Best Shag Carpet Vacuums

Best Shag Carpet Vacuums

Shag carpet has come a long way from the tendrils of dreadlocks of decades ago. Today, deep piles feel soft and rich without the tendency to knot or tangle. To care for them properly, you need a vacuum with special settings to maintain your shag investment.

The best vacuums for shag carpets come in all styles and price points to meet your flexible needs. It depends on your preference for ease of use, need to protect against allergies, and desire to control noise. If you have other types of floor covering or limited storage space, you’ll want a vacuum that’s more multipurpose or smaller in size.

To pick the best vacuum for shag carpets in your home, consider how often you’ll be using it and how durable you want it to be. Cleaning after shedding pets or sucking up dried crumbling leaves determine how much power you need. Here’s our take on the best vacuums for shag carpets based on different living situations and household requirements.

7 Best Shag Carpet Vacuums

Best Overall: Sonicare Soft Carpet

sonicare soft carpet
  • Style: Upright
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: A
  • HEPA filter: Yes
  • Noise: B+
  • Weight: 10.5 lbs.

This Sonicare vacuum is recommended by many as the best in shag carpet cleaning, and with good reason. Its big wheels make it easy to move on deep, soft pile, and users note it is easy to push across all surfaces. Its HEPA filter feeds debris into a bag you remove and toss, and the 35-foot power cord and range of accessories fit a wide variety of cleaning needs.

Adjustable vents on the front of the brush roller are a unique feature to control how much suction is working on the rug. It can be set high for tall shag and lower for textured Berber, helping with maneuverability. Soft bristle brush heads won’t damage carpet fibers and in deep pile, an activated sonic bar pulses against the shag and releases even more dirt.

Reviewers note that the ability to adjust the motor strength to make this quieter for hardwoods and other solid floors is a big plus. However, as with all machines with big motors, it will create some noise at the higher setting.

For those of you with wall-to-wall shag and/or large spaces to clean, you’ll find this Sonicare fits well under furniture and into corners, making it a good all-around choice for shag carpet and other vacuuming needs.

Best for Allergen Removal: Miele Turbo Team

miele turbo team
  • Style: Canister
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: A
  • HEPA filter: Yes
  • Noise: B
  • Weight: 14.8 lbs.

This Miele Turbo is reported to work for vacuuming all carpet heights. A rotary dial on the canister unit allows you to adjust the amount of suction in the brush head to accommodate different carpet and flooring types. Air flow in the brush head can also be adjusted for high carpet heights with a foot lever on the head.

This Miele vacuum has a HEPA filter and self-sealing debris bag to ensure the air coming out of the machine is cleaner than the environment it’s in. A power cord almost 30 feet long coupled with the standard length hose plus wand give you plenty of range in distance when cleaning carpet floors. Ergonomically it is easy to move and reach under furniture, even low sofas.

Users note the brush head can emit a high pitched whine at an annoying noise level when in use, but otherwise, the machine seems to be quieter than expected.

The hard edges can scar paint and baseboards. If your shags are of varying heights and you need a machine to clean the solid surfaces too, this canister can make your vacuuming life a whole lot easier.

Best for Pet Hair: Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away True Pet NV752

shark rotator powered lift away true pet nv752
  • Style: Upright
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: A
  • HEPA filter: Yes
  • Noise: A-
  • Weight: 16.4 lbs.

While we listed this as the best vacuum for households with shag carpet plus pets, this Shark offers much more in versatility. The Lift-Away system allows you to turn this into a handheld vac for stairs or for the upright wand to reach under furniture. The swivel base makes it easy to turn and direct, even in thick piles.

If your floors include both shags and solid surfaces, you can adjust the height and suction for both with the flick of a finger. The dust cup holds 3.3 quarts of debris between emptying. Air filters are washable to minimize ongoing expenses.

Users say this machine is quiet to run, a first on our list. It picks up dirt left behind by other vacuums. Reviewers note it is powerful and if you aren’t careful, it can suck in fibers from taller pile rugs. But overall, for vacuuming pet hair from shags and more, it’s a great cleaning tool.

