Cozy shag carpets may look luxurious and feel soft on the feet, but their long and dense fibers are known for trapping dust, dirt, and hair, making these carpets tough to maintain. To keep your shag carpets clean and plush, you’ll need a vacuum that’s up for the job.
The best vacuum for shag carpet should be able to gently pick up dust, dirt, and other particles without causing any damage or tangling to your rug. To ensure that you can cover all floor types, consider purchasing a vacuum with adjustable suction power or a height-adjustable vacuum head. This way, you’ll be able to clean hardwood floors and shag carpets with one machine.
Read on for guidance on how to choose the best vacuum for cleaning shag carpet, and why these high-quality models are top picks.
- BEST OVERALL: Kenmore Elite 81714 Ultra Plush Canister Vacuum
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Eureka PowerSpeed Turbo Upright Vacuum Cleaner
- BEST UPRIGHT: Hoover WindTunnel 2 Whole House Rewind
- BEST CANISTER: Miele Electro+ Canister Vacuum
- BEST STICK: Hoover ONEPWR Evolve Cordless Upright Vacuum Cleaner
- BEST FOR PETS: Kenmore 31140 Pet-Friendly Upright Vacuum
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Vacuum for Shag Carpet
A multi-floor vacuum with adjustable suction or vacuum head height can handle high-pile carpet in addition to other flooring types. When shopping for a vacuum for shag carpet, consider the vacuum type, design, filtration system, and additional attachments and cleaning features.
Most vacuums that can handle shag carpets are upright, canister, or stick vacuums. These full-size vacuums have the power and adjustability features needed to clean thick carpets.
- Canister vacuums, as the name implies, have a canister that contains the motor and dust container, and a separate hose, pole, and vacuum head. The canister includes a generous dust bin capacity and a powerful motor for strong suction. The long hose and pole can provide decent reach to clean up high as well as across floors. Most canister vacuums are corded.
- Upright vacuums consist of a single upright unit, unlike canister models. Despite their shape, upright models can still accommodate a powerful motor and large capacity. Most upright vacuums are corded, and their stiff, upright shape can make them tougher to maneuver. However, many have extended hose features to handle non-floor surfaces such as drapes and furniture.
- Stick vacuums are lightweight, small, and easy to maneuver. They’re similar to upright vacuums but are much more compact: All of their parts are contained in one skinny unit. Cordless options are available for added flexibility.
Corded vs. Cordless
Corded vacuums plug into an outlet for power. This consistent stream of power ensures that they’ll have enough juice to get you through your chores, but they will be constrained by the length of the cord. Canister, upright, stick, and handheld vacuums come in corded versions.
Cordless vacuums are battery-powered and don’t need to be plugged in. Designed for portability and flexibility, these vacuums are lightweight and easy to carry. To make them as lightweight as possible, many have a smaller capacity and smaller motor, making most cordless options less powerful.
Instead of being limited by a cord, they’re constrained by their battery life, which usually lasts between 15 and 45 minutes on a charge. Stick, handheld, and robot vacuums come in cordless designs.
Bagged vs. Bagless
Bagged vacuums collect dust, dirt, and whatever else is lying on the floor into a disposable bag, which needs to be swapped out when full. When it comes time to empty the vacuum, just toss the bag in the trash—no need to touch the dirt and grime inside. This low-contact emptying can benefit allergy sufferers, as the bag keeps everything contained. However, buying new vacuum bags will be an ongoing cost with these models.
Bagless vacuums have a canister or dust cup that holds dirt and dust. When full, these canisters are emptied into the trash. This raises the risk of allergen exposure, and users will need to get their hands in there to clear any stuck gunk or hairballs. The upside to bagless vacuums? No vacuum bags to purchase.
Suction power is an important feature to consider in a vacuum for shag carpets. While strong suction is crucial for cleaning, too much suction can be detrimental. If suction is too strong, it can form a seal between the vacuum head and dense carpet fibers. This seal can make it difficult—or even impossible—for the vacuum to sweep back and forth across the carpet’s surface. The high suction can also damage or tangle some shag carpets.
