Best Carpet Vacuums

Best Vacuums for Carpet

If your house is like mine, you have different heights of carpet and rugs, plus bare floors, steps and furniture, all of which need vacuuming. The hardest area to keep clean, it seems, is the carpet, particularly with active children and pets on board. The best vacuum for carpets is therefore central to keeping the house clean and free of dust and debris.

Each home’s needs are unique, and our desire for certain features or tools depends on how and what we clean. The types of carpeting, amount of space, and frequency of vacuuming all play roles in our selection process. Styles of vacuums offer different benefits depending on those factors and so much more.

Which style, brand and model of carpet vacuum makes the most sense for you? Read on to learn about Floor Critics‘ recommendations, plus facts and features about carpet vacuuming and things to consider in your decision-making. It’s not just a machine, but an investment, so spend those dollars wisely.

7 Best Carpet Vacuums

Best Overall: Shark APEX Upright with DuoClean

shark apex upright with duoclean
  • Style: Upright
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: A
  • Dust Bin: A
  • Noise: A
  • Accessories: A
  • Empty Weight: 23.6 lbs.

At the desirable intersection of power, flexibility, features and reliability, you’ll find this Shark APEX. It isn’t all things to all people, but it fits most needs for the vast majority, making it the selection of choice for many objective review agencies and consumers alike. The ability to change settings with fingertip controls offer users flexibility depending on their dirt conditions and surfaces.

The brush roll cleans itself of hair you’d otherwise have to remove by hand on other vacuums. Features such as the ability to turn off the brush head to clean bare floors and the extra brush torque for deeper carpets make it a good vac for households with pet hair or tracked in grit. The DuoClean brush head makes it effective on deep pile carpeting and bare floors.

This Shark’s HEPA filters remove allergens and removes odors in the exhaust air. It comes with a Lift-Away that turns the full unit into a handheld mini-vac, great for stairs or hard to reach places. The large dust bin empties with a single touch too.

It’s difficult to find significant trends in complaints other than basic design. Some consumers don’t want a vacuum that is multidirectional and swivels because they find it hard to direct. Random remarks about parts breaking (no consistent trends here either) are also noted.

While the price on this Shark vacuum marks it as the top of their line, its many uses make it well worth the cost. If you have more cleaning needs besides deep carpet or shallow pile, its settings for variable brush height will make moving from surface to surface easy. It’s a great multipurpose cleaning tool that does an excellent job on your carpeting and much more.

Best for Plush Carpet: Miele Complete C3 Marin

miele complete c3 marin
  • Style: Canister
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A-
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: A
  • Dust Bin: B
  • Noise: A-
  • Accessories: A
  • Empty Weight: 32.2 lbs.

The best canister on our list also carries the highest price tag, but considering Miele offers reliability and should last for a couple of decades, you might not worry about that. If you buy the Performance Pack, you have a tool or attachment to fit any vacuuming need, including those you haven’t thought a canister could cover. The high air-watt motor is said to suck crushed pile back into shape and remove any pet hair and dander from even the thickest carpets.

Other features that make this investment attractive are the multiple brush heads, including one designed specifically to deep clean plush or thick carpets. If the automatic sensor height adjustments aren’t enough adjustment for you, a tap on the foot control will do the rest. HEPA filters keep the microparticles inside the canister and leaves clean air behind.

Consumers note that this unit has a small bag size. Replacement bags and replacement HEPA filters are comparatively expensive and need to be changed often. There appears to be a design flaw in a 90-degree angle in the hose connection, making clogs a potential issue.

Overall, the steel construction and over-engineering of components in this vacuum give you a hint about how long it will last. Allergy sufferers report an improvement in their health when this Miele is used regularly. Consumers report the suction surpasses anything else they’ve used while remaining easy to handle.

Best for Allergens: Kenmore 31150 Pet & Allergy Friendly

kenmore 31150 pet allergy friendly
  • Style: Upright
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: A
  • Dust Bin: A
  • Noise: A-
  • Accessories: A-
  • Empty Weight: 20.0 lbs.

