Best Vacuum for Thick & Plush Shag Carpet [Reviews]

A Shark Navigator upright vacuum sits on thick shag carpet

Shag carpets are great additions to a home. Super thick and plush, they add comfort and style to any room. However, their deep ply and thick fibers capture dirt and debris, and are very difficult for the average vacuum cleaner to clean. 

Shag carpets are some of the hardest things to clean in your home, which means that you need the proper vacuum cleaner for the job. We've found the top options for the best vacuum for shag carpets for your home.

High Pile, Thick Carpet Vacuum Features to Consider

​Shag carpet is beautiful, but lets be honest... it is not easy to clean. The super thick carpet fibers are like a magnet for dirt and debris. And, once deeply embedded in the carpet, they are very difficult to get out.

Suction Power

The best vacuum for ​thick carpets starts with having an incredible amount of power and suction. ​This is why you don't see any cordless vacuum cleaners or stick vacuums on our list. While there are a lot of cordless stick vacuums that have decent power, none are strong enough to truly be a best fit for shag carpet.

Note that we're not saying that cordless stick vacuums don't have very much power, because there are a lot of great cordless options. With that being said, we are specifically talking about shag carpet. And, we found better options that had stronger power and were designed for really thick carpet.

​To that point, corded vacuum cleaners draw maximum power. Certain brands and cleaners have specifically designed technology for increasing the suction power of the vacuum. Dyson and Hoover, for example, do a fantastic job with their cyclonic technology, which maximizes the power with which the vacuum sucks.

Brush Roller

Another important feature is the brush roller. Without a brush roller, a vacuum cleaner can't dislodge dirt and debris from the shag carpet, and would have to rely on suction power alone.

Brush rollers are an essential feature for keeping your shag and frieze carpets clean. Many vacuums don’t come with them, and you can’t rely on just pure suction to agitate and dislodge dirt inside of those thick carpet fibers.

Powerful suction combined with a good brush roller are the ingredients to a top vacuum for frieze carpet.

​Have you ever been using your vacuum cleaner, and it gets really hard to push when you get on thick carpet? That's because the brush roller isn't powerful enough to easily push through the thick fibers.

Unfortunately, many brush rollers get stuck and don't perform well on shag carpet. The best vacuum for shag carpet is specifically designed with a powerful brush roller.

That’s not all that can happen with the wrong brush roller. If it wasn’t designed to handle the thicker and longer shag carpet fibers, it could end up yanking them out. This causes damage to your carpet, while also clogging and jamming your brush roller.

Some of the characteristics of top-end shag carpet vacuums are adjustable brush rollers. With these, you can adjust the height of the motorized roller, so that it is positioned at the correct placement for your specific carpet.

There might be times when you don’t want the brush roller on when vacuuming your plush carpet. In this case, a brush roller that can be turned on and off is a nice feature. Many vacuums come with an on/off switch for the brush roller, independent of the vacuums suction power.

The bottom line is that you need a brush roller to get a deep clean on shaggy carpets, but you have to pick the right brush roller so it doesn’t jam up. When it comes to the best vacuum for high pile carpet, a brush roller will sit at the top of the list. 

Weight

Generally speaking, no one prefers a heavy vacuum cleaner. However, when it comes to thick, plush-style carpets, it is actually essential that you pick a lightweight cleaning option.

For starters, shag carpet is really thick, making it hard to push a vacuum over it. The heavier the vac is, the harder it will be to push it over the deep carpet fibers.

In addition, a heavy vacuum hurts your ability for the vacuum to clean by pushing the shag carpet loops and threads. This makes it more difficult for the cleaner to suck the dirt out of the fibers.

Luckily, there are plenty of vacuums that are both light in weight and strong in suction power.

Size and Type

The size of the vacuum you opt for has a lot to do with the style, or type or vacuum you select. Size doesn’t necessarily correlate with weight, and you can find different types of vacuums in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

The standard upright vacuum typically is larger and bulkier, but comes with more suction power and is often well priced. Uprights have been around for a long time, and are still the go-to workhorse option for a lot of people.

