Thick carpets look luxurious and feel plush underfoot, but their long fibers can make them tough to clean. The wrong vacuum can catch, twist, or fray long fibers, damaging carpets over time, not to mention the fact that some vacuums can get stuck trying to maneuver through the thick pile.
The best vacuum for thick carpet can tackle the challenges while protecting your investment. Some are specially designed to tackle high-pile carpets, while others include beater bars, variable suction power, and height-adjustable heads to clean carpeted floors. Keep reading for the features to look for in the best vacuum for thick carpets and why the following vacuums are top performers.
- BEST OVERALL: Kenmore Elite 81714 Ultra Plush Canister Vacuum
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: EUREKA PowerSpeed Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner
- UPGRADE PICK: Miele Electro+ Canister Vacuum
- BEST UPRIGHT: Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Upright Vacuum Cleaner
- BEST STICK: Hoover ONEPWR Evolve Upright Vacuum Cleaner
- BEST FOR PETS: BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Turbo Plus Vacuum Cleaner
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Vacuum for Thick Carpet
Vacuum type, suction strength, and maneuverability are key features to keep in mind when shopping for any vacuum. When choosing a model for thick carpet, look for one designed to handle plush pile, or one with either a height-adjustable head or variable suction settings. Adjustable settings can help a vacuum tackle thick carpet and smooth flooring. Evaluate vacuums for the factors and features detailed below, and you’re sure to find the right model for your plush pile.
Vacuums come in a range of types, including upright, canister, stick, handheld, and robot.
- Upright vacuums have a powerful motor, strong suction, and large capacity—features that make them a solid choice for thick carpets. All of their parts are in a single upright unit, which is convenient but can constrain maneuverability somewhat.
- Canister vacuums have the motor and dust container within the canister as well as a separate hose, pole, and vacuum head. The canister can accommodate a powerful motor and large capacity, while the hose and pole provide more reach and flexibility than upright vacuums.
- Stick vacuums are compact, lightweight, and easy to maneuver—and there are cordless models available for even more versatility. However, their smaller size often means a less powerful motor and suction. Stick vacuums also tend to lack adjustment features compared to upright and canister vacuums.
- Handheld vacuums are small and highly portable for cleaning minor messes wherever they occur. They are ideal for clearing crumbs and dirt from tables, furniture, and car interiors, yet while they can clean small messes from thick carpets, they’re too small to vacuum an entire carpeted room.
- Robot vacuums are fully automated devices that require virtually no effort from the user beyond emptying the bin and charging the machine. However, these models are less well suited to thick carpets because they typically have a small dust capacity and small wheels that may have trouble rolling over plush pile.
Corded vs. Cordless
Most vacuums are corded, plugging into an outlet to provide powerful suction. Corded vacuums won’t run out of charge, but they are constrained by the length of their cord. Corded models also tend to have a larger capacity than cordless vacuums. Upright, canister, stick, and handheld vacuums are available in corded options.
Cordless vacuums are designed for portability. Most often in a stick, handheld, or robot style, cordless vacuums are convenient for cleaning all around the house. Their light weight is ideal for flooring, stairs, and even shelving and walls. However, their smaller size means they often have a smaller capacity and may be less powerful. They are also limited by their battery life, which is typically between 15 and 45 minutes on a charge.
Powerful suction is important for deep-cleaning carpets—but too much suction and the vacuum can get stuck in place. This is especially true for thick carpets, where the suction can cause a seal against the dense fibers, becoming difficult to move. Very high suction strength can also damage some carpets and rugs.
A feature to consider in a vacuum for thick carpets is adjustable suction-strength settings. This will allow you to tailor the power for different carpet thicknesses. Simply bump up the suction strength to suck up small particles like sand and dirt or, if the vacuum is having trouble moving, reduce suction strength for easier maneuverability.
Vacuum filters trap particles and prevent them from being released back into the air. A high-quality filtration system makes for a cleaner home, trapping dust and dirt for good. Vacuum filters can be made out of cloth, foam, or specialized filtering materials. Most vacuums include more than one filter, and they can be either washable or disposable.
