Buying a vacuum for your carpeted floors can be quite a challenge. Some types of carpets are delicate and easily damaged during cleaning. Others require powerful cleaning machines due to their long and dense fibers.
A vacuum that cleans carpets well should be powerful, capable to remove embedded dirt, but gentle, able to avoid damaging the fibers.
How do you identify a cleaner that fits the type of carpet in your home? That’s what this guide reveals. I will advise you on the things to look for, the kind of vacuum that suit specific carpet types, and more.
Top 12 Vacuums Perfect for Cleaning Carpets
Some of you are in a hurry, so without any fuss, here’s the list of the 12 best carpet vacuums which I’ve updated in January, 2023:
|Rank||Product name||Appearance||Price on Amazon||Type of vacuum||Carpet type|
|#1||Miele Complete C3 Brilliant||$1,703.95||Canister||All types|
|#2||Miele Blizzard CX1 HomeCare||$699.99||Canister||All types|
|#3||Shark APEX DuoClean||$374.99||Upright||Low and Medium pile|
|#4||Shark APEX UpLight||Price not available||Corded stick||Low and Medium pile|
|#5||Shark Navigator Zero-M||$239.99||Upright||Low and Medium pile|
|#6||Shark Navigator Zero-M Pet Pro||$244.99||Upright||Low and Medium pile|
|#7||Oreck Magnesium RS||$399.99||Upright||All types|
|#8||Soniclean Soft Carpet||$449.99||Upright||All types|
|#9||iRobot Roomba i7+||$799.00||Robot||Low pile|
|#10||Roborock S6||$599.99||Robot||Low pile|
|#11||Dyson V11 Torque Drive||$684.99||Cordless stick||Low pile|
|#12||Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean||$516.00||Upright||Low and Medium pile|
|#13||Dirt Devil Razor||$94.08||Upright||All types|
Miele Complete C3 Brilliant
Miele Complete C3 Brilliant is not just a premium vacuum; it’s a chance to manage all your carpet and rug cleaning endeavors using a modern and maneuverable canister. The Complete C3 line of compact vacuum cleaners from Miele is astounding. Almost all models are perfect for carpets, but Brilliant has the most features. Built with the exclusive German technology, it has virtually everything you would ever want from such an appliance: powerful suction, fabulous hospital-grade filtration, digital controls, LED lighting, and a complete set of attachments. A key feature is the fantastic warranty of 10 years (5 years for the motor). From the bottom up, I can’t find any good reason for not buying this vacuum cleaner, except of course its spicy price. The Brilliant comes with three different cleaning heads: the SEB236 Premium Electrobrush, the SBD 285-3 AllTeQ Combination tool, and the SBB 400-3 Parquet Twister XL floor brush. The SEB236 Premium Electrobrush is the one recommended to be used on all types of carpet.
Miele Blizzard CX1 HomeCare
Miele Blizzard CX1 HomeCare is homologous to the Complete C3 Brilliant. The main difference between the C3 and the CX1 lines is that the first uses bags, while the later is bagless. Although much more expensive than your average bagless canister, the CX1 makes no compromises. If you buy this vacuum, you’ll get a powerful motor, a reliable filtration system, a useful set of accessories and a substantial warranty. The CX1 HomeCare comes with the same premium floorhead SEB 236, which can be adjusted in height and which features LED lighting.
Shark APEX DuoClean
Shark APEX DuoClean is the most complete upright vacuum from SharkClean, including both their traditional and new technologies. You can use it in many circumstances, thanks to the LiftAway concept. The Zero-M technology ensures the brushroll won’t get tangled. The DuoClean technology ensures the vacuum cleans carpets just as good as bare floors. As usual, the product is completely sealed and protected by a HEPA filter.
Shark APEX UpLight
If weight is an issue, the Shark APEX UpLight is one of the best options for you. The UpLight model enjoys all the benefits of a standard vacuum, without the extra weight. Given its design, the UpLight has all that it takes to handle low-pile and medium carpets.
Shark Navigator Zero-M is cheaper than the previous two Shark models. The uniqueness of this vacuum cleaner draws from its ability to remove more dirt from carpets and rugs compared to many other medium-range bagless uprights. A key feature of the Navigator Zero-M is the HEPA filtration system, which is capable of trapping various forms of dirt, including pollen, allergens, and dust.
