and great air filtration performance.

So, what’s in this deal? Here’s what you get with the C3 Cat and Dog Canister Vac:

  • An electric power brush (the SEB 228); this is the main attachment
  • Miele’s 90-degree SBB 300-3 Twister for bare floors
  • Dusting brush for ceilings
  • A crevice attachment for hard-to-reach spots
  • An upholstery tool
  • A reasonably long power cord and hose

It’s a bagged model for sure, and the deal includes 16 easy-to-toss bags that cover your needs for months. If you have breathing issues or want superior air filtration, grab this deal. With this vacuum’s supercharged toolset, every home gets a floor-to-ceiling clean in half the time.

Even though it’s somewhat bulky, it’s highly maneuverable. The hose is considerably long; it lets you clean up to 10 carpeted steps. And the power cord amounts to a long enough cleaning radius from a central point. 

There’s more. This thing offers height adjustability so you can transition between surfaces like the wind. And with 6 suction settings, you get to choose a suction limit that works best for your surface.

A button enables you to turn this cleaner’s SB228 electric powerbrush on or off. This makes this deep-pile carpet vacuum a good option for dealing with delicates including hand-knotted wool rugs.

What’s the difference between the Miele C3 Cat and Dog HEPA Canister Vac and C3 Marin? Both units boast Miele’s 1200-watt Vortex Motor. So, neither surpasses the other in terms of cleaning ability.

But the Marin C3 is a little more expensive and supports automatic suction control versus Cat and Dog’s manual suction adjustment. Also, the Cat and Dog model lacks Marin C3’s LED light.

What’s more, the Cat and Dog comes with a pre-installed activated charcoal filter that packs a hefty pet odor elimination punch. But there’s also a HEPA filter for capturing dander and other pet allergens.

This HEPA filter fits in the charcoal filter compartment. But what does this filter compatibility mean? It means two things:

  • You can install the HEPA filter to tackle particulates such as dust, pet dander, mold spores, and pollen.
  • You can chuck the HEPA filter out anytime and put in the activated carbon filter to handle odorous contaminants such as VOCs.

But no vacuum ever cleans out air pollutants the same way air purifiers do.

Most importantly, the Marin Cat and Dog HEPA Canister model comes with a special tool called the SBT 101 Mini Turbobrush. This extra tool equips this vacuum for cleaning up pet hair on cut-pile carpets and upholstery.

And when you need to clean bare floors of any kind, you can always turn to the unit’s 90-degree SBB 300-3 Twister for bare floors.

But that’s not all. This vacuum does the job pretty quietly even when cleaning carpets or floors on the mid-range suction settings. I doubt you’ll ever need to select the highest suction setting.

What’s not to like about the Cat and Dog Miele model? Little, if anything at all. First off, it’s pricey. But that’s because it’s a damn good vacuum for plush carpets and floors.

Also, you have to manually adjust the suction settings. Plus it’s a little heavy, but not definitely not buick-heavy.

Cons

  • Height adjustable
  • Marginally cheaper than the Marin C3
  • Well-built and durable
  • Activated carbon filter + HEPA filter (both fit in the same compartment)
  • Pet hair removal tool included
  • Bare-floor brush included
  • Relatively quiet

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Manual suction control
  • Bulkier than most
  • Replacement bags cost money

If you like saving money (even if it’s just a few bucks), have pets, and don’t mind manual suction power management, pick the C3 Cat&Dog. I wager you won’t regret your decision. And if this Miele vac won’t last you 20 years (given proper care and maintenance), nothing ever will. 

3.Best Budget Bagged Upright Vacuum for Thick Carpets: Kenmore BU4050 Intuition Upright

kenmore intution upright

Not ready for a high-end Miele upright? Consider the Kenmore BU4050. This 14lbs vacuum is similar to the Shark Navigator. But the Shark navigator is bagless and releases a plume of dust when emptying.

The Intuition BU4050 provides HEPA-grade filtration and comes with 6 replacement bags. Its thick, self-sealing 3.1-liter dust bag holds in dirt securely without causing suction drops.

A “bag-full indicator” reminds you to throw away the full bag. And the filtration system supports no-touch emptying, an extra that people with dust sensitivity value.

A simple button allows the top 8-lb part to lift off, converting this lift-up design into a stick vacuum, a canister, an upright, and a handheld option for unparalleled versatility.

Its ergonomic carry handle makes tidying up messy stairs, dirty ceiling fans, and dusty windowsills a breeze.

Another design advantage the BU4050 has over its predecessors (BU4018, 4020, and BU4022) is that much less hair sticks in its brushroll. 

This Hair Eliminator Nozzle easily handles medium pile and even thicker carpets. Plus, you can switch off the brush to clean delicate rugs or bare floors.

Other attachments include a crevice tool, a dust brush, an upholstery tool, and the Pet Handimate tool for picking up pet hair. The onboard storage isn’t spacious enough for all tools though.

The 30-feet cord length, 6-feet wand, and standard length hose add up to a sufficient cleaning radius.

Some reviewers said pushing the Kenmore BU4050 on thick carpets was hard. But opening the suction release valve halfway solved the problem in most cases. 

Pros

  • Affordable bagged upright with decent suction
  • No-touch debris bag disposal
  • On/off brushroll control
  • Lift-up design for above-floor cleans
  • Lighter than most full-size vacuums

Cons

  • Less hair tangles
  • Can be hard to push on thick carpets
  • It could have more onboard storage

4. Best Battery-powered Vacuum for Thick Pile Carpets: Wyze Handheld Vacuum

WYze handheld vacuum

The ultra-lightweight (about 5lbs) handheld Wyze features smooth-rolling rubber wheels and a headlight.