If severe allergies are an issue in your household, this Kenmore bagged vacuum will suck the dust away with every use. It begins with the triple HEPA filter system removing 99.97% of pet dander, pollen, and other particles from your carpeting. Certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), this process will release fresh air as it works.

The other feature helping you breathe easier is the cloth bag for a dust bin. You never need to touch the debris when removing and disposing of the bag, and replacement of it is easy to do. Proprietary brand bags and filters are available as multipacks at a reasonable cost.

Suction is intense on this machine, picking up debris on carpets previously vacuumed with other brands’ models. The vacuum senses when dirt stays in the rug with an LED light alerting you to an area that needs another pass. Five brush head height adjustments accommodate the scope of everyone’s cleaning needs.

Chief complaints about this vacuum seem to center on the wand and other attachments. Consumers also comment that the suction seems too much to move the machine at times. Others note the amount of fresh air exhaust from the back is too strong, stirring up dust in areas yet to clean.

If keeping allergens to a minimum is your concern, though, the suction and fresh air can be positives. Kenmore appears to stand behind the occasional lemon that doesn’t work out of the box. The strengths of this machine outweigh that risk, though, with a significant following of happy users who feel healthier for the job it does.

Best for Small Areas: Dyson Cyclone V-10 Animal Lightweight

dyson cyclone v 10 animal lightweight
  • Style: Stick
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: B+
  • Dust Bin: A-
  • Noise: A-
  • Accessories: A
  • Empty Weight: 5.86 lbs.

Suction is king, and this Dyson stick model is reported to have the highest suction rating of any cordless stick unit. It runs for 60 minutes in its regular cleaning mode, and 20 minutes when set at high power required by some of its tool attachments. Full charge time is three and a half hours.

Two things set this stick apart – its effectiveness in homes with pets, and its filtration system that picks up microparticles. While the dust bin isn’t huge, it’s more than up to the task of picking up standard cleaning debris during a cycle. Emptying it over your trash can is easy with a single lever press.

While this stick has a great filtration system, it isn’t designed to keep odors away. Filters are washable, and if you’re willing to do this often, you avoid the harsh smells some pet parents report. Some also note the dust bin does not empty as easily as stated, depending on what kind of debris is inside.

Remember that any cordless power use drains a battery. Running it for a while on a high suction setting means you have less low power setting left too. However, if you want a stick to use in between your deeper cleaning, for low pile area rugs, or as a handheld, this Dyson vacuum should be a serious contender.

Best for Quick Messes: Shark Rocket Corded Ultralight Handheld

shark rocket corded ultralight handheld
  • Style: Handheld
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: B+
  • Dust Bin: B
  • Noise: A-
  • Accessories: A-
  • Empty Weight: 3.7 lbs.

Don’t confuse this model with the Shark stick vacuum of a very similar name. The fact that this is a corded unit gives the Shark more motor power to pick up pet hair and pieces of whatever on the floor while offering you flexibility since that cord is 15 feet long.

While a handheld will probably not be your primary vacuum for carpeting, it fills a specific need for quick cleanups and areas like on stairs, under furniture and in hard to reach corners.

The Rocket doesn’t have a long list of tools, but it has what you need to take care of crevices against walls and cushions on the sofa, plus removing pet hair from the upholstery and cereal from the carpet. The noise it makes is minor when compared to full size vacuums. Best of all, its weight won’t exhaust you, even if you’re using it to clean the minivan.

Users mention wishing for more tools, since the unit itself seems to have the power they’re looking for. A few complaints of broken dust bin hinges have been noted. Some people would like a longer power cord, and others would like to remove it for winding when not in use.

All in all, this Shark Rocket can be a great companion to your regular full-sized vacuum or for those with small area rugs and vacuum storage constraints. It accomplishes the same job as many lift-away components on upright vacuum systems. If you don’t have that flexibility, this model will fill that gap.

Best for the Busy: Samsung POWERbot Turbo 9350

samsung powerbot turbo 9350
  • Style: Robot
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: A-
  • Dust Bin: B-
  • Noise: A
  • Accessories: F
  • Empty Weight: 10.8 lbs.

