Shag carpets offer a look and feel unlike any other flooring.
Long-pile carpets also have special cleaning requirements. Those necessities can vary from one kind of shag to the next, and you may find that your current vacuum is not practical or even ineffective.
Our team set out to find the best vacuum for long pile shag carpets with all the bells and whistles turned on. We tested a broad range of upright and canister vacuums ranging from budget-friendly models that cost less than $100 to the very high end.
The result is a strong selection of products. No matter your budget, whether you are a college student or a homeowner, you should find an excellent option that keeps your shag healthy and clean.
Comparison Chart: Best Vacuums for Shag Carpets
The following chart provides an overview of the top eight vacuums for deep carpet cleaning that made our list. This chart is excellent for quick comparison. It should help if you are looking for a certain characteristic, and you can use it to jump ahead if you see a particular vacuum for thick or high pile carpet that catches your eye.
|Best Long Pile Vacuums 2020
|Bagged or Bagless
|Soniclean Soft Carpet Vacuum
|Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet Vacuum
|Shark Navigator Deluxe NV42
|Oreck Magnesium LW1500RS
|Electrolux UltraFlex EL4335A
|Kenmore Elite with Ultra Plush Nozzle
|Hoover T Series UH70120
|Bissell Zing Bagged Canister Vacuum
Without further ado, here are our 8 picks of best vacuums for shag carpets on the market right now. You will find some good variety here not just in price but in feature set as well. Every product on this list delivers excellent suction, and most let you adjust that pressure depending on the rug.
- Developed with the leading global manufacturer of premium carpet. Designed to easily and properly clean all types of soft style carpets with pile lengths less than 1 inch.
- Adjustable vent makes the vacuum easy to use on thick shag carpets.
- Specialized brush roller is soft and often as effective as an upholstery attachment.
- Oversized wheels allow the vacuum to sit on rather than in the carpet.
This upright from Soniclean is our choice as the best vacuum for shag carpet.
The average consumer may see it as a bit on the pricey side, but the investment is well worth it. The build quality is generally fantastic and, perhaps most importantly, it is easy to use.
If you have ever vacuumed a shag carpet with a traditional vacuum, then you know how much of a hassle that can be. A vacuum will tend to get stuck and have to be muscled back and forth.
In order to achieve an ideal vacuum for shag carpet, Soniclean has made some notable changes. The design is extremely lightweight at just 10.5 pounds! The unit also has extra-large wheels that ease movement and essentially prevent the vacuum from sinking into the carpet.
Soniclean has also added a vent to the front of the vacuum head. This patented EZ-Push system makes the vacuum more aerodynamic and mitigates a lot of the resistance you would normally deal with.
The vacuuming action is very good as well. It achieves up to 200 sonic vibrations per second, which does a great job of disrupting those dirt particles that can get down deep in thick shag carpets.
The motor is digitally controlled. It offers a deep cleaning mode for soiled carpets. There is also a quiet mode that works well for regular carpets and even hardwood floors. Soniclean also offers medical-grade HEPA filter bags that eliminate nearly 100 percent of all particulates down to 0.3 microns.
The only real issue with this vacuum seems to be with the adjustable front vent that makes the unit easier to move. Some users online have complained that their unit shipped with a fixed vent. Others complained that the adjustable vent broke easily and had to be jury-rigged or removed.
In our experience, the vent is the important aspect with adjustability being a bit on the gimmick-y side.
- Named a Good Housekeeping Seal Star for 2019.
- Adjust suction as you go with a pair of conveniently placed footswitches.
- Electric power brush with a bar that shortens or extends over five stages.
- Includes a motor protection filter and a pre-bag HEPA AirClean filter.
Miele is among the oldest and most respected names in vacuums. The C3 is an impressive machine and easily our second choice for consumers who require a vacuum for long pile shag carpets.
In fact, if price were not an issue, the Miele C3 would likely be our top choice. But price is an issue, and the average consumer has never considered paying this much for a vacuum.
Is the price worth it? We think so. If you want what is arguably the best vacuum for thick carpet on the market and are willing to make a long-term investment, the Miele C3 will serve you well.
The unit includes two heads. The electro brush head has five height adjustments and works well with standard carpets as well as soft and high pile carpets. You also get a floorhead that swivels 180 degrees. This head is ideal for hardwood and works like an upholstery attachment for particularly plush carpets.
Suction is strong thanks to a vortex motor made by Miele. You increase or decrease the suction via a pair of footswitches, and we found this to be very convenient when vacuuming challenging carpets.
The only knock against the C3 is that the included attachments are rather small and unimpressive. A number of online reviews complained about having to pay additional for attachment replacements.
- Dust cup capacity - 2.6 quarts. Never Loses Suction
- Exceptional suction made even more impressive by the price point.
- Bagless design with a dust cup and a machine-washable filter.
- Brush roller shutoff as well as adjustable suction levels.
In terms of value, the Shark Navigator is the best option for high pile carpets. Consider that this vacuum is often on sale for less than hundred dollars, and it does not cost much more than that even when not on sale.
Our team knew going in that this vacuum had a reputation for strong suction, and it did not disappoint. In fact, the default suction is probably too much for most soft carpets, and you will need to adjust it.
Being able to adjust it from strong suction to mild makes this product a versatile investment. Not only is it great for your shag carpets, but you can use it on the other carpets and rugs throughout your home.
Although not a deal-breaker for most consumers, we would have liked an anti-allergy option, which this unit does not offer. Additionally, pet owners should note that this vacuum has a non-removable roller, and that can be a real hassle as it starts to collect dog hair and you have to clean it.
Note that there is a pet power brush available that alleviates this problem. However, that is going to increase your cost by about $25 or so, so factor that it when comparing this to your other options.
- Slim swivel design: Enables you to turn on a dime and lies virtually flat so you can easily maneuver around and reach under furniture.
- Unique slim design makes the vacuum easy to maneuver.
- It can lay flat to get under beds and fits neatly against baseboards.
- The roller achieves 7,200 revolutions per minute on the high setting.
The unique design of this vacuum is what distinguishes it and puts it on our list of highly rated vacuums for shag rugs. If you only have shag in a wide-open space, it may not matter. But if you are dealing with furniture, baseboards and corners, the maneuverability of this machine is superb.
The suction is very strong at the highest setting. We like that Oreck has integrated what it calls a QuickSwitch right into the handle so that you can easily adjust suction on the fly as you work.
It weighs less than 8 pounds, which puts it among the lightest to make our list.
The Oreck Magnesium is a bit pricey for what you get. At this price point, the Soniclean—our pick for number one—is in our opinion clearly the best vacuum for high pile carpet.
The provided headlamp is ineffective. Those resources could have been better spent elsewhere. We are usually not inclined to complain about larger wheels on a shag vacuum, but in the case, it does prevent the vacuum from getting under couches and even some beds when laid flat, which is unfortunate.
The original product is out of stock, check out this closest alternative:
- SWIVEL STEERING: The sleek low-profile design includes fingertip control settings making it perfect for all flooring types including carpet, hardwood and tile
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- Three-level height adjustment plus an on-off switch for the roller.
- Brush roll is self-cleaning and removes tangles with the touch of a button.
- Adjustable suction makes it easy to clean shag as well as curtains and other delicates.
If you like the idea of the Miele C3 but were turned off by the price, the Electrolux UltraFlex is an intriguing alternative. It shares a similar design but costs about a third of the price.
Electrolux is among the most famous names in vacuums. With the UltraFlex, they have delivered a powerful suction that is adjustable so that you can use it on shag and throughout your home.
The UltraFlex also delivers one of the best self-cleaning rollers in the industry. Self-cleaning marketing can be eye-roll-inducing, but this patented approach actually works quite well in our experience.
We like that Electrolux added a HEPA filter that you can wash out. A bit inconvenient at times, sure, but for the budget-conscious like us, it really is a nice touch. You also get a 5-year limited warranty!
The dust cup is well-designed as well. It is simple to access, empty and replace, and although Electrolux does not market this as anti-allergy, it has a tight seal that limits dust escaping.
However, there are some issues that we want to highlight. The balance is not quite right, which makes this vacuum awkward to use compared to the Miele M3, and while build quality is generally high, some parts, like the switches, feel cheap.
The original product is out of stock, check out this closest alternative:
- Strong suction power: This lightweight, bagged Miele canister vacuum has a combination floorhead that is ideal for cleaning hard floors and low-pile carpet
- BAGGED CANISTER VACUUM: Designed to clean all areas and surfaces of your entire home, den, kitchen, car or garage quickly and efficiently with multiple attachment tools and swivel head
- Bagged canister design not just for shag but hardwood, linoleum and garage floors.
- Proprietary grip system makes vacuuming stairs much easier.
- Telescoping adjustable wand extends to up to 10 feet in length.
Kenmore is not a name that many consumers will associate with vacuums, but this is a segment in which the company has been making strides in recent years. This product is another relative success.
This vacuum has a canister design not unlike the Miele and Electrolux models that made our list, and this product is even cheaper than the Electrolux, which makes it a nice choice for those on a tight budget.
In terms of suction and filtration, this is a phenomenal vacuum for the price. It even has a HEPA filter as well as a motorized handheld pet attachment that makes it very easy to clean dander from upholstery.
The stair grip system may be the best that we tested. It makes it very convenient to vacuum stairs. Of course, that may not be a big selling point if your focus is specifically a high pile shag carpet vacuum.
There are some issues. The vacuum is heavy at 22 pounds. We also found the head difficult to push on thicker shag carpets, which could be a deal-breaker depending on the specific type of shag you have.
- Windtunnel technology: Creates suction to lift and remove surface debris and deeply embedded dirt
- Standard and HEPA filter are permanent and rinse-cleanable.
- Includes an 8-inch stretch hose as well as a range of handy attachments.
- Clever no-scuff bumper protects furniture and baseboards.
Hoover is a classic vacuum brand. The brand has in recent years expanded beyond just the high end to include affordable products that even the college students can afford.
This particular vacuum is one such product. The price is simply phenomenal when you consider the suction, ease of use, build quality, no-scuff guard, permanent filters and so on and so forth.
Bag versus bagless depends on the individual. Some find bagless to be inconvenient, but we find that it makes this economy model a tremendous value because the total cost of ownership is so low.
The design of the vacuum head is balanced and features large wheels. The roller unfortunately does not have an on-off option, so be mindful of that depending on which type of shag you have.
The biggest knock against the Hoover is that it clogs easily, so pet owners be warned. If you have a dog that sheds a lot, look for another product. Most other consumers should be fine.
The indicators are nice but also an annoyance due to how aggressive they are. During testing, the warning lights would often come on to tell us to check something only for us to find nothing wrong.
- Every BISSELL purchase helps save pets. BISSELL proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
- Powerful suction great for most shag but also bare floors.
- Variable suction control lets you dial in the perfect strength for the surface.
- Fast automatic cord storage activated with the touch of a button.
Bissell Zing is the least expensive vacuum to make our list, and while there are some downsides, it really is a fantastic value. This is the best vacuum for shag rug on a budget.
It employs a canister design where the vacuum head and telescoping wand are connected to the base via a hose. You can set the base flat or upright, and since it only weighs about five pounds and has a handle, you can actually carry it around with you, which we found to be a big plus in many scenarios.
Be mindful that this is not a bagless unit. That may be a plus for those who dislike bagless, but remember that it will add up the total cost of ownership over the long-term. A slightly more expensive bagless vacuum like the Shark Navigator will likely be cheaper in the end.
The downsides include the attachment system and the ease at which the vacuum clogs. This is not a vacuum for pet parents who need to deal with a lot of shedding. As for the attachments, they slip on rather than lock in, and that is a deal-breaker for anyone who plans to use the attachments regularly.
Factors to Consider Before Selecting the Best Vacuum for Shag Carpet
In order to make the most appropriate purchase for you and your carpets, you will want to understand what you need and why you need it. In order to help you do that, we have broken the thought process down to 10 individual sections. These considerations should help you get the finest vacuum for shag carpet.
1. Size and Shape
Your two primary options for shag carpet are upright and canister. Consider your environment and how you prefer to vacuum. Canister models tend to be a lot more versatile and are easier to use in crowded and irregular spaces. Upright models tend to be faster to use on shorter rugs and in wide-open spaces, and there are models that lie practically flat in order to get under beds and the like.
2. Bags and Cleaning
There is a trend toward permanent, rinseable filters. Having to clean a filter or even two in some cases can be a hassle. It is easier to discard a bag and install a new one. However, bagless filters are much more cost-effective to own over the long run so be mindful of that if budget is a factor.
3. Brush Functions
Know what kind of brush is suitable for your shag carpet. Note the brush roller on the vacuums you consider. Also look at the various brush attachments as well. We tend to recommend models where the vacuum head will be the most ideal way to vacuum your shag carpet most of the time.
Some shags are better cleaned with an upholstery attachment, but this is not practical in general and certainly not with larger carpets. The right attachments can be useful for spot cleaning, however. Also, if you are a pet parent, then you may want to consider a dander-specific attachment. Motorized pet hair attachments can be a real blessing since they eliminate tangling in the roller.
With perhaps one exception, you will find that most of the shag vacuums on our list are very lightweight. Some are as low as 5 to 6 pounds, which is easy to carry around and even lug upstairs. Consider your environment. A 15 to 20-pound vacuum can be a real inconvenience in many homes.