The improved version of the Navigator Zero-M is the Navigator Zero-M Pet Pro. It has a bigger dustbin (90 oz. vs 70 oz. in the original version) and a more powerful motor (9.5 amps vs 6.7 amps). On the downside, it doesn’t come with the LiftAway feature, weighs a bit more (16 lbs. vs 13.4 lbs) and consumes more electricity (1150W vs 800W).
Oreck Magnesium RS
If you purchase an Oreck Magnesium RS, you’ll get the best upright from Oreck. The Magnesium RS is not like your average vacuum: you’ll get a powerful appliance, a versatile cleaner, and a reliable product. You won’t get too many accessories (nor height adjustment for that matter), but for what it’s worth it, I believe this product works very well on most types of carpets and rugs. The Magnesium RS is lightweight (about 8 lbs.) and agile. It features a strong 6500 rpm motor that is designed to handle entangled rug fibers. It is not intended to be equipped with a hose but compensates with a very high dust capacity.
Another perk is the fact that it is bagged. Although bagless units have taken over the market, traditional vacuuming ways still prove to be efficient and sometimes, even more practical. Most of the time, bagged units seal dust flawlessly. This Oreck comes with HEPA filtration, intuitive controls placed on an ergonomic handle, and a 1-year warranty (5 years on the belt). Overall, I’ve got to give it to Oreck, they’ve assembled one of the most straightforward yet satisfying vacuum cleaners I’ve ever tested.
Soniclean Soft Carpet
If you have sensitive carpets, the Soniclean Soft Carpet may be your best option. Soniclean built its entire brand with this focus in mind. Thus, their product features unique characteristics, such as an adjustable vent system, a brushroll made of soft nylon bristles, large front wheels, a beater bar that vibrates 200 times per second, and a patented flagrance dispersing system. Since we’re here, there’s plenty of room to mention the H13 HEPA filtration, the full bag indicator, or the optimized digital motor, which reduces energy consumption by 50%.
iRobot Roomba i7+
iRobot Roomba i7+ needs no introduction. This is a premium robot vacuum from iRobot that is supposedly working even better than the newer s9+. The i7 is the last Roomba which comes in a round shape. The robot can find its way into people’s homes based on the camera readings from its top video sensor. Besides the usual premium features that one can get from almost any robot vacuum over $500, the plus version comes with a dock that can store up to 30 bins of debris. As with any respectable robot vacuum, the i7+ is perfect for low-pile carpet.
Roborock S6 is the newest robot vacuum from the Xiaomi company satellite. Better app control, improved suction, and more dependable batteries are among the things offered by the freshest Roborock. Unlike the i7 from iRobot, the S6 uses a laser to map the environment. This contributes to a more granulated SLAM quality. The S6 works great on bare floors and low-pile carpet.
Dyson V11 Torque Drive
I couldn’t complete this top without mentioning the cordless Dyson V11 Torque Drive. This stick can be used on virtually any kind of surface, except for thick carpets. The V11 comes with LCD, HEPA filters, a decent array of attachments, and a considerable price.
Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean
The most powerful Dyson is also versatile enough to be used on low and medium-pile carpet. Although Dyson hasn’t updated its line of upright vacuums in a while, their latest creation is one of their best. Everything, starting with the specs and ending with the extensive set of accessories, is well in place. The Ball Animal 2 Total Clean can handle almost any type of dirt on almost any type of surface (except, of course, high-pile shaggy carpets).
Dirt Devil Razor
By using a double helix of stiffer bristles placed at angles to the floor, the Dirt Devil ensures that it will knock loose even the most firmly embedded grit in just one pass. A proprietary TurboClaw head is included for hardwood or deep shag floors, keeping you prepared for every occasion, and the neck of the bar sports nearly 180 degrees rotation in every direction to get into pesky corners and under large furniture.
Physical dimensions for this vacuum cleaner are a bit on the chunky side, measuring 11”x13” at the base and standing 31.5” tall unextended. The machine weighs in at 13 lbs, putting on the higher end of the scale, and comes with an extender rod and quick-clean rod for tackling a variety of corners and messes.
