Carpets and rugs can do a lovely job at hiding messes. That's why it's often satisfying (and let's face it, a little gross) to hear the crunchy noise of a vacuum suctioning up dirt, dust, and little crumbs tucked into those fibers. But before you can even do that, you have to first find a trusted vacuum that'll keep your carpets and rugs totally clean. Plus, we think a good vacuum should have powerful suction and useful accessories that won't leave any hidden debris behind.
Problem is, there are a lot of vacs out there. To get to the bottom of it, we've purchased over 50 vacuums of all kinds to find the best options for you. We've tested them in The Lab for effectiveness on three types of carpet and hard floors, features, maneuverability, value, and noise level, and at home in real-world situations.
Shark Vertex Ultra Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum
Long battery life
Folds in half for easy storage
Vacuum basically moves itself
Powerful suction on all types of flooring
No provided attachment storage
Dust bin could be larger
Confidently clean your carpeting with our top pick, the Shark Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Cordless Stick Vacuum. In our search for the best vacuum for carpet, this lightweight yet capable model wins points for its effective cleaning, maneuverability, and easy emptying. As part of the Shark Vertex series, this is a cordless vac with enough battery juice to vacuum even high-pile carpet, without experiencing annoying battery fade. In fact, you can use it for up to an hour before it has to be charged, all while enjoying powerful suction and unhindered cleaning.
Speaking of its effectiveness, this vacuum cleaned up materials during testing with no problems. We tasked the Shark vacuum with particles large and small, and it grabbed everything in just a single pass, earning it a perfect rating for effectiveness. The dual PowerFins design ensures that the brush rolls have constant contact with your carpets for the ultimate clean, and says goodbye to any hair wrap. This vacuum will ultimately save you time and energy making repeated passes across the floor, trying to capture that one last bit of debris. In our opinion, the dust bin could be a bit larger, but it was still easy to empty, earning another perfect rating from us.
Some vacuum cleaners have plenty of suction power for carpet fibers, but become difficult to maneuver on high-pile carpeting or rugs. In The Lab, we didn’t experience any of these issues with the Shark IZ462H Vertex Stick Vacuum—in fact, “flawless” is how we'd describe this vacuum’s maneuverability. It glides across all surfaces, and the body of the vacuum features a hinge point that allows it to flex and reach underneath furniture like sofas and coffee tables. This folding feature also saves space when stowing the vacuum in a closet or corner.
This vacuum also filters 99.99 percent of particulates like dust, allergens, dander, and more, so you can breathe comfortably in your home. All in all, we wish that there was onboard storage for the included attachments, and it would be more convenient if the handheld portion of the vacuum wasn’t so heavy. However, these minor complaints have no effect on the value of this Shark vacuum. It's compact and powerful, and it makes an ideal choice as a vacuum for carpet.
Price at time of publish: $430
Dimensions: 46.46 x 9.65 x 10.24 inches | Weight: 9.04 pounds | Cord Length: Cordless | Battery Life: 60 minutes | Bin Volume: 1.4 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 10.63 inches | Bag Type: Bagless
BISSELL CleanView Swivel Pet Rewind Upright Vacuum 2256
Roomy dust cup that's easy to empty
On-vacuum attachment storage
Automatic cord rewind
Dense carpet can require more effort
Does not reach under lower-profile furniture
If you're looking for a vacuum that excels on carpets, the Bissell Cleanview Rewind Upright vacuum is a budget-friendly investment. We've tested multiple versions of this popular vacuum, and let's just say, we have the most confidence in the 2256 model. Why do we like it more than some of it's newer, shinier counterparts? Simply put, it works like a dream. Pet hair, goldfish crackers, and even Legos are no match for this machine (although try to avoid vacuuming up your Legos, if possible!). And thanks to the versatile attachments, which can be stored right on the machine, you can get right up to the baseboards in your home. We also like the swivel head that makes for easy steering, so you can get around corners and furniture and the convenient automatic cord wrap option.
We do want to make sure to highlight that this is a fairly sturdy machine, and it doesn't have the streamlined maneuverability of a lightweight stick vacuum. The design and the size of the canister also mean you're not going to be able to fully push it underneath couches or beds. It's also worth mentioning that we did notice that thicker, denser carpet can require more elbow grease when it comes to pushing this vacuum across it. In our eyes, these are minor inconveniences compared to is fantastic performance, though. Overall, we're big fans of the 2256.
Price at time of publish: $155
Dimensions: 13 x 14 x 46 inches | Weight: 13.65 pounds | Cord Length: 27 feet | Battery Life: N/A | Bin Volume: 1 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 13.5 inches | Bag type: Bagless
Tineco Pure One S11 Tango Smart Stick/Handheld Vacuum
Impressive overall performance
Can transfer surfaces easily
Relatively quiet operation
Hair gets caught in the filter
If you want the convenience of a cordless stick vacuum, but you don’t want to sacrifice suction power, the Tineco Pure One S11 Tango Smart Stick/Handheld Vacuum is an ideal option. It's incredibly lightweight, weighing just under 6 pounds, and a cinch to maneuver. It even felt like the suction adjusted when we tried it on different surfaces.
We also liked how the power felt steady throughout our testing, and that we didn't need to recharge it to complete our tasks (although, charging on the wall-mounted rack is super simple). Plus, unlike some other cordless stick vacuums that require you to hold down a trigger during your entire cleaning session, this Tineco vacuum has a lock so that you give your finger a break and still keep the vacuum running—until it runs out of power, after around 40 minutes of use. The dustbin proved easy to use, too, and short of some hair getting wrapped around the filter we had no issues emptying it. It's worth noting that, as simple as it was, the dustbin does take two hands to empty, so you'll need to set down the vacuum to do it.
Overall, the Tineco Pure One S11 Tango has turned out to be competitive in a number of categories here at The Spruce, so if you're after a reliable and efficient vacuum with some useful and dare we say, fun extra features (like a light that illuminates dust and debris and the ability to convert to a handheld model), it's a great choice.
Price at time of publish: $400
Dimensions: 43.5 x 8.3 x 11.4 inches | Weight: 5.96 pounds | Cord Length: Cordless | Battery Life: 40 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.63 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Bag type: Bagless
Best for Pet Hair
Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra
Tangle-free turbine tool and pet grooming tool included
Roller brush height adjusts to floor type
Vacuum automatically detangles hair from floor roll
Tricky to assemble
Difficult to use while cleaning stairs
While there are many reasons to appreciate the Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra, its thoughtful design—which keeps pet parents in mind—sets it apart from other models. We found its adjustable suction and roller brush height settings convenient, especially when moving from carpet to hard flooring. These height settings were essential for sucking up various debris sizes. It also easily sucked up hair from both high- and low-pile carpet, thanks to detangling technology on the roller brush, we didn't find any wrapped around the brush head.
The vacuum comes with four unique attachments, but the two that will really excite pet owners are the tangle-free turbine tool and the pet grooming tool. You can vacuum stubborn pet hair from your upholstery and pet beds with the turbine tool, and you can try grooming your pet during their shedding season with the grooming tool (that is, if your pet tolerates the noise of a vacuum).
While this vacuum is well-designed and overall impressive, it did have a few quirks. To start, it's heavier than average upright models because of the central ball joint, which creates the vacuum swivel. We could see it being quite tiring on stairs because of its weight, and the long extension hose and tool would probably only aid so much. The assembly process is also quite tricky. Due to the lack of written directions in the manual, we had a hard time deciphering how the vacuum's pieces clicked in place. And on a similar note, while the attachments are fairly intuitive, it would still be helpful for Dyson to explain the intended purpose of each one.
With its weight in mind, we don't recommend this model for users with limited mobility. However, its multi-surface cleaning power, unique attachments, and overall performance make it a great option for a busy household with pets (or kids!) that may produce a variety of messes on your carpets.
Price at time of publish: $500
Dimensions: 42.2 x 11.02 x 15.5 inches | Weight: 17.3 pounds | Cord Length: 35 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: 1.8 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Bag Type: Bagless
Kenmore Pet Friendly Pop-N-Go Bagged Canister Vacuum
All suction settings performed well on carpet
Great for pet hair in particular
On-board attachment storage
Requires additional replacement bag purchases
This Kenmore Pet Friendly Pop-N-Go Bagged Canister Vacuum is the only canister model, to date, that's earned perfect scores across the board in our testing. It was overall impressive during our initial lab assessment, and continued to wow us in a home setting, too. It checks all the boxes you'd expect from a high-performance vacuum, such as strong suction power, maneuverability, and convenient bag access. We were especially pleased with how well it handled pet hair on carpet. We didn't even find any trapped on the brush or wheels.
Another perk we noticed is the 26-foot cord that's automatically retractable. So, not only does it give you plenty of length to handle most rooms, but you also don't have to fuss with winding it when you're done. We appreciated how the attachments can be stored on the vacuum itself, so you never have to go searching for them in the middle of cleaning. The telescoping wand also proved to be another convenient feature (especially if people of different heights share the vacuum in your home!).
Keep in mind that this is a bagged vacuum cleaner, which keeps dust and allergens sealed inside until the bag reaches capacity. You’ll have to buy replacement bags, but this model isn't unique for that. If you're in need of tried and true pick that impressed us in multiple settings, the Kenmore Pet Friendly Pop-N-Go is an excellent choice.
Price at time of publish: $329
Dimensions: 28 x 13.8 x 13 inches | Weight: 23 pounds | Cord Length: 26 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: Not listed | Cleaning Path Width: 14 inches | Bag Type: Bagged
Best Corded Stick
Shark HV301 Rocket Ultra-Light Corded Stick Vacuum
Lightweight and easy to maneuver around corners or under furniture
Powerful suction across different surfaces
Slim design, easy to store
Doesn't stand on its own
In our testing experience, we were pleased with how theShark HV301 Rocket Ultra-Light Corded Stick Vacuum moved handled multiple types of flooring—although it was noticeably more efficient on carpet than it was on hardwood. The Cheerios, popcorn kernels, and hair that we used in our Lab were no match, and it took care of each type of debris in just a few passes. The lightweight design and slim footprint also contribute to its overall maneuverability (and make it easy to store, too).
Now, if you need a vacuum that can stand up to marathon cleaning sessions, the fact that this option is corded can be a plus, because you'll never have to take a break to recharge. One of our testers did report back that the cord eventually became a bit of a nuisance when compared to cordless models, but we're not docking points for that because it's a personal preference (although, it may be worth considering if you're trying to decide between the two types). The other area of note we discovered is that this is a top-heavy machine (potentially due in part to its dust bin), and it doesn't stand up on its own. Depending on your cleaning habits and storage situation, you may not be bothered by that, but we would have preferred to see it stand on its own. Still, no vacuum is perfect, and we were otherwise impressed by this Shark model.
Price at time of publish: $200
Dimensions: 46 x 9.8 x 10.5 inches | Weight: 8.2 pounds | Cord Length: 25 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: 0.31 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 8.5 inches | Bag Type: Bagless
Shark AZ2002 Vertex Powered Lift-Away Upright Vacuum
Variety of modes can handle different surfaces and heights
Self-cleaning brush roll
Lengthy 30-foot cord, plus 5.5-foot hose
Powerful roller means it takes more effort to pull vacuum backwards
The Shark Vertex Powered Lift-Away Upright Vacuum is like multiple vacuums in one. While we heartily recommend it for carpets—we saw it whisk away hair from the medium pile rug before the vacuum head even reached it or rolled over it. And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention how smoothly it transitions to a canister-style or handheld vacuum, too, with attachments suited for stairs, upholstery, and above-floor cleaning. It's a great choice if you want a trusted machine to use on your floors, but the capability to spot-clean other spots around your home, too.
By design, upright vacuums usually heftier than stick vacuum cleaner, and that's also true of this vacuum, which weighs over 16 pounds and feels like a hardy machine. The powerful roller also means that it's easier to push the machine forward than to pull it backward—it almost like it's self-propelled. But because you can adjust components, you have a bit of flexibility in how you use it. That means there are a variety of options available to users. Another thing you should know is that this vacuum has a large dust bin, at one quart. While it's easy to empty, the process does require two hands, so you'll want to plan accordingly.
Price at time of publish: $329
Dimensions: 12 x 15.09 x 46.25 inches | Weight: 16.38 pounds | Cord Length: 30 feet | Bin Volume: 1 quart | Cleaning Path Width: 12 inches | Bag type: Bagless
ECOVACS Deebot N8 Pro+
Expertly handles pet hair
Empties debris into base
May have more features than some households need
Put your cleaning routine on autopilot with the help of the ECOVACS Deebot N8 Pro+. If, like us, you think the sound of automatically cleaned floors sounds a bit like a dream come true, then you might want to sit down for this one. This robot mop and vacuum is the most impressive model we've seen so far. In addition to its impressive performance on multiple types of floors, we were pleased with the simple start-up process, the automatic mapping, and the convenient self-emptying process. Once the dust bag is full, this robot vacuum empties it into the base and continues cleaning. You can even use your phone to scheduled manage its cleaning processes, freeing up your time for other things.
Now, this machine might have more bells and whistles than some homes need, especially if you don't have a need for both a vacuum and a mop. But if you do, you'll likely be as impressed as we were with the machine's ability to handle both functions in one fell swoop (one tester even said, "I hate to be dramatic, but his device has completely transformed my life. ...[it] does a great job of cleaning every inch of my floors."). It's perhaps worth mentioning that this same tester noticed a charging issue that she was able to troubleshoot on her own at home, and given how minor it was, we still won't hesitate to recommend this machine.
Price at time of publish: $700
Dimensions: 13.9 x 13.9 x 3.69 inches | Weight: 1 pound | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 110 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.42L | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Bag Type: Bagless
WORX WX030L 20V Power Share Cordless Cube Vac Compact Vacuum
Quick and strong suction power
Lightweight, easy to carry
Battery charges separately from rest of the vacuum, saving space
Ideal for spot cleaning
Least efficient on high-pile carpet
Needs more give/stretch to the hose
No, we're not suggesting that you use a dustbuster-style vacuum to clean your entire floor; rather, this is a machine to keep on hand for targeted, spot cleaning, and quick messes. Crushed crackers on the living room rug? Dried dirt embedded in your welcome mat? Dust and hair caught at your baseboards? Just grab the Worx Power Share Cordless Cube Vac, aim the hose (with or without your attachment of choice), and within a few seconds, your mess should be handled. When we tested it (among dozens of other car-friendly vacuums, to be specific), it impressed us with its small and simple design, and the fast, strong suction power that allowed it to sail through the different testing tasks. We also appreciated how the battery charges separately from the machine, so you won't have to store the entire thing next to your outlet. Notably, if you own other tools from the Worx Power Share line, the battery is compatible with them, too.
We found that the high pile rug required the most effort for cleaning, but after trying stronger settings and one of the attachments, we were still satisfied with the end result. In an ideal world, there would also be a bit more stretch with the hose, too. Still, we were pleasantly surprised with how nicely this clever and compact vacuum performed. overall.
Price at time of publish: $99
We recommend the Shark Vertex Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum as the best vacuum for carpets. It impressed us with its ability to clear debris from low, medium, and high-pile carpet in a single pass. Plus, it wowed us with its ability to maneuver our living room-inspired obstacle course. For a more budget-friendly choice, the BISSELL CleanView Swivel Pet Rewind Upright Vacuum is a worthwhile pick. This versatile upright vacuum performed well, comes with a roomy dust cup, on-vacuum attachment storage, and automatic cord rewind.
How We Tested the Vacuums for Carpet
We've tested over 50 vacuums side-by-side in The Lab during our multiple vacuum tests, and before and after at home. To start, in The Lab, we unboxed and completed the setup for each one, timing how long the process took and how clear the instructions were. We then evaluated each pick's effectiveness by spilling measured amounts of hair, popcorn kernels, and Cheerios on four types of surfaces: hardwood flooring and low, medium, and high-pile carpets. During this part of our test, we rated each model on its portability and how many passes were needed to clean up the spilled materials. We also noted if hair got tangled in the beater bar.
Then, we challenged the vacuums' maneuverability by navigating them through a living room–inspired obstacle course that consisted of a low-sitting coffee table and couch. We evaluated how well each pick transitioned from smooth floors to the carpeting, before noting the ease of emptying each vacuum, whether it had a bin or a bag. We also collected insights on the noise level of each product and how long cordless models stayed charged. At home, additional product testers rated other models on the same attributes while putting vacuums through their paces in real-world settings. To conclude, we took all of this consistently applied testing data and boiled it down to determine the overall value of the best vacuums for carpeted surfaces in your home.
What to Look for in a Vacuum for Carpet
Vacuum and Bag Type
While all vacuums for carpet are designed to suck up debris, their operation style can vary. Upright vacuums require push-and-pull operation and often boast more suction and larger dust bins. This style is good for whole-home cleaning, but takes up more storage space in your cleaning closet. An alternative is the stick vacuum, which has a more streamlined design and is usually more nimble to use. However, you’ll have to settle for a smaller dust bin. Somewhere in between these two styles is the canister vacuum. This type of vacuum has a motor and dust collection system housed inside of a canister on wheels. A hose connects the vacuum to a wand and floor head, giving you flexibility to reach under, around, and behind furniture.
Bagless vacuums have been increasing in popularity because they don’t require you to purchase new bags and you can easily empty the dust bin after each cleaning session. However, not all dust bins are created equal; some require more "hands-on" help to fully empty. A bagged vacuum cleaner for carpets provides a simpler approach to disposing of dust, dirt, and allergens. While bagged vacuums are an easy way to contain small particles, keep in mind that they aren't a fool-proof answer. "Fine dust particles are tough to remove using vacuums without a HEPA filter," says Nicholas Burks, CEO of Neet Home. When it's full, remove it from the vacuum and toss it in the trash. However, you’ll have to keep replacement bags on hand and be ready to change it whenever the existing bag becomes full.