Canister vacuums, on the other hand, are highly convenient because their base slides across the ground on wheels, while you only need to hold and vacuum with a hose. Like uprights, they come packed with suction power, and a great to use to get behind tricky corners. However, they don’t provide for quick vacuuming in large spaces.

Stick vacuums are lightweight options that often can convert into a handheld variety. They are very easy to use and convenient, often coming with cord free options. Stick vacuums typically don’t have as much power, although you can find some higher priced options that have just as power as any upright or canister model.

When it comes to frieze or shag carpet, you need something that combines strong suction and lightweight convenience. You can find this in any type or style of vacuum, so focus on the specifications you want, and less on the style of cleaner.

Attachments

Many to most vacuums come with at least one or two attachments nowadays. For shag carpet vacuums, you’ll want to pay attention to having a few smaller brush options.

These are nice when you can’t seem to get something out of the carpet with your main cleaner head, and you want to use a smaller tool for additional leverage and suction power.

Attachments aren’t as vital for vacuuming shag carpet as they are in other scenarios like consistent pet hair clean up. Attachments are really useful in general on vacuums, but you’ll typically pull them out for other situations unrelated to your shag or frieze carpet.

shark navigator thick shag carpet

Large Wheels

We are getting to the more specific aspects of the vacuum to look at, but don’t gloss over this section. Large wheels are tremendously helpful when vacuuming plush, thick carpets, and can actually make up for a lot of other things.

Large wheels make it easier to maneuver your cleaner, which is important on this style of carpet. Large wheels are so much more effective than standard, smaller wheels that it can actually make up for a heavier weight in a vacuum.

As you can probably attest to, it is difficult to push a heavier vacuum over shag carpet when it has small wheels. The suction can sometimes leave the cleaner “fastened” to the carpet, and you have to jar it loose to move it again. Larger wheels help to keep that from happening.

In other words, pay attention to wheel size. Manufacturers typically charge more for lightweight cleaners, but not for ones with large wheels. If you’re looking to save a little bit of money, this little detail can allow you to opt for a vacuum that isn’t as expensive because it is a little heavier.

Maneuverability

Lastly, while this doesn't effect performance, keep an eye on how easy the vacuum cleaner is to maneuver. Shag carpet is made up of deep, thick carpet fibers and not easy to continually push a vacuum through. Many brush rolls are designed to subtly "push" the vacuum cleaner through the carpet, which is perfect for vacuuming shag carpet.

In summary, the best vacuum for shag carpet needs to be powerful with strong suction. It should have a high performing brush roll, and you'll benefit from a design that eases its maneuverability. Here are the ​four vacuums for shag carpet that we recommend.

​​Top Vacuum Reviews for Thick, Shag Carpet

​All of the vacuums on our list are great, but they each have different features. You'll want to evaluate which one is right for you based on budget, needed features, and how many different types of surfaces you have at your house. In the end, there is a good option on this list for everyone. 

Best Vacuum for Shag Carpet: Miele Complete C3 Canister Vacuum Cleaner

By far and away the best vacuum for thick shag carpet on the market, the Miele Complete C3 Vacuum for Soft Carpet is head and shoulders above all of its competition. Unfortunately, so is the price, so read on to see how valuable it's features are for you.

When it comes to suction power, Miele provides the same size motor as the Dyson listed above, putting off 1200 watts of suction. As we've said before, strong suction power is essential when buying a vacuum for thicker, deep pile carpets. Strong suction is the starting point for this Miele.

Miele pairs its strong suction with a 6 speed silence motor with specific settings for soft carpet (i.e. shag). Other models with large motors tend to be loud, but not this model of the Miele.

Here's where Miele really separates itself: the combination of its auto height adjusting motor in conjunction with its Electro Comfort electrobrush. We talked above about how important the brush roller is for cleaning shag carpet, and Miele's is by far the best.

For starters, its motor automatically adjusts to the surface that you're vacuuming, which is essential when you're dealing with thick pile carpet. That is also what makes this choice a fantastic, all-around vacuum. You can vacuum any surface without having to worry, as the Miele will automatically adjust the cleaner for the surface it is on.