Particularly useful for carpets is the TurboClaw attachment, which combs easily through the shag of your rug or carpet and catches the pet hair while not wearing out the rug itself. A powerful 360-degree cyclone and reusable filter mean that this machine gives plenty of suction and can do so for many years to come.
Why Choose a Vacuum Specially Designed for Carpets?
Contrary to what you may have heard, you cannot use any vacuum to clean carpets. Many people wrongly think that only suction matters. Others assume a rotating brush roll to be the most important feature. While both elements are useful, the kind of vacuum you choose depends on many things, such as the type of carpet, pile height and density, amount of dirt to clean, and others. Specific vacuum capabilities are essential, while others only cause damage.
To give you an idea of how to select a carpet vacuum, here are various features and their effects.
Carpets hide dirt deep in the fibers. To remove it, you need to use a powerful vacuum. That means selecting a model whose suction is high enough. Most of the time, that kind of vacuum cleaner will be an upright or canister type. A corded one too, especially if the carpet is high-pile and large. Corded vacuums usually use strong motors and create an equally powerful airflow.
Some cordless stick and upright vacuums can clean carpeted surfaces. The only problem is that they may need charging too frequently and cause cleaning tasks to take longer. When selecting a cordless stick vacuum for carpets, consider both its suction level and runtime. The fibers of carpets trap a lot of dirt, and a powerful airflow is needed to suck it up. Carpets also require more passes of the floor head than hard floors and the reason for the longer runtime.
A rotating brush roll agitates debris and directs it to the suction path. However, not all carpets can stand the action of the bristles. Hard bristles pull at the fibers of the carpets, causing them to loosen or even come undone. If the carpet is the woven type, the strands may also unravel. Most sensitive carpets require nozzles that do not use spinning brushes. If you have such surfaces in your home, it’s safer to choose a suction-only cleaning head. Only ensure it delivers adequate cleaning power to compensate for the lack of agitation.
As mentioned earlier, a canister or upright would be the right choice if looking for powerful cleaning. Some cordless vacuums would also do. Only choose a model that uses a powerful engine. If you have other floors to clean besides the sensitive carpet, a suction-only nozzle may not be the best option. Go for a vacuum that comes with an on/off button for the brush instead. You can then switch it on when cleaning non-sensitive floors and off when vacuuming the carpet.
Some carpet types can resist damage. If you have them, a rotating bristled brushroll is a perfect cleaning tool. It will remove even the debris in the pile depths. High traffic areas require that kind of brush, especially if you have to remove the sand that the soles of shoes carry. An on and off button for the spinning brush would be an advantage. You will need it when you have to use the vacuum on delicate hard floors.
One of the challenges when cleaning carpets is the suction seal caused by the fibers. When the airflow is too strong and the floor head too high, the nozzle may pull at the carpet too powerfully, causing the pile to blocks the suction port. That results in a stuck floor head and a vacuum that requires extra effort to push along.
Elevating the height of the nozzle solves the problem. However, that’s only possible if the vacuum comes with that feature. Some models detect the type of surface and change the height of the cleaning head accordingly. That can be when you transition from bare to carpets, or low to high-pile carpets. Others require you to adjust the height manually.
The height adjust feature performs two functions. It allows you to change the nozzle level when the vacuum hugs the surface too closely and makes the vacuum difficult to push around. It also helps to improve cleaning efficiency by lowering the nozzle when it’s too high and the airflow not providing effective pickup of dirt. Both auto and manual adjustments work identically, the difference being in the level of usability and comfort.
The usefulness of suction adjustment is similar to that of the nozzle height. When cleaning dense carpets, too much suction causes a seal that leads to a stuck vacuum. Reducing the suction releases the cleaning head and makes using the vacuum easier. Some models can detect surfaces and adjust suction to suit the type of floor. Others are manual – only the user can make adjustments.
Small wheels can get caught up in the fibers causing the vacuum to get stuck. For smooth cleaning without tangles, choose large-wheeled models. These move through the carpet pile effortlessly, plus they are easier to push. Rubber wheels are also safer to use on carpets than plastic ones. They won’t cause damage to the fibers, which is what you always want to avoid when cleaning pricey carpet types.