6. Suction Power
7. Cleaning Mechanism
Many thick carpet vacuums on the market now feature self-cleaning mechanisms. These are gimmicks in some instances but impressive in other cases. The tech has come a long way, such as rollers that automatically detangle themselves. Consider the cleaning requirements overall. Bagless is certainly cheaper long-term, but not all bagless vacuums are the same and some can be a real chore to keep clean.
8. Adjustable Height
If you opt for an upright shag vacuum, you need to get the appropriate height for your carpet. We tend to favor adjustability so that you can dial vacuum height in after the purchase rather than estimating it up front. Also, most people have different carpet throughout their homes, and having the option to adjust height just makes your investment a much more versatile tool.
9. Power Head
Your average vacuum has a motor that generates suction. Others will have a second motor dedicated to spinning the roller brush. This motorized floor head is often referred to as a power head. It can result in a deeper clean at least for thick shag carpets where using a rigorous brushing action is appropriate.
10. Carpet Rake
Many manufacturers of shag carpets recommend using a carpet rake in addition to vacuuming. Raking resets the fibers, which helps with longevity but also enhances look and feel. It also helps loosen dirt, so you should rake and then vacuum. Some vacuums include a rake feature or attachment. However, if your shag needs raking, we tend to recommend a standalone rake since they are relatively inexpensive.
Handy Cleaning Tips for Various Types of Shag Carpets
How you clean your particular carpet type is just as important as the vacuum you choose. You want to keep you carpets looking good and how you should do that depends. Shag carpets vary considerably, and there are big differences, for instance, between flokati and silk. In order to make your job easier, we have compiled some cleaning tips that are specific to various types of shag carpets available.
- Flokati Rugs: You have to be careful with flokati rugs and may not even want to vacuum them at all. Shake your rug outdoors to remove as much dirt as possible. Then, allow the rug to breathe outdoors for several hours. You can wash the rug from time to time in a washing machine with a mild soap and even liquid softener. If you do vacuum, do so sparingly and as a means to eliminate dirt that the other methods cannot.
- Wool Rugs: Wool shag rugs can be vacuumed frequently. You should at least vacuum weekly, and feel free to vacuum more often and as much as daily. Generally, you should run your vacuum at its highest setting, and if your machine has a beater bar, then you should disable or remove it. It is a good idea to flip the rug over each time and vacuum the backside, and you should shake the carpet outdoors occasionally.
- Leather Rugs: You will generally want to use the upholstery attachment to vacuum leather shag rugs. It is also a good idea to rotate your carpet each week so that it wears evenly. If you need to spot clean the rug, you can use warm water and dish soap. Dip a white cotton towel in the solution. Then, use the towel to blot the affected area. Finally, air dry the rug outdoors, but be sure to avoid any direct sunlight.
- Acrylic Rugs: Acrylic rugs do not hold up as well as actual wool but tend to have the same cleaning requirements. Daily intense vacuuming may wear the rug down. Perhaps limit vacuuming to once a week or so. Spot clean as needed, and shake the rug outdoors as often as desired, but do not beat the rug. Do not use a beater bar either. You can air the rug outside for several hours at a time to combat odors.
- Synthetic Rugs: Synthetic rug is among the easiest type of shag carpet to clean. You can vacuum them as often as needed or desired. An upholstery brush or attachment is generally preferred. Your carpet can also be deep cleaned using a steam cleaner. They can be shampooed as well. Spot clean as needed, and you should feel free to shake—and even beat depending on quality—outdoors as well as allow it to breathe from time to time.
- Silk Rugs: You never want to steam clean silk or use any hot water at all. Your silk rug can be vacuumed frequently, and a brushless head is generally recommended. Gentle sweeping is all right as well. Feel free to shake the rug outdoors, but do not beat it. You can air these rugs outdoors for several hours at a time and do not have to worry about sunlight. Use club soda to remove stains and baking powder for odor removal.
For the average consumer, we believe the Soniclean to be the total package, which is why it takes our top spot. It may be a bit pricier than you are used to paying for a vacuum, but the investment is well worth it. This unit will deep clean your shag carpets fast and can last a long time.
If you have a bigger budget and want the best money can buy, you cannot go wrong with the Miele C3. We actually tried other premium models that were more expensive, but none were worth the extra cash. Build quality here is phenomenal, and you can actually see this product getting passed down to family.
The Shark Navigator is the best pure value on our list. Even though it is about twice as much as the Bissell up front, the Shark will already be cheaper by year two with frequent use.
If you are buying your first vacuum for long pile shag carpet, we highly recommend opting for as much versatility as you can afford. Ease of use also makes a big part of your purchasing decision. Shag can be a chore to vacuum with the wrong equipment, and you want to avoid putting yourself in that kind of position in the long run.