This Miele will increase the suction power as soon as you hit hardwood floor, and decrease it once you get back onto thicker carpet. No need to do it yourself, and this automatic adjustments helps to keep your brush roller from jamming in high pile carpets. 

It​s brush roller is​ called the Electro Comfort electrobrush, and is the most sophisticated brush roller on the market (we don't make that distinction causally).

This electrobrush was specifically designed to agitate dirt out of thicker carpets, and has 5 different adjustable height levels, allowing it to adapt to any and all of the surfaces in your house. 

​Another favorite aspect of this cleaner is the HEPA filtration that comes standard on the Miele C3. HEPA filters are great no matter what type of scenario you are vacuuming with, but they are virtually essential for shag carpets. Because they are so thick, they can become a hotbead for dander and allergens to gather.

​Overview

  • ​Powerful Auto-Adjust Motor
  • ​​5 Level Electro Comfort ​brush roller
  • ​​Powerful suction at 1200 watts
  • ​​​HEPA filteration
  • ​180 degree Parquet Twister
  • ​19 lbs / 36 ft ​operating radius

Beyond all these great features, Miele provides loads of convenience with its 180 degree adjustable Parquet Twister vacuum head. The canister style vacuum cleaner has a 3 wheels that swivel 360 degrees, making it ultra-easy to use. Miele provides a long cord which gives you a 36 ft operating radius.

​​The Miele Complete C3 Vacuum​ is expensive, but it is the best on the market... no doubt. You'll be able to use it on every surface of your house, and it is backed by a strong and powerful Miele brand name.

​Why Buy?

Specifically made to handle thick carpets, this cleaner has power, convenience, and great filtration.

Best Upright Vacuum for Thick Carpet: Dyson Animal Complete Vacuum Cleaner

​The Dyson DC65 Animal comes with absolutely everything you need to clean your home from top to bottom, and that includes shag carpets too.

The sheer amount of tools that the Dyson DC65 Animal includes is extremely impressive.

First off, lets talk about the suction power of this Dyson. Using its signature Ball technology and 11.7 amps of power, this vacuum cleaner is perfect for shag carpet because it powerful. VERY powerful. ​

Next, lets focus on the brush roller. It's Better Brush Bar comes with 2 rear wheels and short, stiff bristles, making it ideal for shag carpet. This model also comes with a tangle-free turbine tool.

This tool features opposite moving stiff bristles with an articulating base plate. In other words, it can easily remove pet hair from carpets and upholstery without getting tangled or clogged.

Now lets talk about all of the accessories that this vacuum comes with. The Dyson DC65 Animal comes with an up top tool, which features a bent hose with a brush.

Y​ou also get a soft dusting brush. It has soft bristles with good suction power, making it ideal for things like tables, windows, and blinds.

You get a reach under tool that is specifically designed to get under hard to reach areas like under your sofa. The stiff bristle tool is great for getting stiff and stuck on dirt out of carpets and off of hard surfaces

. You even get a combination stair cleaning tool as well as a mattress cleaning tool.

The ​Dyson DC65 Animal ​comes with a large dust canister that is easily emptied for your convenience. The vacuum itself also has a reclining design, making it easy to get to hard to reach areas.

​Overview

  • ​Radial Root Cyclone technology
  • ​Powerful suction at 1200 watts
  • ​Washable HEPA filter
  • ​Upgraded Better brush bar
  • ​Maneuvers with one hand
  • ​17 lbs / 35 ft cord

In regards to maneuverability, this vacuum doesn't have any special self-propel features.

​But, it is surprisingly easy to move around, and does really well on shag carpet.

Don't be too alarmed by it's weight, as it is not hard to move along your carpet.

​Why Buy?

​​Incredibly powerful, with all the bells & whistles, this is the best vacuum for shag carpet on the market.

Best Wet/Dry Vacuum: Hoover Carpet Basics Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner

This Hoover is a little different than the other two models we've reviewed so far. But, if you really need a great tool designed specifically for cleaning shag carpet​, then this really might be the way to go.