It seems a tad flimsy, but the construction quality isn’t too bad for a handheld stick-type vacuum in that price range.

It picks up pet hair on furniture, light debris, and even fine debris well. But heavier debris tends to clog it, decreasing suction power.

The soft-bristle brushroll/upholstery tool combo is removable, which makes it easy to clear it. And the unit’s LED touch screen communicates brushroll trouble. Unfortunately, you can’t switch off the brushroll, so it’s not good for vacuuming rugs with tassels.

A crevice nozzle for detailing your car’s interiors is also included. I suggest buying Wyze’s separately sold motor-driven turbo power brush for more powerful cleaning.

The vacuum’s detachable aluminum wand isn’t collapsible. But a mountable rack station makes storage easy.

Its 2000mAh removable battery pack provides about 30-60 minutes of cleaning time on the Eco Mode. But performance drops to just 10 minutes on the Turbo setting. It charges in 4-5 hours.

An LED screen displays the remaining charge. This touch screen also indicates the suction setting you’ve selected.

The washable HEPA filter inside the low-capacity dirt compartment requires regular rinsing. The Cyclone filter (a kind of prefilter), also demands consistent care. This filter also lives inside the dirt bin.

Pros

  • Requires little storage space
  • Most affordable pick
  • Ultra-lightweight design
  • Features an LED headlight
  • Battery life display
  • Washable filters

Cons

  • Not ideal for tassels
  • High-maintenance vacuum
  • No powerbrush
  • Not for large cleans

5. Best Robot Vacuum for Thick Carpets: iRobot Roomba S7+ 7550

iRobot Roomba S7+ 7550

Unlike most robo-vacs, the S7+ and ALL iRobot Roombas have two multi-surface, self-cleaning rubber brushes. That makes it a good choice for auto-cleaning long pile carpeting.

Carpet deep cleaning tests show that the S+ has 10 times stronger suction versus iRobot’s standard model, the S675.  

Like the S9+, S3+, and more advanced iRobot options, the S7+ comes with a self-emptying mechanism. You have up to 2 months before needing to empty the dust bag in the base. 

The S+ connects to Wi-Fi and supports remote control. And unlike cheaper iRobots with seemingly haphazard patterns, the S7+ offers neat row-by-row navigation.

Its dirt detection sensor makes it spend more time on dirtier spots. And its camera-based smart  navigation enables corner-to-corner mapping of your home.

Once it creates a complete map of your house (this may take up to a week), you can input highly customized commands. For example, you can request S7+ via Amazon Alexa or iRobot app to clean a particular area now or later.

You can also mark stay-out-of-these-zones boundaries through your smartphone to keep the S7+ from bumping into objects and getting ugly dents.

If the S7+ depletes its charge mid-cycle, it glides back to the charging dock. It resumes vacuuming once fully charged, picking up from where it paused.

Pros

  • Never forgets to clean
  • Never gets bored
  • Self-charging + self-emptying features
  • Compact and cordless
  • Cleans in neat rows while focussing on dirtier areas
  • Good for pile carpeting + floors
  • Automatic dirt disposal mechanism
  • 2 soft rubber brushes for effective and safe pile carpet cleans

Cons

  • While dustbin emptying isn’t as frequent, it’s still necessary
  • Expensive

How to Buy the Right Thick-carpet Vacuum

Fact: there’s a sea of good vacuums that get dirt, debris, and grime out of even the thickest carpets and rugs. But which product is the best plush carpet cleaner for the money?

If you read the thick carpet vacuum buying guide that follows, there’s a fat chance you’ll land something you’ll love. You’ll get a vacuum you can afford, one that restores dirty fluffy carpets to their pre-soil elegance and performance.

Keep a miss-nothing eye on the following:

1. Know What Vacuum Type to Pick

There’s as many as 11 different types of vacuum cleaners, but I describe the most common types in this buying guide.

Some vacuums perform certain cleaning jobs really well while they demonstrate lackluster performance in others. Others are all-rounders that clean floors, carpets, upholstery, and other surfaces with ease.

Luckily for you, I reviewed a bunch of options that do a great job when it comes to dislodging debris from high-pile-height carpets and rugs. Read the reviews above to know which pick promises the best cleaning performance overall. 

7 Common Types of Vacuums

Below is a list of types of vacuums you’ll find in many homes across the United States. Well, not everyone owns an expensive extractor for maintaining deep-pile carpets. But every self-respecting commercial carpet cleaner owns this speciality vacuum.

Here’s the list:

1.Upright Vacuums (Carpet Cleaning Pros)

What are upright vacuum cleaners? Most uprights are single-motor vacuums that have the suction motor, powerhead, dust bag (if any), and filter integrated in one fully functional unit.

This all-components-together design makes these devices seem heavier than they actually are. But uprights are cleaning beasts, which is why many homeowners love them.

If there’s one thing upright vacuums do exceptionally well, it’s cleaning carpets. Some of the best vacuums for cleaning deep pile carpets and shag rugs ever made feature an upright design.

Some uprights also clean bare floors well, but that’s not what they do best. The best upright vacuum models come with a height-adjustable powerhead. This height adjustability feature lets you set brushroll in the best possible position relative to the pile. This optimal beater brush/pile position ensures the suction motor works efficiently, at least most of the time.

Two Types of Upright Vacuums

Some upright vacuums let you turn off the brushroll by flicking a switch, but others don’t offer this feature.

Upright Vacuums Without a Brushroll Switch: The design of these vacuums integrates the beater bar and the motor into a single unit. With these single-motor machines, you can’t turn the brushroll off.