To prevent this problem, consider a vacuum with an adjustable suction-strength setting. This feature allows users to adjust the power for dense carpets. A strong suction setting is useful for sucking up heavier particles, such as sand and dirt. If the vacuum gets stuck, reducing the suction strength will make for a smoother run.
High-quality vacuums have a filter system to trap particles and prevent them from recirculating back into the air. Soft shag carpets can hold on to dust, dander, and allergens, so an effective filter is a must for a cleaner home. Many vacuums have a multistep filtration system, and these filters can be disposable or washable.
Those with allergies may consider a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. HEPA vacuums filter up to 99.97 percent of particles measuring 0.3 microns. These fine filters can trap common allergens like dust, pet dander, mold spores, and pollen. An effective filtration system traps these particles in the vacuum, leaving cleaner surfaces and cleaner air behind.
There are a number of attachments that can make a vacuum more convenient to use. While vacuums are designed to clean floors, cleaning attachments can help them tidy other indoor surfaces.
Common attachments include upholstery, brush, and crevice accessories. Crevice tools are ideal for cleaning along baseboards and in corners, soft brushes for wiping upholstery and furniture, and stiff brushes for picking up pet hair. Some vacuums for pet hair include a mini brush head attachment with a beater bar to clean fur from furniture and pet beds.
Between shag carpet types, there can be a range of textures, density, and pile heights. Some shag carpets have thick and twisted fibers, while others have a fine, fur-like texture. To effectively clean shag, as well as other flooring in the home, consider a vacuum with additional features like an optional beater brush, height-adjustable vacuum head, and large wheels.
- Beater brush: Most carpet vacuums have a vacuum head with a motorized rotating brush. This beater brush feature agitates carpet fibers to dislodge dust, hair, and dirt. A beater brush works well on low- to medium-pile carpets, but it can be too rough or cause tangles on high-pile shag carpets. For this reason, consider a height-adjustable vacuum head. This feature means you can raise the beater brush high enough to prevent entanglement. Some beater brushes can be switched off to avoid this issue.
- Height-adjustable vacuum head: A height adjustment feature allows the vacuum head and beater brush to adjust to different carpet heights. This feature prevents the beater bar from tangling in thick carpets. It can also move the beater brush out of the way for hard floors.
- Large wheels: Large wheels ensure that the vacuum can roll over thick shag carpet without getting stuck. Most medium wheels will do the trick as well. Wheels with a larger diameter than the carpet thickness should roll smoothly.
Our Top Picks
The best vacuum for shag carpet will dislodge dirt, dust, hair, and crumbs from deep within the carpet with ease. They have adjustable settings to clean thick carpets as well as other floorings without causing tangles or damage. The top picks listed below were designed to keep shag carpets fluffy, plush, and pristine.
The Kenmore Elite Ultra Plush Vacuum features a specially designed vacuum head ideal for shag carpets. The Ultra Plush nozzle head has automated inlet vents that respond to carpet thickness. The inlet vents let in a stream of airflow to prevent a suction seal between the vacuum and thick carpets. This feature ensures smooth rolling without the need to turn down the suction power.
For even more flexibility, this corded vacuum has adjustable suction power, making it easy to switch the suction strength for other cleaning tasks. A dusting brush, crevice tool, floor brush, and motorized pet hair remover are included with this vacuum. This bagged canister vacuum also features a HEPA filter system to ensure that dust and allergens are trapped for good.
To clean all floor types, this corded vacuum from Eureka features five height-adjustable settings. With the twist of a dial, this upright vacuum can go from hardwood floors to thick shag carpet with ease.
The vacuum head features a transparent brush roll cover that allows users to see the beater brush while vacuuming. This feature makes for easy maintenance and means you can check that thick carpet fibers don’t get caught in the brush roll. A large 4.1-liter-capacity dirt cup holds plenty of dirt and debris. Once full, the one-button design makes for mess-free emptying.