Schedule it and forget it or give it on-demand commands through your smartphone or via voice-activated Amazon Alexa. The Samsung POWERbot Turbo claims to have 70 times more suction power than a standard robot vacuum (hard to verify or measure). It rates highly on carpet, bare floors, and the transition between the two.

The wider than average brush head includes a special roller cleaner that removes pet and human hair which would otherwise stay wound around the brush. The computerized visual mapping system plans its route to maximize the cleaning pattern around the room, stopping or avoiding problems when its sensor knows it reaches a barrier. When it comes to the wall, a rubber tool deploys to take care of crevices and corners other robots wouldn’t reach.

Users like the ability to set the machine to clean a room or the full floor of the house. To clean other rooms or floors, you would need to physically move the machine and/or give it a new command. Its effectiveness with pet hair on thick carpeting is mentioned as a big plus.

There have been complaints about parts wearing out more quickly than expected and programming issues with software without good experiences getting repairs or fixes from Samsung during the warranty period. Frequent reports note that the robot gets trapped between the legs of dining room chairs. The battery lasts about 30 minutes on normal use before it needs to return to base for a charge, which some users regard as inadequate.

If you’re willing to pick up dog or child toys and keep the area the robot needs to clean generally open and free of obstacles, it can do a job that rivals popular uprights. Understand that you’ll be cleaning the dust bin after each carpet sweep or at least daily after multiple passes. It may not be the primary vacuum for your application, but it can meet your needs for vacuuming in between your periodic deep cleanings.

Best for the Budget: Bissell Cleanview Swivel Rewind

bissell cleanview swivel rewind
  • Style: Upright
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A-
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: B+
  • Dust Bin: A-
  • Noise: B+
  • Accessories: B
  • Empty Weight: 19.3 lbs.

For those of us on a tight budget but with wall-to-wall carpeting to clean, the Bissell covers your basics and then some, but sacrifices some features. It has a built-in hose with a cleaning tool for stairs or furniture. Suction is very good and will do well on medium pile or sculpted carpets in households that don’t produce a lot of pet hair or major debris.

Bissell calls its dust bin a dirt tank, which is large and empties with the press of a lever. The triple brush head is said to be designed so that one pass over most carpets is all you’ll need to get them clean, and loose debris will not scatter if not sucked up. The 27-foot power cord rewinds at the touch of a button.

This might not be the best system for high-allergy households because it lacks a HEPA filter. The brush head height adjustment is manual, which can slow you down when you’re working over different pile depths. Some consumers note the suction is not as great as other upright models they’ve owned.

If you don’t need a lot of features, this Bissell should keep you satisfied for the next few years. Keep in mind that it isn’t the best choice for those of us with heavy shedding pets or carpets that hold on to every bit of dust. It’s a great option, though, for those looking for a budget vacuum under $100 or $200.

Back to Top

The Complete Carpet Vacuums Buyer’s Guide

Styles of Carpet Vacuums

How a vacuum works is no mystery to most of us – there’s suction to pick up the dirt and a place to deposit it. Past these rudimentary features, though, we face choices about the what’s and the how’s of how effectively this is done. Styles range from cordless vac handhelds to super-suction canisters and a range of options in between.

In this section we’re going to talk about features and why you should take inventory of your needs before you fall in love with the next vacuum you see in the big box or warehouse store. Make the right decision and you’ll have a cleaning partner for a decade. The wrong one will leave you frustrated.

Canisters

This category encompasses those systems that separate the canister or dust bin from the hose and head. As you vacuum, the canister follows you in a separate unit, which means you aren’t moving a heavy motor with each pass across your carpet.

Carpet Vacuum Best For Ergonomics/Ease of Use Cleaning Effectiveness
Miele Complete C3 Marin Best for Plush Carpet A- A

Over the years, these vacuums were often sold door to door for a substantial price tag, and people liked their special features, like air that bubbled through water reservoirs to eliminate odors and well-sized replaceable bags to capture the dirt. As they became a common household tool, most major manufacturers jumped on board with models cloned to market suction power and offer an array of attachments for non-carpet uses.