The most effective vacuum filtration systems include a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. HEPA filters remove up to 99.97 percent of particles measuring as small as 0.3 micrometers. These filters can trap dust, dirt, and very tiny particles. They help trap common allergens like dust mite debris, pollen, pet dander, and even mold and smoke particles.
Vacuums can feature bagged or bagless dust collectors. Bagged vacuums siphon dust and dirt into a bag, which needs changing when full. New vacuum bags are an extra cost to consider with these models. The main benefit of a bagged vacuum is easy disposal; just toss the bag in the trash with no need to touch the gunk trapped inside.
Bagless vacuums have a dust-collecting canister that requires emptying when full—simply snap off the bin and dump the debris in the trash. One downside to bagless vacuums is dust exposure when emptying, which can bother allergy sufferers. Also, should dirt and dust get clumpy and stick to the bin, you’ll need to clean out the mess manually.
Weight and Maneuverability
A too-heavy vacuum is tough to maneuver, especially on thick carpeting. Stick and handheld vacuums, which typically weigh under 10 pounds (some as little as 4 pounds), are easy to maneuver. Upright vacuums weigh between 12 and 18 pounds on average, while canister models typically weigh between 8 and 18 pounds. If choosing an upright or canister model, look for one with larger wheels for greater maneuverability on thick carpets. Small wheels can have trouble rolling across thick carpet fibers.
Additional features can help a vacuum deep-clean thick carpets. Common features include beater bars, height-adjustable heads, variable suction settings, and a range of brush attachments.
- Beater bars: A beater bar is a rotating brush that ruffles carpet fibers to loosen dust and dirt. This feature works well on low- and medium-pile carpets but can tangle some thicker and longer fibers. Some vacuums have specially designed tangle-free beater brushes that are designed for thicker carpets. Others have height-adjustable heads to adjust the bar further from long carpet fibers. Another option is to use a vacuum that allows you to switch off or remove the beater bar.
- Height-adjustable heads: If you choose a vacuum with a beater bar, consider one with a height-adjustable head. These designs allow the vacuum head (which holds the beater bar) to adjust for different carpet heights. This feature can prevent the beater bar from catching or tangling in thick carpets.
- Variable suction settings: Powerful suction is a double-edged sword. While it will help suck up grime, it can also cause a vacuum to get stuck in thick carpeting. An adjustable suction setting is a wise choice for multisurface homes. Use higher suction on hard flooring and low-pile carpets and lower suction on high-pile carpets to avoid getting stuck in place.
- Brush attachments: A variety of brush attachments can help with cleaning jobs around the home. Some popular brush attachments include stiff brushes for banishing pet hair, crevice tools for tight corners, and soft brushes for upholstery and furniture.
Our Top Picks
Regular vacuuming helps dislodge dust, dirt, hair, and dander from thick carpets. Vacuums suited for thick carpets suction grime from dense fibers without damage to the vacuum or carpet. These top picks can help give thick carpets a thorough cleaning without sticking to or harming the lush, plush pile.
Powerful vacuums can seal to the dense surface of thick carpets, making them difficult to move. This canister vacuum boasts signature Kenmore technology—automated inlet vents that break the suction seal between the vacuum and plush pile. Rather than turning down the suction power, the inlet vents provide airflow over the beater brush to avoid a vacuum seal. This allows the vacuum to glide smoothly without getting stuck. The vacuum head also features a height-adjustment feature to choose from among four heights.
This model doesn’t stop at cleaning carpets. Variable suction settings help it move easily over hard floors and delicate rugs. It also includes four handy tools: a dusting brush, a crevice tool, a floor brush, and a motorized pet hair remover. A HEPA filter system keeps dirt trapped in the vacuum bag where it belongs.
With five adjustable height settings, this upright vacuum from EUREKA handles hardwood floors, thick carpets, and everything in between. Adjusting the height is easy with an intuitive dial on the vacuum head. Height settings include a shag rug, high-pile rug, plush carpet, low-medium pile carpet, and hardwood floor setting.
A powerful motor and beater brush work in tandem to get deep into carpet fibers and lift debris. The large bagless dust canister holds 1 liter of dirt. A quick-release handle conveniently detaches the stretch hose, while a crevice tool, dusting brush, and upholstering tool make this model a good choice for a range of other cleaning tasks at a cost-effective price.