This vacuum offers an affordable floor-to-ceiling clean: A quick-release vacuum hose offers 8 feet of reach to clean up-high ceilings or under appliances. Accessories include a Pet Turbo mini cleaning brush, two-in-one upholstery tool, and flexible crevice tool.
This upright vacuum from Hoover features five adjustable height settings to deep clean bare floors and shag carpets. To switch from hard to soft flooring, the brush roll has an on and off switch. These adjustable features help to optimize cleaning depending on the floor type.
For cleaner air, the comprehensive bagless filter system includes a HEPA filter and a carbon filter to trap dust, allergens, and odors. One impressive feature of this corded vacuum is its 16-foot reach: The vacuum includes an extra-long hose with an extended reach wand. Accessories include a crevice tool, a Pet Turbo tool, and a dust brush to clean all indoor surfaces.
This canister vacuum from Miele includes two floor heads: a wide bristled head for hard floors and the Electro-Plus head for carpets. The Electro-Plus head has five height adjustments and a motorized beater brush to dislodge dirt from low- to high-pile carpets, including shag. Six variable suction settings offer even more flexibility to adjust to flooring types.
With a HEPA filtration system and bagged dust collector, this vacuum is ideal for allergy sufferers. The contained system keeps dust and allergens trapped while vacuuming and when emptying the canister. To tackle other household chores, this vacuum includes a dust brush, upholstery tool, and crevice tool. The accessories store directly on the hose to always keep them close by.
Some stick vacuums sacrifice adjustable features for a lighter design—this vacuum isn’t one of them. The Hoover ONEPWR Evolve fits a host of features into a cordless design. This small but mighty stick vacuum weighs less than 9 pounds, but it still packs a cleaning punch.
Each battery charge offers extensive cleaning time, with 35 minutes of runtime. A relatively large dust cup holds up to three times more dirt than other cordless vacuums and empties with the push of a button.
To tackle bare floors or thick carpets, this vacuum has three suction settings: multisurface, carpet, or brush off. When switched on, the antimicrobial brush roll dislodges dirt without collecting bacteria or odors.
The long, dense fibers of shag carpets can trap pet fur and dander. This vacuum from Kenmore features four height adjustment levels to clean pet hair from bare floors and shag carpets. This pet-friendly and allergen-friendly vacuum is also certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). It features a bagged, upright design and triple-HEPA filter system to keep fur and allergens trapped.
The Kenmore 31140 also comes with a variety of accessories including a dusting tool, crevice tool, Pet HandiMate, and extension wand that can be used with each tool. The Pet HandiMate tool has a mini beater brush to clean pet hair from furniture, pet beds, and car interiors.
FAQs About Vacuums for Shag Carpet
The best vacuums for shag carpets clean and maintain plush pile without causing any damage. To protect the look and quality of your plush carpet, reach for a vacuum that’s suited for dense carpets. For more information on choosing the right vacuum for your home, consider the following frequently asked questions and answers.
Q. How do I vacuum thick shag carpet?
Vacuuming thick shag carpet can be a difficult task without the right tools. To make things easier, use a vacuum that’s designed to handle thick carpets. Once you’ve found the right machine, adjust the vacuum height and/or suction to the appropriate settings (for example, adjust the head height and beater brush so it will not tangle). Slowly sweep the vacuum across the carpet, ensuring you don’t miss any spots.
Q. How often should I vacuum my shag carpet?
Shag carpet should be vacuumed once per week to remove dust, dirt, hair, and other allergens.
Q. How often should I replace a carpet?
Most modern carpets last from 5 to 15 years, depending on the carpet quality, level of foot traffic, and attention to maintenance. Periodically check the quality of your carpet, noting any threadbare spots, stretching, warping, odors, or stains. These factors will give you clues on when it’s time to replace an old carpet.