Best for Hands Off: iRobot Roomba i7+

irobot roomba i7+
  • Style: Robotic
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: B
  • HEPA filter: No
  • Noise: A
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs.

A robot vacuum is a great tool to keep your shag carpets from becoming too dirty in between deep cleanings. This Roomba transitions easily between varying floor surfaces including shag carpeting. While the air filtering system is not HEPA rated, it is stated to remove 99.9% of allergens as it runs.

When its battery needs a recharge or its dust bin is full, it will return to its home base, charge, and empty into the base dirt bag automatically. You can control the mapping of where it cleans and how often, which means you can run it over the shag where it’s needed more often than other surfaces that don’t accumulate debris as quickly. It has high performance suction to get whatever is deep in your shag fibers.

Users like the dirt detection feature with the machine sensing the areas that need extra cleaning, though some say it does not work as well as expected.

Replacement dirt bags for the home base can become expensive depending on how much debris collects. If you like the cleaning to be done while you’re away from home, though, this Wi-Fi programmable iRobot can make your life much easier.

Best Multi-Surface: Kenmore 22614 Pet Friendly Canister

kenmore 22614 pet friendly canister
  • Style: Canister
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A-
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: A-
  • HEPA filter: Yes
  • Noise: C
  • Weight: 26.0 lbs.

Some vacuums like this Kenmore are designed with varying surfaces in mind. It is bagless, eliminating ongoing costs, with the first filter being washable and the HEPA. The brush head is 14 inches wide, which means fewer passes to get your cleaning done.

Deep cleaning comes courtesy of dual motors for extra suction power. A powerful centrifuge provides the force needed to suck the deepest dirt out of the deepest pile. Not all vacuums come with a retractable power cord, but all 24 feet can be hidden here with the touch of a lever.

The biggest complaint about this vacuum is the loud noise it creates, something users describe as a scream. While the overall system is heavy, the head you move around is light and easy. It works equally well on solid surfaces, pet-laden rugs, and shag that’s accumulated so much that other vacs couldn’t get to.

Best for Quick Pick-ups: Dyson V11 Torque Drive

dyson v11 torque drive
  • Style: Cordless
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A-
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: B+
  • HEPA filter: No
  • Noise: B
  • Weight: 6.7 lbs.

While cordless vacuums aren’t ideal for cleaning thick shags with long fibers, they do have a place with textured Berbers and other sturdier taller piled shags. This Dyson generates intense suction to lift away dirt hiding in deeper rugs while its light weight makes it easy to lift and move. Cleaning effectiveness on thick shags isn’t what you’ll see with other corded machines.

Cordless has a place, though, like in households where you only have a shag throw rug and no other thick pile surfaces. This machine works well on solids and other kinds of carpet too. Care will need to be taken on deep shags.

Users like the ease of use for a cordless, unbound to any single working area and light to use. However, their cleaning time is limited by how much suction you apply (two options) and which head or accessories you are using. The maximum is 60 minutes before recharging, but that would be adequate for a quick pickup on your shallower shag and beyond.

Best Budget Option: Eureka NEU182A PowerSpeed

eureka neu182a powerspeed
  • Style: Upright
  • Ergonomics/Ease of Use: A-
  • Cleaning Effectiveness: A-
  • HEPA filter: No
  • Noise: B
  • Weight: 10.0 lbs.

To be the best budget model and still make the list, the machine must shine in almost all aspects of vacuuming for shags. This Eureka fits that description, with five height adjustments to transition from your shag rug to hardwoods. It is a lightweight vac and easy to maneuver, scoring highly with users for cleaning effectiveness, ergonomic design and accessories.

It has no bags to worry about, opting instead for an extra-large one gallon dust cup you can remove and empty with the touch of a lever. The 25-foot power cord and seven foot (when extended) hose give you plenty of reach into corners without fuss. The cleaning path is over a foot wide, avoiding repeated passes that smaller machines would require.

The chief complaint reviewers have about this vacuum is its high noise when running. Others express concerns about the build feeling like cheap plastic, though the machines appear to be durable with regular use. The effectiveness of this machine at a reasonable price tag can’t be beat.