 Unlike other vacuums we have looked at, this is a wet model, which means that it can use soap and water to clean your carpets

This Hoover will work as a normal "dry" vacuum for carpets as well, but it won't work for hardwood floors. It features hard bristles which work wonders for cleaning carpets, but they may damage hardwood floors, so keep this machine away from your wood floors.

You can use this model with soap and water for big cleaning jobs, or just use it with water. The nozzle allows for big suction power while the bristles pull all kinds of dirt and grime out of your carpets.

The counter rotating brushes are fantastic for getting all kinds of grit out of carpets, plus they won’t get tangled with hair.


Why Wet?

A wet vac will do a much deeper clean, as it uses detergent and soap. The vac isn't very versatile, though.

The Hoover FH50150 does come with a special extension hose and upholstery cleaning accessory.

This model features an easy to fill and maintain tank that can hold plenty of water. It also has a separate detergent canister with an automatic detergent injection feature.

To finish things off, this Hoover FH50150 has a heated blow dry feature to quickly dry your carpets.

If you're focusing on the very best vacuum to get your shag carpets deeply cleaned, we highly recommend this Hoover.

​Overview

  • ​Spinscrub Brush System
  • ​Powerful suction at 1200 watts
  • Dual tank technology
  • ​Heated cleaning
  • ​​Dual V Nozzle for even suction
  • ​18.1 lbs / ​20 ft cord

Not only will it use its suction power to pull the dirt and debris out, but it will also deep clean the carpet using detergent and water.

​If, instead, you're looking for a versatile vacuum that can handle your shag carpets along with the rest of the surfaces in your home, then you should look at the Shark Navigator Lift-Away or the Dyson DC65 Animal.

​Why Buy?

​​A strong wet/dry vacuum that deeply cleans your shag carpets. 

Best Budget Vacuum for Soft Carpet: Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Vacuum

The ​Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional is a fantastic entry level vacuum for vacuuming shag carpet. Don't get us wrong - this is not a cheap vacuum by any stretch. The Shark Navigator is one of the most popular and versatile vacuum's on the market, and one of the few that work equally as well on shag carpet.

​This Shark is significantly cheaper than the other options we've reviewed, and puts a strong focus on it's anti-allergen cleaning. And, it is a convenient 2 in 1 vacuum cleaner, which means you'll be able to use it for a variety of circumstances.

As mentioned, one of our favorite parts about this particular vacuum is that it is very clean and effective in terms of removing allergens and dust particles from the air you breathe.

The Shark Navigator features anti-allergen complete seal technology. This means that once dirt and anything else enters this vacuum, it won’t simply come back out.

Moreover, this model also includes a state of the art HEPA filter. It has the ability to remove almost 100% of dust and allergens from the air so you can breathe easy. It’s a great option to go with for anyone who has allergies or breathing issues.

​Another thing that we really like about this vacuum is that it is a two in one model. In other words, you can use the Shark Navigator Professional for cleaning floors, and at the same time disconnect the hose and canister from the base for versatility.

Clean your car, your stairs, your curtains and blinds... there are lots of options.

This Shark Navigator is lightweight compared to the Dyson we review below, weighing in at 12.5 lbs. It is equally as maneuverable, which is essential for pushing it across shag carpets. 

Overview

  • ​​Convenient 2-1 cleaner
  • ​10 amp motor
  • ​Anti-Allergen HEPA filter
  • ​Brush roller
  • ​Well designed manueverability
  • ​12.5 lbs / 25 ft cord

The Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional comes with several accessories including an extension wand for those hard to reach areas, a small hard bristled motorized tool for carpets, a soft brush hardwood cleaning tool, and microfiber pads.

While you might not need hardwood and laminate floor tools, getting them will make your vacuum more versatile. The Homemakers Journal has a great review on laminate flooring vacuums. 

​While this Shark does not have as many accessories as the Dyson, ​there are plenty of features to get the job done.

​Why Buy?

​The most affordable, versatile vacuum for shag carpet on the market.