Carpets attract a lot of dirt and hold it in the fibers. They’re home to all types of allergens from dust to mold spores and dust mites. During cleaning, these allergic particles get sucked up alongside other debris. Unless filtered appropriately, the allergens might get back into the air and cause a health risk. Different vacuums use different filters for the exhaust air. HEPA filters are the most common. They are also highly efficient, with the ability to retain 99.97% of the particles that make a large part of allergens.
Besides the exhaust filter, consider vacuums that also feature sealed systems. An airtight vacuum will not have openings through which particles can escape. The combination provides for a safe vacuum cleaner, especially when the user suffers from allergies. Manufacturers usually indicate if their vacuums are fully sealed.
How to Choose a Vacuum for Specific Types of Carpets
Carpets vary in the size and type of pile, the material used to make them, and other features. When selecting the vacuum to clean your carpet, you will be faced with different vacuums to choose from. Your first decision should be the type of vacuum to purchase. The options will include upright, canisters, sticks, and robots. Canister and upright vacuums are among the best for large carpeted surfaces, especially if the carpet isn’t the sensitive type. They clean powerfully, plus they’re usually corded and can clean for extended periods. Stick vacuums are best when used on low-pile carpets with less dense fibers.
If the carpeted surfaces do not cover large areas, some robot vacuums can clean certain types of carpets. However, I would recommend a robot only if your home is low-traffic or for daily cleanups before the major vacuuming sessions. The best robot should have high suction power, auto height adjust feature, and large wheels that glide over carpets without getting caught in the fibers.
The type of carpet you have should dictate the type of vacuum you go for or the features to consider. Here are the abilities to look for in relation to the majority of the carpet types.
Plush carpets are dense and soft under the feet. They’re luxurious and popular with many homeowners due to their comfortable feel and texture. Due to the densely packed fibers of plush carpets, they’re among the most challenging to clean. The strands often get into the suction path, blocking the free flow of air and causing the vacuum to fail. It becomes impossible to move it around until you turn it off to release the sucked up part of the carpet.
Plush carpet manufacturers usually recommend certain types of vacuums. These are cleaners that will not cause damage to the pile. Here is a look at their characteristics. The first attribute to look for is suction control. That’s because the soft and dense pile of these carpets often blocks the suction path of the vacuum. In such situations, reducing suction releases the strands or fibers, and the vacuum regains its performance.
Consider the height adjust feature, too. The level of the cleaning head can affect a vacuum’s operation in two ways. If too high, cleaning power would be significantly reduced. Too low, and the vacuum may stick to the carpet and fail to budge. That height adjustment feature allows you to raise or lower the nozzle level until it can clean effectively but without pulling at the carpet and causing a suction seal. Another essential feature to consider is HEPA filtration. You don’t want allergens flying around.
In short, a vacuum for plush carpets should have these qualities:
- Allow for suction and nozzle height adjustment
- HEPA filtration and sealed system
- Designed to clean plush carpet types
Shag carpets have this shaggy appearance and that’s the reason for their name. Due to the long fibers, shag carpets harbor a lot of dirt, including allergens. They need regular cleaning, especially when placed in a high-traffic area. The challenge to clean shaggy rugs arises from their long fibers that also come off quickly. Using an aggressive vacuum, therefore, would result in the loss of a few fibers every cleaning session. The threads can, too, get caught in the beater bar and affect its effectiveness.
To avoid damaging the carpet as well as prevent tangles, use a product without a rotating brush roll. It can be a type that comes with a suction-only attachment or one whose brush roll can be removed. If you have to buy a model that features a powered nozzle, select a type that offers a way to stop the brushroll rotation, such as an on/off button. The vacuum should be capable of removing debris from deep down the fibers without the help of a beater brush. Therefore, select one that offers immense suction power. It can be an upright or canister. Some sticks can also clean powerfully.
Another feature to consider when choosing a vacuum for a shag carpet is the filtration level. Only go for those that use HEPA filtration or technology that offers similar capabilities. These carpets hold a lot of particles and cleaning them without a proper filter can expose you to allergens. Choose a vacuum that uses large wheels, too. It will move over the carpet’s surface smoothly without getting entangled in the pile.