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The Complete Shag Carpet Vacuums Buyer’s Guide

What You Need to Know About Vacuuming Shag Carpeting

Just as not all vacuums are created equally, different types of shag carpeting require varying attention to features. Universals across all types is the need to dig out dirt deep in the pile. That means your machine must tolerate and work with depth, thickness, and problems that might not be the same, even from room to room in your house.

Here are things you need to consider when deciding on the best vacuum system for you. We begin with the areas where people are tempted to take shortcuts and find they’re dissatisfied with the results. Digging out deep dirt takes power and flexibility.

Vacuum Type

Canister vacuums, where the bag or bagless dirt repository resides in the base of the unit and tethers by a hose and wand to the brush head, are generally believed to provide the best suction. However, uprights have increased their power too, and now it’s hard to tell the difference in side-by-side tests.

Corded vacuums can maintain that power for infinite periods of time. Cordless units have a limited life on a single charge. If a cordless unit has high and low settings, know that it will run for much less time on the highest power because it takes more battery power.

Shag Carpet Vacuums Best For Style Cleaning Effectiveness HEPA Filter
Sonicare Soft Carpet Best Overall Upright A Yes
Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away True Pet NV752 Best for Pet Hair Upright A Yes
Eureka NEU182A PowerSpeed Best Budget Option Upright A- No
Miele Turbo Team Best for Allergen Removal Canister A Yes
Kenmore 22614 Pet-Friendly Canister Best Multi-Surface Canister A- Yes
iRobot Roomba i7+ Best for Hands Off Robotic B No
Dyson V11 Torque Drive Best for Quick Pick-ups Cordless B+ No

Suction Matters

No single feature matters as much in your shag carpet vacuum as suction power. While a vacuum head on solid flooring can rest on the material, a vacuum head on a shag carpet floats above it. That means the dirt competes with the air surrounding it, which the vacuum also sucks in.

Keep in mind too that shag carpet runs the gamut from the dreadlocks kind to something that resembles fake fur to the heavily textured weaves with crevasses and valleys. How well the vacuum picks up debris varies depending on how hard it must work to suck in the dirt while compensating for excess air flow. You want as much power as your depth of shag carpet needs and as much as you can afford.

Unfortunately, industry standards aren’t consistent when measuring suction power, because it depends on various factors. How deep or open the pile is, how high your vacuum head rides over the material, and how dirty it is all determine the suction strength in that moment. That’s why we rate cleaning effectiveness rather than a power factor in our comparison.

Adjustable Height

Because there are many kinds of shag carpet, people need to adjust the height of the vacuum head to match solution to problem. Sometimes it makes sense to run the vacuum over an area multiple times, lowering the height each time, to pick up things like dried leaves that crumble. Making it easy to adjust the height is another feature you’ll find to be important.

Another reason to look for an adjustable height in your machine is the surface underneath the shag. Surprisingly, a good pad under the shag, even under shag rugs, can do a remarkable job in making it difficult for the machine to suck in air and with it, dirt. That causes the machine to overheat and the motor to eventually burn out.

Also, a vacuum without adjustable height runs the risk of scooping in the shag itself in the brush head. That results in a jammed vacuum head (roller or brush won’t turn), possible damage to the shag from fibers pulled out of the material, and again, the possibility of burning out the motor.

Pile Depth

Shag can be thick or thin, tall or short, deeply grooved or consistently even. Fibers can be loose like fur or tight and wide like dreadlocks. Textured shag carries a combination of all options.

Consider how heavy the pile is (thickness in both depth and diameter of fiber clusters) before you make a vacuum decision. If you have multiple rooms with different shag, you’ll want a range of adjustments. A vacuum that makes reaching the adjustments easy wins bonus points.

Dealing with Allergies

Let’s put it out there – shag rugs and allergies are never going to be a good match, no matter how often you vacuum. There are times, though, when you can’t avoid the shag even when you have allergies in your household, such as renting or leasing a home with shag already installed. In this case, you want the vacuum to help you in destroying the dirt in the shag and in the air.