Upright vacuums without a beater bar control switch are designed for homes and apartments where almost all floors have carpeting.

Upright Vacuums With a Brushroll Switch: They feature an easy-to-use switch that turns the brushroll on or off as needed. Manufacturers incorporate this on/off feature into the vacuum design in two ways:

  • Using a clutch-like mechanism
  • Motorizing the brush through a separate motor.

When cleaning carpets, turn the brushroll on. It’s nearly impossible to clean a carpet effectively with a brushless vacuum. But when you transition to a bare, hard floor, turn the beater bar off. Because the brushroll isn’t designed to clean hard floors.

Upright vacuums with a brush roll switch are versatile. They clean bare floors well and carpets just as well. But when it comes to cleaning bare floors, canister 

2.Canister Vacuums (The Ultimate Bare-floor Vacuums)

What are canister vacuums? Canister vacuums come in two separate units and may be a single-motor or dual-motor design dependending on the model. They’re generally quieter than uprights. The canister unit contains the main motor, filtration media, and dust bag (if the model uses a dustbag). The second unit consists of the head which may have a seperate motor in some models. A flexible hose joins the canister unit to the powerhead unit.

This two-unit design with a flexible hose makes canister vacuums pretty maneuverable. The better canister vacuums also offer powerhead height adjustability. 

Canisters have built quite a reputation in one area: cleaning bare floors.

Three Types of Canister Vacuums

The vacuum market provides three kinds of canister vacuums namely:

  • Canister vacuums with a turbine nozzle
  • Canister vacuums with an electric nozzle
  • Canister vacuums with a bare-floor nozzle

Canister vacuums with a turbine nozzle:

They’re single-motor canister vacuums that feature an air-powered carpet nozzle. A considerably long flexible hose attaches the main suction motor unit to the powerhead unit. For the most part, the package also includes a bare floor attachment.

Canisters with a turbine nozzle are typically designed for bare floors and low-pile rugs and low-pile-height carpets. These vacuums are also good for reaching and cleaning various above-floor surfaces.

Can you upgrade a canister with a turbine nozzle so that it uses an electric nozzle? No.

Canister vacuums with an electric nozzle:

They’re dual-motor canister vacuums, one motor sits in the canister unit while the second motor (usually smaller) powers the carpet nozzle. A reasonably long hose (choose a hose that flexes well) connects the main motor compartment to the powerhead. Sellers typically include a bare-floor tool in the deal.

Electric-nozzle canisters use an electric motor-driven hose and extension wand. That’s why they’re generally pricier than turbine-nozzle and bare floor nozzle canisters. Some of the most expensive canister vacuums on the market are dual-motor vacuums that put out tons of carpet cleaning power.

These corded vacuums with two motors are the ultimate all-rounder home cleaning machine. They clean bare floors, carpets, and above-floor surfaces (stairs, coaches, ceilings and even walls) really well.

Canisters with a bare-floor nozzle:

These units come with a motorized suction unit that powers a dedicated bare floor nozzle.A long flexible hose links the canister unit to the bare floor nozzle.

Canisters with this kind of nozzle are best suited to cleaning bare floors and for above-floor cleans. You may also use a bare-floor nozzle to refresh carpets with low pile height.

Can you upgrade a canister with a bare-floor nozzle so that it uses an electric nozzle? No, you can’t. However, you can upgrade this vacuum type so that you can run a turbine nozzle.

A Quick Guide to Matching Canister & Upright Vacuums with the Right Surface Type

Below is a simple guide that should quickly and easily help you decide what type of canister or upright vacuum you need.

For homes with 100% carpet use:

  • An upright with a brushroll switch
  • An upright without a brushroll switch
  • A canister with an electric nozzle

For homes with 100% hard flooring use:

  • A canister with a bare-floor nozzle

For homes with a mix of hard flooring and carpet use:

  • An upright vacuum with a brushroll switch
  • A canister with electric nozzle
  • Canister with a turbine nozzle
3. Handheld Vacuums and Stick vacuums (for Quick, Light Cleans)

Handheld vacuum cleaners vs. stick vacuums, what should you choose? What’s the better bet for cleaning luxurious, long-fiber carpets?

Both handheld vacuums and stick vacuums are designed to take care of small cleaning jobs, typically dry messes. I’m talking about those crumbly cookie debris or cereal bits that drop to the floor or carpet from little, not-too-steady hands.

These vacs are also good for valeting cars, cleaning furniture, and collecting debris hiding under couches and tables. When small to medium-sized floors and carpets, draperies, and windowsills need a little TLC, put these vacuums to work.

But handheld vacuums and sticks aren’t one and the same thing. Some household cleaning tasks are best completed using a stick vacuum while others would be better handled using a handheld vacuum vacuum.

Handheld vacuums (Light, Compact, and Versatile)

Handheld vacuums are smaller, lighter, and usually cheaper versions of full-sized traditional vacuums. Most handheld vacuums are battery-powered or cordless.

Reasons to buy a handheld vacuum:

  • They’re light, compact, and highly portable.
  • Possibly the best companion for quick, light cleans.
  • Compact, space-saving design: Easily store them in small spaces such as shelves after use. You can even store them on countertops.
  • Most run on battery power: There’s no cords getting in the way, or being too short.
  • Most are affordable.
  • They’re versatile: They’re good for cleaning floors (not great for this task), carpets, and above-floor surfaces such as windowsills, furniture, countertops, couch cushions, stairs, curtains, shelves, closets, cabinets, and more. They’re also great at cleaning car interiors. You need to use the right attachment each time, obviously.
  • They’re great at cleaning hard-to-reach spots, areas regular vacuums struggle to reach or can’t reach: With a good handheld vacuum, removing dirt and debris from tight spaces is a breeze. Use them to catch dirt lurking between couch cushions and in between car seats.