In summary, if you have shag carpets, look for a vacuum that:
- Offers powerful suction
- Uses HEPA filtration and sealed system
- Features an on/off button for the brush roll or suction-only nozzle
- Uses large wheels
Preferred for their ability to resist damage, Berber carpets are becoming popular again. Although not as soft and luxurious as the shag and plush types, these carpets are more durable and suitable for high-traffic places. Berber mats are also relatively easy to clean. However, that doesn’t mean you can use any vacuum. Some will still cause damage to the carpet, especially if they’re too aggressive. To help you select the right model, here are the things to look for.
Different materials can be used to make these carpet types. The most expensive is wool, and the cheaper ones are Olefin or nylon. Berber carpets are made of wool, which presents another cleaning problem. Damage to a loop would cause the whole row of strands to come undone, and one of the reasons to choose the cleaning device carefully. As we have seen, you need a cleaning tool that will not disturb the fibers of this type of carpet. That means a suction-only floor head. The bristles of a rotating brush would pull at the fibers causing them to loosen over time.
Alternatively, you can select a vacuum that features an on and off button for the brush roll. Another reason not to use a powered brush is the high temperatures it produces when spinning. If your Berber carpet is made from nylon fibers, the hot beater brush can cause damage and reduce the carpet’s lifespan. Because the vacuum will not be using a rotating brush to excite dirt, suction power is an important consideration when selecting a vacuum for Berber carpets. Ensure it cleans powerfully enough.
Do not forget the filtration level, too. Just like any other surface, your Berber carpet will contain different types of allergens. You may also want to look for additional features such as dustbin capacity. Many people use these carpet types in areas that are most frequented, which means there will be a lot of debris to pick up every cleaning session. If you choose a bagged vacuum, the capacity may not be a problem. Most bags are usually large. Some bagless vacs come equipped with small bins. Ensure you pick the right model that offers adequate storage for vacuumed dirt.
These are the attributes of a Berber carpet vacuum in brief:
- High suction power
- Suction-only cleaning or a brush roll that can be switched off
- HEPA filtration
Mohawk carpets are generally designed to be easy to maintain. They resist stains, heavy usage, and other forms of abuse. Despite Mohawk carpets being hardy and durable, it’s not advisable to use any vacuum type to clean them. You need to be diligent with your selection or end up with the wrong cleaning device. Here are recommendations for the various categories of this type of carpet.
SmartStrand Silk/Silk Reserve – This Mohawk carpet is soft and stain-resistant. It’s easy to look after since you do not need to worry about stains. However, the carpet’s delicate nature makes it somewhat difficult to clean. The fibers may get in the way to block the suction path and cause the vacuum to require more force to push. A cleaner that comes with these two features would be a perfect one for this type of carpet; height adjustment to raise the nozzle whenever you experience a suction seal, and suction reduction settings to free a stuck nozzle.
Wear-dated – with woven strands of durable nylon material, the wear-dated carpet is stain resistant and durable. It can withstand different situations, including the action of a rotating brush roll. You can, therefore, use a sturdy canister, upright, or stick vacuum to clean this type of carpet without worrying about damage.
AirO – The AirO is entirely made from recycled plastic, with a layer of felt padding to make it soft under the feet. The carpet is one of the easiest to clean, seeing that there are no fibers that may come off. As a result, you can use any vacuum provided it offers a decent suction. The only thing to worry about is the plastic part of the carpet, which can be damaged by high temperatures. It’s, therefore, essential that the model you choose comes with a brushroll on/off button. That’s because the heat produced by a spinning beater brush can cause damage. Or, you could select a vacuum that uses no rotating brush.
ForeverFresh Ultrasoft – as its name indicates, the ForeverFresh Ultrasoft remains fresh smelling and is a carpet that’s meant for homes with pets. It uses a safe chemical, zeolite, to tackle pet odor and other unpleasant smells in your home. The carpet is also stain-resistant and not difficult to maintain. However, it’s a soft type of carpet and made from plastic. That means the best vacuum to clean it should not feature a powered beater brush. Better still a type that allows you to turn off the brush roll when cleaning the carpet.