HEPA filters in the machine trap the allergens vacuumed up and scrub the air before releasing it back into your home. Without this, microparticles in the dust you suck in will only be exhausted back into your atmosphere. HEPAs and other filters come as reusable (periodic washing required) or replaceable (an ongoing expenses).

Rake Heads

If you want the shag to continue to look good as new, you want to separate and line up the locks on a regular basis. Some vacuums come with rake heads as either built-in components or accessory attachments to fluff up the shag.

You can do this manually too, with a standalone rake for rugs, but who has time to go over the same area twice?

In some machines, the rake is built into the head behind the brushes. Change the adjustment lever or dial and the rake is in place, with the suction on minimum power. That does a good job of fluffing the fibers while removing any stray pieces of lint or debris that might break off in the process.

Storage Requirements

Some of these vacuums are large, and they need to be. Imagine the motor size required to do an effective job cleaning up your deep, thick shag. Canisters take up the most room, followed by uprights. Cordless wands need a power source nearby.

Robots need the least space, though where they sit can be obtrusive. Keep in mind that you’ll be storing both the vacuum and any accessories it comes with.

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FAQs about Vacuums for Shag Carpets

We know you must have more questions about vacuums for shag carpets and rugs. Not all machines will be equally effective for this special type of cleaning. This section highlights a few of the common questions we hear.

Shag Carpet Vacuums Best For Style Ergonomics/Ease of Use Cleaning Effectiveness
Sonicare Soft Carpet Best Overall Upright A A
Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away True Pet NV752 Best for Pet Hair Upright A A
Eureka NEU182A PowerSpeed Best Budget Option Upright A- A-
Miele Turbo Team Best for Allergen Removal Canister A A
Kenmore 22614 Pet-Friendly Canister Best Multi-Surface Canister A- A-
iRobot Roomba i7+ Best for Hands Off Robotic A B
Dyson V11 Torque Drive Best for Quick Pick-ups Cordless A- B+

Does the material the shag is made of matter?

The short answer is yes. Some fiber materials are better at holding on to dirt while others release it more easily. In all cases, static electricity can build up on the fibers, causing a charge that clings to small particle debris.

Ever have your hair stand on end after shuffling your feet on carpeting? That’s the charge in action, but rather than repel the dirt like your hair standing on end, it holds on to it. This happens most often with vegetable or animal matter, like the crumbles of potato chips or pet dander.

Add to this the composition of your shag fiber, thin and fine versus thick and corded, and you could be in for a big cleaning process each time you fire up the vacuum. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations on vacuuming if you are buying the material yourself to see what they say about the best ways to keep your shag clean.

Can I use the same vacuum for all flooring surfaces?

Some vacuums, including a couple on our list, are multipurpose. As you can imagine, though, the more things the machine must be ‘good’ at, the more expensive it is and the less likely it will be to do all things well. Multi-surface vacuums can be fine for shag that isn’t terribly deep or thick.

Keep in mind that any adjustments could scratch or damage other surfaces if the settings are wrong. For example, a rake head can cut marks into wood floors, and super-suction settings won’t function well on tile. Matching the machine to the purpose, while creating duplicate equipment in your storage closet, could be the safest way to deal with varying flooring materials.

Shag Carpet Vacuums HEPA Filter Noise Weight
Sonicare Soft Carpet Yes B+ 10.5 lbs.
Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away True Pet NV752 Yes A- 16.4 lbs.
Eureka NEU182A PowerSpeed No B 10.0 lbs.
Miele Turbo Team Yes B 14.8 lbs.
Kenmore 22614 Pet-Friendly Canister Yes C 26.0 lbs.
iRobot Roomba i7+ No A 7.5 lbs.
Dyson V11 Torque Drive No B 6.7 lbs.

Will this vacuum remove all allergens?

Shags love allergens. They cling to it. Since most allergens are micro-particles, they’re easy to hide and tough to get rid of. For this reason, the medical community recommends that people with severe allergies avoid using shag carpets in their environment.

What’s better, a corded or cordless vacuum?

This is a time when corded is markedly better. Even the most advanced cordless vacuums have a limited vacuuming cycle on the high suction setting, which is what you’ll need to use to bring dirt out of thick pile.

If you can get your shag vacuumed in minutes because the area is small, great, but for most wall-to-wall applications, there won’t be enough time to do a good job.

Part of what makes cordless vacuums popular is their light weight, but in this case, that too can work against you. If it’s too light, the force of suction could attach the brush head to the carpet. It is instead sucking against the floor underneath and creating a vacuum in the vacuum head, so you won’t be able to move it.

The one place cordless could be a good idea is if you have one area rug in a house of otherwise solid flooring surfaces. You can vacuum the area rug and dust mop or sweep the rest. Shag rug in front of the fireplace, anyone?

What’s not to love about vacuums for shags?

Shag carpets and rugs are difficult to keep clean. This is probably why they went out of style for so long. Considering the advances made in the vacuum industry in terms of power and features, we should be in a better place today to deal with the dirt in our shags.

The other aspect to keep in mind is that a great shag vacuum may be a single-purpose machine in your house. If you have a good storage area for equipment like this, terrific, but if you don’t, you’re finding a home for something with limited use.

If you can select whether you have a shag in your home, assess how it will fit with the rest of the things you need to clean.

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Selection Criteria for Shag Carpet Vacuums

Unlike other vacuums, machine meant for working over shags need both suction and flexible features. They need to be extra durable, since shag pile will make them work hard. And they need to be comfortable and easy for you to use – or you won’t take it out of the closet.

Here are our comparative criteria for vacuums for shag carpet. Consider the best match for your type of shag and the associated price points as you make your buying decision.

Shag Carpet Vacuums Best For Style Ergonomics/Ease of Use Cleaning Effectiveness HEPA Filter Noise Weight
Sonicare Soft Carpet Best Overall Upright A A Yes B+ 10.5 lbs.
Miele Turbo Team Best for Allergen Removal Canister A A Yes B 14.8 lbs.
Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away True Pet NV752 Best for Pet Hair Upright A A Yes A- 16.4 lbs.
iRobot Roomba i7+ Best for Hands Off Robotic A B No A 7.5 lbs.
Kenmore 22614 Pet-Friendly Canister Best Multi-Surface Canister A- A- Yes C 26.0 lbs.
Dyson V11 Torque Drive Best for Quick Pick-ups Cordless A- B+ No B 6.7 lbs.
Eureka NEU182A PowerSpeed Best Budget Option Upright A- A- No B 10.0 lbs.

Style

Canisters have the greatest suction power, while uprights come in a close second. Robotic vacuums can be good options for continuous cleaning or cleaning between the big jobs. Something in each category lives on our list.

Ergonomics/Ease of Use

We award machines letter grades on how easy they are to use based on reviewers’ comments. Remember that higher suction power will also mean you need a little more muscle to move the machine, unless it comes with a power drive system. Deeper pile will also require more human intervention than textured or shallower shag.

Cleaning Effectiveness

While cleaning effectiveness depends on the machine’s features, it also factors in the flexibility of the vacuum to deal with a variety of cleaning styles, situations and conditions. For shag carpet, effective means doing a great job sucking out dirt, particles, bigger debris and pet hair. We award the letter grade based on reviewers’ feedback.

HEPA Filter

If you have allergies and would rather not inflame them, you’ll want a HEPA filter in your vacuum. Even if allergens don’t bother you, smells can come through in the exhaust from a vacuum. A HEPA filter helps to eliminate that, and we note whether each machine has it.

Noise

Big motors often mean bigger noise. If keeping the babies sleeping or avoiding terrified pets on your floors is high on your list, consider a lower noise option. We list a letter grade for how well reviewers say these vacuums do in this department.

Weight

While a too-light vacuum might be hard to move in high-suction mode, something too heavy will break your back and shoulder. We give you the total weight of the machine, minus accessories. Keep in mind that canisters ride on the floor, so you’re moving the brush head and connecting hose, not the whole weight of the machine.

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Yvonne Kohano

About Yvonne Kohano

Yvonne Kohano never met a remodeling project she didn’t like – almost. Ditto on tools to keep things looking great. She is a fiction author of romantic suspense and psychological thrillers, book/business coach for creatives, and nerdy student of human behavior and the natural world.

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