This canister vacuum from Miele fits a host of features into a compact design with a range of options for a targeted clean. It boasts adjustable suction settings, two floor heads, and three brush accessories to clean all types of flooring. The six adjustable suction settings can be selected using a rotary dial on the canister. The wide Pure Suction floorhead has a line of soft bristles to capture debris on hard floors, while the Electro Plus floorhead features five adjustable heights and a beater brush to clean low- to high-pile carpets.
For other household chores, this vacuum includes a dusting brush, an upholstery tool, and a crevice tool. The AirClean Sealed System and HEPA AirClean filter ensures that no dust escapes from this powerful unit.
This Hoover vacuum tackles dust, dirt, and allergens in carpets and other soft surfaces. This upright vacuum features five height settings and a beater brush to clean hard floors, low-pile rugs, and deep carpets. To clean even more surfaces, the stretch hose can attach to the included crevice tool, dusting brush, or air-powered hand tool. The hand tool also features a small beater brush to agitate allergens out of plush furniture like fabric couches and pet beds.
The sealed bag HEPA-filtration system is ideal for homes with allergy sufferers. The bag is easy to access from the front of the vacuum, and a one-step bag disposal process reduces exposure to dust and allergens inside.
Lightweight stick vacuums sometimes sacrifice power and features for a lighter weight. At just under 9 pounds, this cordless stick vacuum from Hoover is on the heavier side for stick models—but the extra weight accommodates a range of helpful features. The unit has an adjustable beater brush and three suction settings to optimize suction on carpets and hard floors.
This model is both cordless and bagless for portability and convenience. It’s also designed with pets in mind, with a powerful motor and antimicrobial beater brush to lift pet hair and dust from carpets. The dust canister holds up to three times more dirt than standard stick vacuums, so it won’t fill too quickly during its 35-minute run time.
Shed pet hair can leave carpets looking fuzzy and less than fresh. The upright BISSELL helps banish pet hair and other allergens via a tangle-free brush roll designed to prevent hair from wrapping around the roll. A beater brush picks up both pet hair and human hair from carpets, and for extra-long or delicate carpet fibers, the brush roll can be switched off to prevent catching.
The SmartSeal Allergen System keeps fur and allergens inside. The bagless canister has a hands-free empty feature. At the push of a button, it opens and allows the contents to drop into the garbage. To tackle a host of messes, reach for a crevice tool, dusting brush, and the Pet Turbo Eraser, a handheld tool that features a mini beater brush to lift pet hair from fabric furniture and carpeted stairs.
FAQs About Vacuums for Thick Carpet
Regular vacuuming keeps dust, dirt, and dander at bay. However, vacuuming thick carpets can pose a bit of a challenge, so to maximize cleaning power, reach for a model suited to long, plush pile. If you want further info on choosing and using the right vacuum for your home, consider the answers to these frequently asked questions.
Q. Can I use a standard vacuum cleaner for my thick carpet?
Yes, some standard vacuums will work on thick carpet if they have a beater bar plus a height-adjustable head or adjustable suction. Models with no beater bar or a beater bar that can be switched off will also be safe to use on thick carpet, but cleaning might not be as effective.
Q. Which vacuum has the most powerful suction?
Corded vacuums offer the most powerful suction, with upright and canister vacuums usually offering the highest suction power.
Q. How do you vacuum thick pile carpet?
Use a vacuum designed for thick carpet, or adjust your current vacuum cleaner to the appropriate settings (for example, adjusting the beater brush and suction settings). Slowly and steadily sweep the vacuum across the carpet to pick up dirt and debris. Cleaning pros recommend vacuuming in two directions: north to south and east to west.
Q. How do I maintain my vacuum cleaner to make it last longer?
Make sure to empty the vacuum bag or dirt canister regularly to prevent dust and dirt buildup. When emptying the vacuum, inspect the beater bar, belt (the piece that spins the beater bar), hoses, and other parts, and clean them when necessary. Also, consult the directions on how often to change or wash any filters to prevent clogging.