You'll find that most upright and canister vacuum models come with a power cord, which provides them an unending power supply while you clean your home. A power cord obviously limits the area you can cover from one outlet, but many newer vacuum models are now making cords as long as 35 feet, such as our best for pet hair pick, the Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra. While this is a corded upright model, we appreciated this vacuum's powerful suction as it easily transitioned from cleaning carpet to hard flooring.
If you'd prefer to not be restrained by a power cord, we recommend choosing a cordless model, such as a stick or robot vacuum. These models also have the limitation of a battery life and you may find that some models dull in suction power as the battery drains. However, you should ultimately choose your vacuum's power source based on your personal lifestyle and home size.
Weight and Maneuverability
Just like their power source, vacuums can also be compared by their weight and maneuverability. While upright and canister vacuums are heavier in weight, they are sometimes easier to maneuver on high pile carpet due to their reliable suction power. Canister vacuums are equipped with wheels, which make it easier to drag the canister behind as you clean.
Stick vacuums and robot vacuums may not have as strong of suction power on carpet because of their lighter weights and overall design. However, stick vacuums are much easier to maneuver on stairs, plus tile, vinyl, hardwood, and laminate flooring. Our best lightweight pick, the Tineco Smart Stick Handheld Vacuum, weighs just under 6 pounds, making it a great option for users who live in smaller homes or have limited mobility. Many stick vacuum models are also equipped with swivel joints that make them ideal for cleaning in tight corners and under low pieces of furniture.
A vacuum for carpet can be versatile enough to reach crevices and corners, or to clean other areas of your home, such as carpeted stairs or upholstery. For example, many of the vacuums we tested converted into a handheld mode that is especially useful for above-floor cleaning. You’ll also find a crevice tool is a standard attachment that can extend the reach of your vacuum. In addition, a vac may come with a dusting brush or upholstery tool that are good for furniture cleanup. Pet owners may also find a motorized brush attachment to be helpful in loosening hair from furniture or a pet's bed.
How often should carpet be vacuumed?
As a rule, you should vacuum carpet once per week. Depending on the foot traffic and activity that your carpet sees, you may need to vacuum more frequently. Pet owners in particular may need to clean their carpets more often than others, and as much as three times per week.
Can you use any vacuum on carpet?
Carpets can be magnets for dust and dander, so you might benefit from using a bagged vacuum that more effectively seals off the debris it collects. Burks notes that bagless vacuum cleaners have been known to recirculate allergens in the air, but there are a few advantages of a bagless model: "Because bagless vacuum cleaners don't need to be emptied as often, they are convenient." Bagless vacuums can be effective on carpet as well, and do not require replacement bags that must be purchased separately. Many bagless models on the market—such as cordless stick models—are now equipped with HEPA filters to combat their tendency to recirculate allergens and particles.
What is the first thing you should do before vacuuming a carpet?
If you want to clean your carpet thoroughly, take your time. Remove obstacles and even large debris by hand before getting started. You should also check your vacuum's filters and bag or canister to ensure they are not clogged or too full to complete your cleaning job.
You should also vacuum slowly in neat, slightly overlapping rows. If you rush this process, you're more likely to miss dirt that's deeply embedded into the carpet's fibers. Once you reach the end of the carpet, go over it again in the opposite direction in order to make sure you get every last bit of dust and dirt.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Erica Puisis has been a writer for The Spruce since 2017, specializing as a product researcher for both large and small appliances. For this piece, she compared the features, benefits, and uses of some of the most popular vacuums on the market. She also relied on testing reports from The Lab, along with insights from at-home testers and trends among reviews. For additional insight on how to pick out the best vacuum for carpet, she spoke with Nicholas Burks, CEO of Neet Home.
Marisa Viglione is the senior commerce editor for appliances, cleaning, and organization for The Spruce, and has been in The Lab for our vacuum tests. She has firsthand knowledge of how they were developed and performed, and where each product excelled or fell short. She considered new and improved technology, practicality, and real-life cleaning situations when selecting the vacuums to test. She also considered price, features, and design.
Emma Phelps, an Updates writer for The Spruce, and Dena Ogden, Commerce writer for The Spruce, also updated this roundup to include new picks based on our latest rounds of testing in The Lab.
What Is Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend, and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut. We also pride ourselves on transparency and will always let you know if we received a product for free.