Types of Shag and Plush Carpet

​Many people aren’t aware that shag is more of a reference to a style of carpet, rather than a specific type of carpet. Shag carpet merely refers to carpet that has very large pile but isn’t overly dense. Because of this combination, the carpet fibers “fall over”, and lay in a shaggy pattern.

In actuality, there are quite a few varieties and variations of shag carpet. Here are the most popular kinds and methods for caring for them.

Synthetic Shag

Probably the most common style of shag carpet is synthetic, or also just as commonly called cotton. This style is the most cost effective and most common to see. Cleaning this style of shag is easy and simple, at least in comparison to other styles.

These rugs tend to shed their fibers a lot less than their wool counterparts. A downside that some notice is a slight rubbery feeling or texture to the carpet, and this can be attributed to it being a manufactured carpet fiber.

Wool Shag

​If you want the most common high quality material for your shag or frieze carpet, then wool is what you want. Unlike synthetic, wool is all natural, and incredibly soft. Carpet makers tightly weave together wool to make carpet fibers.

Wool is a wonderful product to use on your carpet, but it does require ongoing care. Unlike synthetic, which is pretty durable across a wide range of circumstances, wool does require more ongoing care to keep it up. However, you’ll be rewarded with long lasting carpet fibers that stay soft for many years.

Felt Shag

Felt shag is actually a version of wooled shag, and is both soft and diverse in its style and coloring. It has all the same characteristics as a standard wool rug or carpet, but provides some exciting designs, patterns, and styles.

Leather Shag

​​While it might sound a bit odd, leather shag is growing tremendously in popularity. This style provides significant durability, as the leather fibers are stronger and more robust than the typical carpet fiber.

White wool shag carpet

Leather also brings with it a certain stylistically look that other variations don’t.

​Unfortunately, that style and durability also bring with it a certain amount of extra care. Regularly beating your leather shag rug or carpet will go a long way, and be careful with liquids around it.

Avoid vacuuming leather shag, unless you are fully confident that your vacuum is designed for this style of fibers. The leather pile gets stuck very easily in a vacuum’s brush roller. You could use your attachment hose for spot cleaning with the vacuum.

Flokati Shag

​With a name you probably won’t forget, flokati shag is made from 100% New Zealand wool. This type of wool is widely considered the softest and most supple of wool’s available. This style of carpet makes for an incredibly plush and soft carpet experience.

You have to be careful in cleaning wool, as it reacts negatively to water. Using baking soda in addition to regular vacuuming can help keep this style of carpet fresh and dirt free.

Super plush shag carpet

Super Plush

​This style of shag is exactly as it sounds – incredibly soft and plush. You’ll almost sink into this type of shag carpet, as it is incredibly supple and giving. Rather than other styles of shag carpet, where the high pile fibers are visible and apparent, this is a thinner and more dense style.

Super plush shag is made of synthetic to keep costs down, and are very difficult to clean thoroughly.

 Because they are so dense, dirt and debris gets stuck inside the fibers and is very, very hard to work out. Opt for a very high powered vacuum if you go with a super plush style shag.

Extra Long Shag

​Extra long shag carpets are like extreme versions of shag in and of themselves. Think shag but to the extreme.

The only unique thing about an extra long shag finish, compared to other styles of shag, is that their fibers are even more likely to get stuck in your vacuum’s brush roller. Consider it essential to pick up a vacuum with an adjustable brush roller, and preferably one that can turn off completely.

Mixed Texture Shag

​This style of shag is best saved for last, as it is usually a combination of several of the styles we discussed, mixed into one. Most often used as a rug rather than carpet, a mixed texture look adds style and character to the area.

This style can also be used to blend a thicker shag or frieze style with a different more common type, such as flat wool.

Conclusion

​At the end of the day, remember that the right tool will make your carpet cleaning job quick and simple. For those lighter jobs, a simple vacuum might do, but for the deep shag carpets, you will need something bigger and more powerful.

Focus on the suction power, brush roller capabilities, and HEPA filtration for thicker carpets, as these are the most important features.


About the Author Allen Michael

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.

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