While making cleaning easy is a huge benefit, these systems are often loud. Moving the dust bin and mechanical unit behind you isn’t always convenient, and when it comes to changing floors in a house, you’re lugging a suitcase along with the hose and head. Still popular, though, these canisters come in both bag and bagless models today with an astounding number of attachments for upholstery and other uses.

Uprights

As the name suggests, these vacuums have the motor, dust bin and head all in one upright piece. The handle connects the pieces, and since they’re together, you’re moving the mass with each pass over your carpet. They come in models with wheels that roll straight forward and back and with multidirectional swivels too.

Carpet Vacuum Best For Ergonomics/Ease of Use Cleaning Effectiveness
Shark APEX Upright with DuoClean Best Overall A A
Kenmore 31150 Pet & Allergy Friendly Best for Allergens A A
Bissell Cleanview Swivel Rewind Best for the Budget A- B+

Dust bins have transformed as well, with many of these units now offering bagless canisters you empty as needed. Some have air fresheners, most have extra hoses for attachments, and a few offer lift-off handheld mini-vacs too. Bottom line – you still move the whole unit, making ergonomics particularly important in this category.

The negatives for uprights come down to a subset of features, like if the cord retracts or needs to be wound by hand. Users typically question how hard it is to change the bag or empty the bagless canister, and where settings and controls are located. Still, this is what most consider the workhorse style of vacuum that will endure until something much better comes along.

Sticks

A cordless stick vacuum might replace those uprights, as it’s growing in both features and popularity. First, it’s cordless, which means you aren’t limited to a distance from power or dragging around a canister. Plug the vacuum into a charging station when you’re done, and it will be ready for your next round of cleaning, often at multiple suction settings like regular and high.

Carpet Vacuum Best For Ergonomics/Ease of Use Cleaning Effectiveness
Dyson Cyclone V-10 Animal Lightweight Best for Small Areas A B+

Just as important, stick vacuums are lighter and easier to use for those challenging places, like stairs and tight corners, and for light uses like low pile rugs or small areas, they are hard to beat. They typically come as bagless canisters with a dust bin you open over your trash can to empty. Multipurpose uses are easy to accommodate as the stick itself disconnects to shorten the unit or add on attachments.

The chief complaint for stick units has been the length of time you can vacuum before your battery loses power, 40 to 60 minutes on regular and 20 or less on high. Suction isn’t what you’ll find on a corded unit, which means it isn’t the best choice for deep pile carpets. Advancements in these units seem to arrive daily, though, which means the newest offerings run longer and have even more power in their battery life.

Robots

If vacuuming isn’t your favorite chore or ranks below getting a root canal without the benefit of a pain killer, a robot vacuum has your carpet covered. These systems are programmed to run in designated areas around your floor to pick up whatever it finds. If it bumps into something it senses it can’t or shouldn’t clean, it changes direction.

Carpet Vacuum Best For Ergonomics/Ease of Use Cleaning Effectiveness
Samsung POWERbot Turbo 9350 Best for the Busy A A-

What’s great about these units is they take care of the carpet vacuuming chore for you at a time you designate, like while you’re at work. The dust bin is inside the unit, and some empty into larger receptacles at the home station. The robotic part runs on batteries that recharge when it goes ‘home’.

Two factors come into play for negatives on robots, and that’s deep pile (think shag or heavy texture) and amount of suction. They don’t handle the first well (along with any significant change in elevation) and they lack enough of the second to perform a deep cleaning. These units have no attachments or accessories to allow you to vacuum carpeted stairs or clean furniture.

Handhelds

Handheld units are uniquely matched to some applications like long carpeted staircases. While they won’t necessarily do the trick if you have a lot of area to cover, for small rugs or the occasional dry spill on a large one, they make cleanup quick and easy. Some have awesome suction to get deep pile clean too.

Carpet Vacuum Best For Ergonomics/Ease of Use Cleaning Effectiveness
Shark APEX Upright with DuoClean (Lift-Off) Best Overall A A
Dyson Cyclone V-10 Animal Lightweight (wand converted) Best for Small Areas A B+
Shark Rocket Corded Ultralight Handheld Best for Quick Messes A B+

These vacuums are also good for apartments and condos with very limited storage space and only area rugs and bare floors because their suction is not as intense as the larger models. Yes, cleaning anything larger than a small carpet will be tedious, but if you live in a shoebox, you won’t be worrying about large floors. Many of these units also come with a full array of attachments to make them an all-around answer to your cleaning needs.