Disadvantages of Handheld vacuums

  • Not as powerful as traditional vacuums
  • Not the most long-lasting options
  • Battery issues (sometimes)
  • Replacement battery sometimes expensive and hard to find
  • Not the best vacuums for cleaning bare floors
  • Not ideal for large homes
Stick Vacuums

Stick vacuums have that name because they look like, well, a stick. Stick vacuums look like regular upright vacuums, but they’re lighter, more compact, and easier to carry around. Also, unlike most canisters and upright vacuums, most stick vacuums are battery-powered. And the better ones can cost a pretty penny.

Difference Handheld Vacuums and a Stick Vacuums

Both handheld and stick vacuums feature smaller, lighter designs and easily reach spots traditional vacuums often can’t. Also, both kinds of vacuum are versatile, battery-powered, and have a relatively small dust capacity. Instead of the debris going into a dust bag or canister, it’s held in a small dirt cup, which is why they’re not ideal for large cleans.

Handheld vs. Stick Vacuum Differences:

  • Handheld vacuums are more compact than stick vacuums.
  • Handheld vacuums are easier to store.
  • Stick vacuums clean bare floors better than handheld vacuums.
  • Handhelds don’t convert to stick vacuums whereas some stick vacuums double as handheld cleaners.

Consider choosing a combo handheld/stick vacuum if you have a mix of floor and carpet. Remember, handhelds and stick vacuums aren’t designed to replace regular canisters and uprights. They’re used for quick carpet, floor, and car interior cleans — use them as supplementary cleaners rather than your main or only vacuum.

4. Corded vs. Cordless Carpet Vacuums

Corded Options: Corded vacuums only work when plugged into a power outlet. If the power cord isn’t long enough or you don’t have an outlet nearby, you won’t be able to use this kind of vacuum. Traditional vacuums such as uprights and canisters are typically electrical power-reliant.

Generally, corded vacuums are heavier, bulkier, and less portable vs. cordless options. However, corded options generate way more suction power compared to their battery-driven counterparts. Also, corded vacuums are cheaper (in general), more reliable, and more durable.

Battery-powered/Cordless Vacuums: Robot vacuums, most handhelds, and most stick vacuums usually run on battery power.

Decent cordless vacuum cleaners these days use better, longer-lasting batteries (usually lithium ion batteries).

On a full charge, expect 15minutes to 45 minutes of reliable cleaning power. The better ones can last 60 minutes or even longer.

With the exception of self-charging robotic cleaners, cordless options need recharging between uses. The typical recharge time runs from 1 to 5 hours. However, battery-powered handheld and stick vacuums that take almost 20 hours to charge!

Advantages of Corded Vacuums:

  • More affordable
  • More reliable
  • Good ones last reasonably long
  • No emissions
  • Affected by power outages
Corded Vacuum Disadvantages:
  • Only work when plugged in: not convenient
  • Most are heavy and bulky
  • Most aren’t ideal for awkward cleaning positions
Cordless Vacuum Pros
  • Not unwieldy power cord
  • Most are lightweight and highly portable
  • Great for quick cleans and spot cleaning
  • Most are versatile and ideal for hard-reach spots
  • Easier access compared to their bulkier corded counterparts
  • No emission
  • Easy to store
  • Some have swappable batteries that can be used across models
Cordless Vacuum Disadvantages:
  • Battery may die before a clean completes
  • Replacement battery can be expensive or even unavailable
  • Not always reliable
  • Generally require more maintenance
  • Dust cup needs more frequent emptying (not ideal for homeowners with allergies) 
5. Bagged vs Bagless Carpet Vacuums

It seems like there’s a rally toward bagless vacuums. But are bagless vacuum cleaners better than bagged options?

Bagged Vacuums

A vacuum cleaner technician who did a Reddit AMA a while back believes that bagged vacuums perform better than bagless ones.

Also, bagged models typically provide better air filtration, which makes them a great option for homes with pets. They’re also a good choice for allergy sufferers.

It gets better. Vacuums that collect dust, fine dust, pet hair, and other debris into an HEPA bag tend to crank out stronger suction. What’s more, this increased suction power is more consistent compared to bagless vacuums.

The dustbag (the primary filter) is often properly sealed so that less dust escapes during use or dust disposal. The downside? Replacement bag costs can really add up over time.

Decent bagged carpet vacuums often use disposable HEPA filters capable of filtering out as much as 99.97% of 0.3-micron particles.

But here’s a sobering fact: Both HEPA/hypoallergenic and regular vacuums push a portion of the captured allergens back out into the air.

Here’s good news: Generally, newer and pricier vacuum cleaners clean the air better and perform better overall.

Still, there’s no guarantee that the $1200 carpet vacuum you’re thinking of purchasing will demonstrate outstanding indoor air filtration capabilities.

Bagless Vacuums

Bagless vacuums use a canister that holds the dirt and debris until it’s time to dump the compartment out. This dirt holder often offers a larger dust capacity compared to bagless vacuums.

Bagless models usually have a washable dust filter. And some people choose them for this very reason. The technician in the Reddit AMA I referenced above says bagless models tend to need repair and maintenance more often vs. bagged models.

According to the Reddit repair pro, the best bagless options can last years. But bagged options usually win the longevity contest.

Bagged Vacuum Pros:

  • Better air filtration
  • Replacement bags can be bought in bulk to save money
  • Stronger,more consistent suction
  • Ideal for folks with allergies
  • Less pet allergens and debris escape via the air outlet
  • The best ones last really long

Cons

  • Hefty long-term replacement bag costs
  • Limited bag capacity in some cases
  • Bag must be replaced regularly for optimal performance
  • Some bagged options decline in performance even when the bag is half-full
  • Replacement bags not always available

Bagless Vacuum Pros:

  • No replacement bag costs
  • Easy to know when the dirt container fills up
  • Large dust holder
  • Easier to find because their popularity is on the rise

Cons

  • Emptying the canister tends to release a plume of dust (not ideal for those with allergies)
  • Tend to require repair more frequently
  • Best bagged vacs usually outlast the best bagless options
  • Air filters still need cleaning or replacement

Bottomline: decent bagged vacuums and bagless vacuums are OK, but bagged vacuum cleaners are clearly the better bet.Ultimately, choosing one or the other is a personal choice.

6. Carpet Extractors/Carpet Shampooers (Carpet Deep Cleaners) 

Carpet shampooers (also known as carpet extractors) are highly specialized machines that dive deep into thick carpets to degrime them.

First off, these cleaners work warm soapy water into soiled, high-density carpets. They then thoroughly agitate the carpet to loosen dirt, debris, and grime. Finally, the machine utilizes its vacuuming abilities to pull up the detached debris off of the base of the carpet fibers.

When it comes to cleaning really thick carpets with stains and all kinds of dirt, a good carpet extractor is the real deal.When you call in a carpet cleaning service to remove stains from a very thick carpet, this is the tool they use. 

Not surprisingly, shampooers are expensive. Because, like doctors, they’re highly competent pros.

One thing carpet extractors don’t do is catch dirt and debris on bare floors. They’re speciality vacuums, after all.

7. Robotic Vacuums (Not Great for Thick Carpets)

Robotic vacuums are highly compact and clean your surfaces with minimal human supervision. They’re cordless vacuums that rely on modern vacuum technology to automatically clean floors (and carpets to some extent).

There are corded robo-vacs and cordless options. Many people prefer cordless because who likes cords? 

These machines look different and are less powerful than conventional vacuums. Simply work the unit’s sensor settings to tell it where, when,and how often to clean your floor. The bot will obey you each time provided it’s not defective.

How do robotic vacuum cleaners find their way around the floor or carpet? Robotic vacuums rely on sensors to find their way around the floor or carpet.

High-end robot cleaners use infrared sensors while more affordable models count on physical boundary strips for dirt and obstacle detection.

Robo-vacs aren’t as powerful as traditional vacs because they typically feature a small air/debris inlet. Also, they have a smaller dust capacity compared to full-size vacs.

Are there any robotic vacuum cleaners that empty themselves?

Pretty much all pre-2010 robot vacuums didn’t incorporate a self-emptying feature into their design. But the ever-evolving vacuum technology has since given homeowners and apartment dwellers more convenient options.

Many robotic vacuums these days actually empty themselves. These self-emptying robot cleaners have a relatively large compartment that holds debris for days before you need to dump it out.

Some of the better robot vacuums also come with a self-charging feature!

Do Robotic Vacuums Clean Thick Carpets?

Robotic carpet vacuums aren’t the best option for cleaning plus pile. Most of them have small wheels that aren’t particularly agile over shag carpets.

The best bots for cleaning high-density carpets and shag rugs have larger wheels and automatically adjust the head height for different surfaces.

However, even the best robot carpet cleaners sometimes catch on rug tassels. Or it keeps cleaning already cleaned spots! Or it keeps hitting furniture legs when cleaning under the table.  

However, these sensor-guided guys work reasonably well when instructed to clean low-pile carpets and floors. 

Robot cleaners don’t clean surfaces as comprehensively as do traditional floor and carpet cleaners. But they’re convenient, save your back, and never forget to clean the floor.

iRobot claims that owning a floor-maintenance bot can shave almost 2 hours off your annual cleaning routine.

Important: A robotic vacuum isn’t intended to replace a traditional vacuum cleaner. It’s designed to do several light cleans between real cleaning sessions. Result? A less dusty home that won’t need frequent deep cleaning.

Robot Vacuum Pros

Robot cleaners are:

  • Time savers
  • Typically cordless
  • Always evolving
  • Have a compact design
  • Save your back
  • Some self-charge
  • Some empty themselves
  • Always remember to clean your surfaces
  • Share cleaning work with your regular vacuum
  • Clean bare floors and low-pile carpet reasonably well

Cons

  • Aren’t ideal for shag carpets
  • Sometimes make weird pathing
  • Self-changing and self-emptying features may not always work well
  • Expensive
  • Battery-powered models not 100% reliable

2. Suction Power, Brushroll and Suction Speed

To clean carpets and rugs with high pile properly, you don’t need the most powerful carpet vac on the market.

If the vacuum generates too much power and features stiff bristles, it’ll likely damage plush and delicate carpets. But softer brushes or turning off the brushroll can counter having too much cleaning force. On the other hand, if the suction is too low, the vac won’t do a thing for the rug.

If you have carpeted sections and hard-flooring spaces, go with a carpet cleaner with a beater bar switch. Turn the beater brush on when tackling debris seating deep in the pile and off when cleaning bare floors.

Suction speed: If you can control the suction speed, that’s good. So, find a decent variable-speed model.

3. Vacuum Powerhead Height Adjustability

If you’re cleaning bare floors or carpets exclusively, you don’t need to worry about head height adjustability.

But if you have both carpeted areas and hard floors, choose an option that lets you adjust the height of the powerhead to suit the surface you’re cleaning.

Many thick carpet vacs today come with this all-important feature. Make sure to check the product description for this crucial capability.

And if the unit you’re eyeing provides automatic head height adjustment, that’s even better. Such a vacuum automatically adjusts head height to different surface types. 

4. Attachment/Cleaning Tools: What’s in the Box?

Without the right tools, you’ll never clean a thick pile carpet properly. And if you use the wrong vacuum or cleaning attachment, you might even damage your expensive, plush carpet.

Some vacuums come with just the standard attachments such as bare floor brush and crevice tool for hard-to-reach dusty nooks. Others come with a bunch of tools that do different things.

What’s the best attachment for getting dirt and debris out of deep pile carpets? A good vacuum cleaner for thick pile carpets comes with a high-quality rotating brushroll. This tool dives deep in the pile, loosens up dirt and debris, and sucks everything up into the canister, dustbag, or dirt cup.

However, a rotating brush isn’t the best attachment for loop-pile carpets. Using a fast-rotating brushroll to dislodge soil buried deep in loopy carpets (think berber carpets) often gives them a frizzly texture that looks less appealing. And if a loose loop catches on the beater brush, pushing the vacuum might end up damaging the rug.

The tassels of certain cut-pile styles such as frieze carpets may wrap around the beater’s bristles. This can ruin these carpets besides potentially burning the vacuum motor.

Some cleaning pros also discourage brushing up thick-pile wool carpets. But not all wool carpets are delicate. 

Pro tip: Avoid brushing up loop pile style carpets and frieze carpets, and delicate wool carpets with a beater bar.

5. Carpet Pile Height, Pile Type, and Fiber Type

Pile height isn’t the same thing as pile type. And there’s different kinds of materials used to make residential carpets. 

Carpet Pile Height

What’s carpet pile? Carpet pile is what you see when you look at a carpet. It’s the cushy feel underfoot when you walk on it.

What’s carpet pile height? Carpet pile height refers to the actual length of the fibers of a carpet. Carpets are available in three different pile heights:

  • Low-pile carpets
  • Medium-pile carpets
  • High-pile carpets

What’s considered a high pile carpet? A carpet is described as a high pile or plush if its fibers stand ½”- ¾” tall. If the fibers are shorter than ¼”, it’s a low-pile carpet. And if fiber height stays in the ¼”-½” range, the carpet’s considered medium-pile.

Carpet Pile Type

In terms of construction style, carpets are classified as:

  • Loop pile
  • Cut pile
  • Cut-and-loop pile
Loop-pile Carpets

In loop pile carpets, the carpet manufacturer loops the fibers through the carpet backing and leaves intact — uncut, unsheared. Usually constructed from nylon, olefin (also called polypropylene), or wool, loop pile carpets have a rather tight construction which makes them durable and soil and stain resistant.

Advantages: Low-pile rugs and carpets are easy to clean. Also, they handle high traffic well and don’t show vacuum or foot marks. The berber carpet is a loop-style option.

Drawbacks: It’s easy to catch and pull these loops loose, which can make the carpet look less attractive over time. And because they tend to be shorter and tougher, they may not feel very cushy. Many people don’t like using them in bedrooms for that very reason. Instead, people use low pile shags to hide unsightly stairs and heavy-foot-traffic hallways. 

Low-pile carpets are pretty easy to clean. They can take heavy agitation without getting damaged. And they resist soil significantly better compared to plush choices.   

Cut-pile Carpets

When making these carpets, manufacturers cut the loops. Usually made from wool or polyester, these carpets are softer,cushier, and look more luxurious compared with looped options.

The world-famous shag carpet is a cut pile style option. Velvet pile/plush pile, textured pile, frieze cut pile, and Saxony cut are all different kinds of cut-pile carpets. Learn more about cut pile carpets here.

Drawbacks: Most cut-pile carpets are prone to crushing and matting when compressed. Manufacturers twist the fibers to minimize crushing and matting.

Additionally, cut-pile carpets aren’t super durable. Plus, vacuum cleaners and foot traffic leave visible marks on these carpets.

And because the fibers are typically long, these rugs can hide tons of debris.

Long dog hair and human hair tends to tangle the vacuum’s brushroll, and they can be a pain to remove. Unsurprisingly, cut pile carpets are harder to clean.

Cleaning Cut-pile Carpets

The best way to get dirt that’s hiding deep in cut-pile carpets is to use a vacuum with a rotating brush.

When buying a thick-carpet vacuum, choose a unit with a removable beater bar for easy hair removal.

And if you have a delicate carpet, pick an option with a brushroll switch so you can power off the brush if you need to.

Cut-and-Loop Carpets

Carpets made using the cut-and-loop construction method sit somewhere between cut-pile and loop-pile options. These rugs combine the best parts of cut-pile and loop-pile options.             

When creating these carpets, carpet designers let their creative side take full charge. The end product is an aesthetically pleasing piece of artwork that transforms the character of a room.

Carpet Fiber Type

Wool, nylon, polyester, olefin, and wool/acrylic blends are the most common carpet materials.

It’s crucial to review the fiber-content information on the sample before cleaning your carpet.

Wool carpets: High-grade wool carpetsare the most expensive because they’re the nicest-looking, cushiest, and softest without being delicate. And because wool fibers are naturally twisted, these carpets are super springy, retaining their original resilience for years. 

Woven using short-length natural wool fibers, they’re quite durable. Wool carpets are also great at insulating spaces, trapping in much-needed warmth when it gets cold.

Since wool fibers are natural, they’re ideal for folks with chemical sensitivity. And did you know that wool actually cleans your indoor air by absorbing and holding chemical compounds such as nitrogen dioxide and even formaldehyde?

However, wool carpets aren’t 100% chemical-free.They’re chemically treated to prevent carpet beetle larvae and moth damage.

Also, wool carpets absorb sounds and water well. Also, these carpets are somewhat safer due to their natural fire-resistance. Plus, they’re biodegradable and recyclable. Finally, wool floor coverings retain their original color for long. 

Wool Carpet Disadvantages

Once ignored stains set in, they can be hard to remove. Oily stains are even harder to tackle. Tip: clean up all water-based stains on wool immediately. When in doubt, hire a licensed and insured carpet cleaning expert.

According to the University of California, pests such as the varied carpet beetle, the black carpet beetle, and the furniture carpet beetle can cause enormous damage to carpeting.

And because wool has high water absorbency, too much dampness can lead to mold and mildew growth. Learn how to remove mold from a wool rug here.You need a carpet shampooer to complete this task.

Cleaning Shag Carpets Isn’t Easy

Cleaning long pile synthetic fiber carpets can be challenging, but cleaning wool shag carpets is even more difficult. Why? Because wool fibers overlap one another a lot forming numerous dirt-holding pockets. Consequently, these fibers trap in humongous amounts of dirt and debris.

No matter what rug type you’re cleaning, it’s easy to pull out tufts. So, much care is advisable while vacuuming these luxurious floor coverings.

Here’s the best resource I foundon how to correctly clean high-pile/shag carpets. When cleaning wool shags, run the vacuum in the direction of the nap.

Nylon Carpets

Although they’re cheaper than wool, nylon carpets are the most expensive synthetic-fiber options. But they’re soft (but not delicate), abrasion and stain-resistant, and long-lasting. Actually, these are the most long-lasting synthetic fiber carpets ever.

According to Floor Coverings International, synthetic carpets are the most suitable option for allergy sufferers. Perhaps that’s because mold and mildew are less likely to grow on synthetic fibers. 

Though not as good as wool carpets, nylon carpets bounce right back after compression. They’re typically used to cover high foot traffic areas.

Also, these carpets and rugs retain color for reasonably long. Plus, nylon discourages mold and mildew growth. Little wonder nylon carpets are the most popular type in American homes.

Polyester, Olefin, and Acrylic Carpet Fibers

Polyester is long-lasting and resists stains (except oily stains). It’s cheaper than nylon, but it’s not as resilient. Nor does it stand up too well to heavy foot traffic. Polyester is for low-traffic areas, and vacuum marks and traffic lanes show. Some are made using recycled plastic bottles, making their production a tad less harmful to the environment.

Durable polypropylene/olefin carpets have been traditionally used for commercial purposes, but they’re becoming more common in residential settings. Like nylon and polyester, they’re highly stain-resistant. And once dyed, the color rarely fades.

Dirt has a hard time getting between these dense (typically), low-pile carpets. Olefin is easy to vacuum, but high-pile shag carpets aren’t usually made of the material. This material doesn’t resist soil very well. And many people install olefin carpets in basements and even outdoors.

Like the others, acrylic carpets aren’t easily stained. And there’s less static shocks with acrylic carpets. But they’re not as durable, nor are they suitable for high-use areas. Be careful when cleaning acrylic carpets as the alkali content in some cleaners can adversely affect them, according to The Spruce. To make better carpets, carpet companies blend acrylic with wool.

Takeaway: Nylon and other synthetic shag carpets are generally easier to clean and maintain compared to wool carpets. That said, always read the care label to learn the recommended vacuuming or cleaning method.

Synthetic Carpet Pros
  • Cheaper than wool carpets
  • Easier to clean
  • Highly durable
  • Discourage mold and mildew growth
  • Resist stains well
Disadvantages of Synthetic Carpets
  • Generate static shocks
  • Some lose their original color over time
  • Some aren’t very durable
  • Fiber matting common
  • Not eco-friendly
Wool Carpet Pros
  • Retain original color for years
  • Look really nice
  • No static shocks
  • Highly resilient
  • Dehumidify the air
  • Clean the air: absorb NO2 and formaldehyde
  • Eco-friendly
Wool Carpet Cons
  • Expensive
  • Stain easily
  • Edible to moth and carpet beetle
  • Mold and mildew like them
  • Delicate wool can be challenging to vacuum

6. Vacuum Weight and Maneuverability

If you have mobility limitations, get yourself a decent robo-vac and supplement that with a cleaning service.

Robo-vacs have enough intelligence to navigate different areas of the room. They can even clean stairs and hard-to-reach spots such as under the furniture. And the best part? They don’t need human help to perform any of those complex maneuvers.

If you live in a tiny home or a standard apartment, get a lightweight vacuum. Most handhelds and stick vacuums are light enough and can be lifted to reach every dusty corner.

For large homes with vast floors and carpeted areas, it’s OK to pick a bulkier vacuum. But the vacuum shouldn’t be as heavy as a ton of brick.

7. Dust Collection Bag/Canister Size

For small cleans, you don’t need lots of debris-holding capacity. Sucking up dry stuff such as spilled coffee grounds and cookie crumbs shouldn’t require too much dust capacity.

You can use a small-capacity option such as a handheld vacuum, a stick vacuum, or a handheld/stick combo for such quick cleans.

But when cleaning an entire tile or hardwood floor, you need a large-dust-capacity vacuum. You need a full-size floor canister or a heavy-duty carpet upright vac.

The debris bag or dirt tank size in most full-size carpet vacuums is up to 3 times that of handheld and stick vacs.

8. Know the Filter Type the Unit Features

We already discussed bagged vs. bagless carpet vacuums. If interested in a bagged model (highly recommended), choose one that provides HEPA filtration. Because nothing cleans the air better than a unit whose filters meet the rather lofty HEPA standard. 

Note: all vacuums (including bagless carpet vacuums) have air filters. Disposable filters certainly cost money, but vacs using these filters 

9. Brand and Price

$100 vs. $1000 vacuums: are pricier ones always better? Yes, for the most part. As the price increases, you get more and better features. But past  $1,000, you’re not always guaranteed of better cleaning performance or even product quality.  

Best carpet vacuum brands? Miele canister vacuums and uprights are some of the best high-pile vacuums on the market today. But they’re expensive, which makes them less accessible.

Many Miele budget-constrained Miele vacuum lovers these days buy the much cheaper bagged Panasonic vacuums.

Other great pet hair vacuum brands: SEBO, Lindhaus, Zero G, Numatic Henry, Karcher, Riccar, and a few others.

High-pile Carpet Vacuum Brands to Avoid:

Are Dyson vacuums any good for carpet cleaning? Not really. Many vacuum repair technicians agree that most Dyson, Shark, and Tineco carpet vacuums suck (in a bad.

They just aren’t the best vacuums in terms of overall performance, maintenance, and longevity. Not surprisingly, most Dysons, Sharks, Tinecos, and many flimsy Chinese knockoffs are cheaper than Miele, SEBO, Zero G, or Lindhaus.

The web’s seen lots of horror stories told by cheap folks who bought a cordless Dyson carpet vacuum that died in a year. Or a cordless Shark pet hair vac that fell apart within months of purchase.  

When it comes to carpet vacs, you almost always get what you pay for. Do this: Buy the best vacuum cleaner you can afford and give it regular TCL. Chances are it’ll last a decade or even longer.

An older couple I know still have a Miele they got as a wedding gift 16 years ago. And that thing’s floor and carpet cleaning ability hasn’t declined one iota.

Frequently Asked Questions About High-pile Carpets

1. What Vacuum is Good on a High-Pile Carpet?

If you prefer a stick carpet vacuum, the Roborok H6 Adapt fits the bill for many homeowners and apartment dwellers. And Miele Complete C3 Alize Powerline is arguably the best-performing canister vacuum for high-pile carpets.

If you’re a diehard upright carpet vacuum fan, the Dyson Ball Animal 2 deserves the opportunity to serve. For those looking for a handheld option, look no further than the Shark Ultracyclone Pet Pro+. And if you value the convenience of robotic vacuum cleaners, the Neato D8 or Yeedi Vac Station should be worthy picks.

2. How Do You Vacuum a Very Thick Carpet?

To get dirt and debris out of a really thick carpet, use a high-pile carpet vacuum cleaner Preferably a vacuum with adjustable powerhead height or a removable beater bar (or one you can switch off).

Set the vacuum’s head to a surface-type-suitable height and choose a lower suction setting. Then, give the thick carpet a few passes to dislodge and suck up the dirt and debris sitting at the base of the carpeting.   

3. Can You Vacuum High-pile Rugs?

You can certainly use a high-pile-specific vacuum cleaner on a shaggy rug. However, you MUST pay adequate attention when cleaning a plush shag rug with regular carpet cleaning attachments. It’s easy to pull out the tassels. Instead, use a crevice tool. This pointy cleaning tool helps you access every dirty nook that sits between the tall fibers.

4. What’s the Best Way to Vacuum a Shag Rug?

Drape your shag rug over something tubular such as a railing. Hanging the rug this way causes the fibers to open up. With the long fibers spread out nice and wide, sink the pointy end of your crevice tool between the strands and start sucking up the dirt and debris.

This rug cleaning method is time-consuming and demands a bit of elbow grease. But using a crevice tool is definitely the best and safest way to degrime a dirty high-pile rug.

5. How Often Should You Vacuum a High Pile Carpet?

According to Normans Floorcovering, a 35-year-old Oregon-based carpeting installation company, high foot traffic areas should be vacuumed daily. As for light and medium traffic areas, two cleans each week is recommended. Deep-cleaning to tackle oily dirt and grime every 18 months is the final part of a comprehensive thick carpet cleaning schedule. Shaw Floors, a well-known flooring product manufacturer, agrees with this carpet cleaning frequency advice.

6. Do Carpet Cleaners Remove Stains?

Even the best thick-carpet vacuums don’t remove stains or odors. These gadgets are designed to clean up dry debris such as dust, sand, cereals, and crumbly food bits. For carpet stain removal, steam-mopping or deep-cleaning with a capable carpet cleaner is usually the best strategy. Alternatively, hire a carpet-cleaning professional to tackle those stubborn carpet stains.

7. Can I Use a Regular Vacuum to Clean a Very Thick Carpet?

You can use an everyday carpet vacuum with a beater bar, adjustable-height powerhead, and customizable suction power to clean a thick carpet. For cleaning delicate pile, you can use a regular vacuum without a brush bar, or turn the rotating brush off if possible.

8. What Are the Top Carpet Vacuum Maintenance Tips?

Don’t suck up wet spills if the unit’s designed for cleaning up only dry debris. Always keep the machine clean to slow down wear and tear. Remove trapped pet hair, human hair, and strings out of the bristles.

Also, replace the vacuum’s belt once it wears out or stretches too much. In addition, replace the filter in bagless vacuums according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Empty the debris bag when the “full-bag” indicator comes on, or when you notice a performance decline. If the vacuum gets clogged, turn it off and remove the blocking object. Give the machine regular maintenance checks and replace any broken parts.

You’ve grasped how to choose a good vacuum for plush pile carpets and rugs. Now, what’s the next step? Pick any of the five options reviewed in this buying guide. Or, head over to Amazon and grab whichever option you believe deserves your money.  

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