EverStrand – this type of Mohawk carpet features fibers made from recyclable plastic. You can use different types of vacuums to clean it, provided the suction is high enough. Made from plastic material, the EverStrand carpet is susceptible to damage by excessive heat. For this reason, I would recommend a vacuum that actively uses a spinning brush roll. The resulting heat would cause damage to the fibers. To ensure sage cleaning, consider a vacuum that doesn’t use a beater brush. You could also choose a model that comes with a removable brush roll settings to switch it off.
SmartCushion – although not a carpet, the SmartCushion is worth mentioning here. It’s an underlay made of foam material. People use it to make floors more cushiony by placing it underneath carpets. SmartCushion shouldn’t influence the type of vacuum to buy. Instead, base your choice on the type of carpet.
Mohawk suggests several features for the vacuums that can be used on their carpets. Here’s a summary:
- Plush carpets – the carpet maker advises against vacuums that cause a suction seal. These are the type of cleaners that do not allow you to adjust suction and nozzle height.
- Shag, Frieze, or Loop carpets – for these types of carpets, Mohawk recommends vacuums that use a detachable beater brush for suction-only cleaning.
- Other carpet types – these are not damaged by a rotating brush roll or beater brush, and the carpet manufacturer suggests no particular vacuums.
Coir carpets are trendy, but unfortunately, really tough to clean. Although many good quality models reach $30/sqm, people love them because they give an elegant feeling to the whole room. I bet you’ll find a lot of these on top rental apartments from Airbnb, Booking, TripAdvisor, and so on.
A vacuum cleaner that would work on these needs to have good suction, soft brush bristles, and most importantly, it needs to be light — dragging a 25 lbs unit all over the flooring will eventually damage the coir carpet fibers. The suction power is decisive: I’ve met people that we’re using the hose alone, with no head nozzles attached, to gain just a little more “juice” from the unit.
My main recommendation for this type of flooring is a powerful canister. Miele has an excellent range of models that would fit the job description. There are cheaper options for those with a tight budget, so make sure you also check units from Panasonic, Electrolux, or Dyson. Anything with over 300 AW should do just fine. Speaking of Dyson, if you own a small condo, you might find useful its latest cordless, the V11. On max mode, it provides 150 AW, enough to get most of the stuff out of your coir carpets.
Other stuff to take home
Proper maintenance is the only practice that will keep your carpets looking new for a reasonable period. While vacuuming is presented as one of your best cleaning options, not all vacuum cleaners are suitable to be used on very delicate carpets and rugs. If you’re going for a general-purpose appliance, search for a good vacuum cleaner with different floor settings. When opting for an appliance specially meant to remove dirt and debris from carpets and rugs, on the other hand, ensure you settle for one that has an excellent filtration system, preferably HEPA or S-class filtration. This way, it can pick the finest of particles while being protected from mites and allergens.
Motor and suction power are also important considerations. Since carpets are stubborn to clean, you need high suction power. Whether you buy a canister vacuum or not, it is not ideal to use a hard brush on soft fiber rugs, a reason why you need a powerful motor and high suction to dislodge dirt from these surfaces. On the other hand, a 250+ AW suction may damage delicate carpets. Suction control should allow users to limit the airflow as pleased.
If you settle for a bagless vacuum cleaner, ensure that the dirt cup is either transparent or has an indicator to alert you that it is full. Similarly, a low base will allow you to clean areas under furniture. Other “nice-to-have” features include:
- An ergonomic design
- Scrubber attachments
- Multiple accessories
- Several brushroll types
Carpets come in different types, with varying pile heights and densities. Different materials, too. All these variations make choosing the right vacuum for your carpeted floors difficult. The wrong choice can result in damaged fibers or a device that doesn’t remove dirt efficiently. Using the recommendations discussed in this guide, you will know what to look for when selecting a vacuum for the carpets in your home. The models in each carpet category are top selections. Use them to make your shopping easier.
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I’m Jason Moe Roberts, an appliances expert and blogger. I’ve worked at Walmart for more than 15 years, in the house appliance department. I love to use home equipment and I spend a lot of time testing the best products and reviewing them. My family and friends also recommend me as a caring person, a great dad and a loving husband.