Complaints about handhelds usually mention the lack of power, which makes sense given their relative motor size. Since big cleaning jobs aren’t their purpose, figure you’ll use them for carpet in hard to clean places or as a vac for your car or SUV. They have a place in homes, sometimes alongside larger siblings and sometimes as the sole unit in tight spaces.

Back to Top

FAQs about Carpet Vacuums

Let’s circle back to asking those all-important questions about your needs so you can make an informed carpet vacuum selection. What do you need to make your vacuuming as pain-free as possible? Take a look at the things people commonly ask.

Carpet Vacuum Ergonomics/Ease of Use Cleaning effectiveness Dust Bin Noise Accessories Weight
Shark APEX Upright with DuoClean A A A A A 23.6 lbs.
Miele Complete C3 Marin A- A B A- A 32.2 lbs.
Kenmore 31150 Pet & Allergy Friendly A A A A- A- 20.0 lbs.
Dyson Cyclone V-10 Animal Lightweight A B+ A- A- A 5.86 lbs.
Shark Rocket Corded Ultralight Handheld A B+ B A- A- 3.7 lbs.
Samsung POWERbot Turbo 9350 A A- B- A F 10.8 bs.
Bissell Cleanview Swivel Rewind A- B+ A- B+ B 19.3 lbs.

What kind of carpet will I be cleaning?

Name your favorite – textured or sculpted, deep shag, low pile, wall to wall, or area rugs. Each type of carpet brings its own specific needs. For wall to wall, you want deep suction to bring up as much of the debris as possible so that over time, traffic won’t grind it down into the pad, backing and underlayment where it can’t be cleaned with a household vacuum.

If you put that same suction on an area rug, though, you’ll be sucking it into the brush head and the machine will whine and stop working. Shag can get caught in some brush heads, while other kinds won’t beat the dirt out of low pile. For textured carpets, you want a vacuum that’s easy to roll over the unevenness while still adjusting the brush head to the varying depths of pile.

There are no wrong answers here, only choices. If you are building or remodeling and haven’t made your carpet selection yet, hold off on the vacuum decision until you do. If you have different kinds of carpeting, you might need more than one kind of vacuum.

What kinds of dirt are tracked into my carpeting?

Dirt is dirt, or so you might want to think, but what you’re planning to suck out of your carpeting is as important as the carpeting itself. A house that accumulates a lot of sand or grit has a heavier-duty need than a city apartment where more casual dust or pet hair is a concern. Larger pieces such as tracked-in leaves or wayward cereal are best sucked up with a head that can adjust for them.

How often will I be vacuuming this space?

Be honest now. How many of us really vacuum on a regular schedule, and how many of us wait for the inevitable dust bunnies to turn into an army? The more frequently you clean the carpeting, the less dirt there will be to vacuum at each pass.

Most of us have the best of intentions and want to keep our homes tidy with a regular plan, but life interferes. If you’re waiting until you just can’t stand it anymore or don’t think you can get to it often, you want more suction and power to pull everything out of the pile at once. If you do vacuum frequently, features such as ergonomics and ease of use will become more important to save your shoulders and back.

How large an area will I be cleaning?

The amount of carpeting you’ll be vacuuming (along with the kinds of dirt and how often you vacuum) come into play when you think about the size and type of dust bin and the power source. Cordless units have a finite cleaning cycle equating to level of cleaning suction you set on the vacuum and the charge in the battery. Ease of rolling that brush head around becomes exponentially more important if you have a large house with wall to wall and you’ll be vacuuming a lot.

Think not only about the amount of square footage, but how many times you’re likely to go over the same space in each cleaning. A long-haired dog or cat that sheds prodigiously (to the point where you swear you could create another critter out of the fuzz) can mean multiple passes. Some pile acts like a magnet and holds on to hair like it’s glued in place.

Another space consideration is where the carpet is, such as behind furniture (you need attachments or a wand with a head), on stairs (extra-long hose with good brushes or a lift off mini-vac unit), or on different floors of the house (light weight and easy to carry). Think about how often you’ll need to empty the bag or dust bin and its size relative to what you suck up. It’s a good idea to time how long it takes to vacuum the space you clean to understand if a cordless can work for you.

What other surfaces will I need this vacuum to clean?

Most of us like our tools to be multipurpose so we aren’t putting down one thing and picking up another as we move through our cleaning. Some carpet vacuums also work well as hardwood vacuums (or for other bare floors), while others have only one type of suction and brush setting that wouldn’t function well on debris laden wood, vinyl or tile. If you want to vacuum furniture upholstery or capture the cobwebs in ceiling corners, think about attachments and accessories, too.

Is the removal of allergens or odors a real concern?

Not all vacuums are created equal when it comes to the removal of microparticles. Things like pet dander or outdoor allergens might be sucked up but without a filtering system, they return to your home via the air expelled from the vacuuming process. If you have pets on the carpets or lots of sports gear lying around, you might also have strong smells to contend with.

Many vacuums today come with HEPA-rated filters, which means they should clean the air down to the microparticle level. Some include branded air fresheners too. These filters may be washable or replaceable.

How much storage space do I have for the vacuum?

Vacuums need a home in your home. If you live in a city apartment and space is tight, a stick can be the best choice for you. Remember that it’s not just the vacuum itself that you should consider, but any extra hoses, wands or attachments and accessories that come with it.

The best vacuum will be one you can easily access to use, because that removes one excuse to getting the vacuuming done and encourages you to use it. Carrying something up a lot of stairs from a basement with no carpet to the living or bedroom level with wall-to-wall carpet isn’t all that encouraging. Find a place to store your model as close to where you use it as possible.

Back to Top

Our Selection Criteria for Carpet Vacuums

Not all carpeting needs the same kind of cleaning and not all vacuums fit all situations best. For this reason, rather than rank our options from best to worst, we’re noting what a particular model is best for and giving each a letter grade for the selection criteria listed below.

Style

We discussed the styles of vacuums earlier in this article. If you favor one type over another or have a specific need for one kind, you’ll want to note what we list for this criterion. There is no grade specified since one kind is not universally best.

Ergonomics/Ease of Use

Moving a vacuum easily means you stand a better chance of using it and keeping your home cleaner as a result. The highest grades here indicate a vacuum you don’t have to struggle to use in normal conditions. Carrying weight is listed separately.

Cleaning Effectiveness

Unfortunately, there’s no universally listed reading for the amount of suction, and even if there was, that same suction on a system with a less than adequate brush head won’t be as thorough. For this reason, we lump suction and brush head together under cleaning effectiveness. Refer to the notes under each listed best-of to understand why it receives the grade that it does.

Dust Bin

Bagged or bagless, canister or other, it depends on what you need. We list the type along with the grade, and that grade relates to how easy it is to empty or replace it. Location plays a role too, since some are lift-away for under-furniture cleaning.

If you select a bagless dust bin, know that there is no easy way to avoid getting a slight misting of fine dust when you empty it. If you have pets, there will be a slight pet-dander odor, too. Empty this in a laundry room or outside your primary living space to keep your nose happier.

Noise

Big suction can equal big noise because a big motor is required. Some powerful models include special noise-dampening components to combat this. If sleeping babies or sensitive pets (or adult humans) are an issue, look for machines with high grades since that means noise is reasonable or under control.

Accessories

Overall, attachments and accessories can do a lot to help you clean more thoroughly and with greater ease. Not all vacuums come with myriad solutions, though. The higher the grade here, the more bells and whistles you have to work with.

Weight

Weight is expressed as the overall empty weight of the complete vacuuming unit. If you are considering a canister, this includes the part you have in your hand when cleaning and the part you drag behind. For robots, it is the robot itself.

Back to Top

Lindsay Lenser

About Lindsay Lenser

Lindsay is a freelance writer with an affinity for fireplace selling. She enjoys free time spent with family, friends, plants, pets and the frequent home renovation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *