Whether you like to admit it or not, your home’s carpets are dust magnets. Everything from tiny pieces of food to pesky dust mites can get trapped within the labyrinth of carpet fibers, making it very difficult clean to them properly. Therefore, vacuuming carpets is indeed very different from vacuuming e.g. tiles, hardwood, linoleum or any other type of hard floor. In this comprehensive guide, we will dive right into the world of the best vacuum for carpet and rugs, as seen from the year 2018. I’ve split the analysis by different types of carpets, you can use the following table of contents to go directly to the section you are interested in.
- 1 Why do you need to select a vacuum cleaner properly suited for different types of carpet?
- 2 Shag Carpets
- 3 Plush & Soft Carpets
- 4 Berber Carpets
- 5 Mohawk Carpets
- 6 Final Comments
Why do you need to select a vacuum cleaner properly suited for different types of carpet?
Not all vacuum cleaners suit all types of carpets. Some vacuum cleaners lack the suction strength to suck out dirt from deep within the fibers while others can end up damaging your expensive carpets and rugs. Seemingly small parameters such as weight and wheel size also play a crucial role when selecting the perfect cleaner for your carpets. Considering there is really no room for guesswork, we listed down all the common carpet types and the ideal vacuum cleaners to clean them.
Like its name suggests, shag carpets have a shaggy surface. The long fibers of a shag carpet pose a unique cleaning challenge. They can easily get entangled in the beater brush attachment or the rotating brushes of a robotic cleaner. The long fibers also create the perfect habitat for dust particles, mites, and fleas.
The challenges posed by a shag carpet
The main problem with a shag carpet is that the long fibers have a tendency to come loose. This means you need a vacuum cleaner that can suck out the dirt without dislodging the fibers. Therefore, when cleaning your shag carpet you should absolutely never use a beater brush attachment. We will later share a trick on how to flip a shag carpet and clean it with a beater brush attachment. However, as a general rule, keep any rotating brushes away from the top side of a shag carpet. Thankfully, most modern beater brush vacuum cleaners give you the option to turn off the rotating brushes.
Now, because you cannot use a beater brush you need a vacuum cleaner with a stronger suction strength to suck in the dirt and debris stuck deep within the carpet. A corded canister vacuum cleaner or an upright usually have enough suction power to get the job done. For example, the newest Shark Apex is a great upright for shag carpets. The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is also a great vacuum that comes with ample suction strength and a feature to turn off the beater brush rotation.
Shag carpets are notorious for attracting tiny dust particles that potentially trigger dust allergies. To combat this problem you need a cleaner that comes with a HEPA filter. While inferior filtration systems are unable to filter out allergy-causing particles, HEPA filters can trap in microscopic allergens and dust particles. The one best filtration systems I’ve seen is in the Miele canisters. Another practical feature that you need to look out for is large wheels. Vacuum cleaners with small wheels can snag the carpet fibers, which then get entangled. Large wheeled cleaners have a higher ground clearance and thus they can zoom over the fibers without pulling them in.
The most important attributes of a vacuum which needs to handle shag carpets
- Strong suction
- No beater brush or models with brushroll turn-off feature
- Large wheels for a smooth glide
- HEPA filtration to trap in allergens and microscopic dust particles
Best vacuum cleaners for shag carpets – my top picks
Dyson Ball Animal 2
Why just get a vacuum cleaner just for shag carpets when you can get the all-round performance of the Dyson Ball Animal 2. This upright cleaner is pretty much the ultimate workhorse and it comes with a long list of accessories. It has a 0.55 gal dust canister, which is sufficient even if you have a big carpeted space and multiple pets in your home. The unit delivers an impressive suction power of 270 air watts. Its superior suction strength allows it to pick up dust from bushy carpets without relying on a beater brush attachment. Another great usability feature of the Animal 2 is that it has an operating radius of 50 feet. This means less time and effort switching power sockets. The upright comes with Dyson’s Ball technology, which allows you to swivel and navigate the unit with much ease. When you are cleaning a shag carpet with the Dyson Animal 2 there is zero chance of the carpet fibers getting entangled in the wheels. This is because, when you are using the vacuum the wheels rise upwards and the entire unit rests on the giant ball. This vacuum cleaner does come with motorized brush roll, but you do get the option to turn it off when cleaning delicate surfaces such as shag carpets and rugs. To top it all, the Dyson included a HEPA-like filtration. In every way, the Animal 2 is the perfect beast to tackle a dirty shag carpet. The only thing that works against it is its asking price, which however is deemed small when compared to its brothers (e.g. Cinetic is around $100+ more).
- HEPA Filtration
- Great Suction Strength
- Easy To Navigate
- Relatively cheap for a Dyson
Shark Apex DuoClean
Available almost the entire price of the Dyson, Shark Apex is a great choice for cleaning shag carpets. The model comes with Shark’s trusted Anti-Allergen Complete Seal, which prevents even the finest of dust particles from escaping. The seal is coupled with a HEPA filter that traps 99.9% of allergens and dust particles. The great thing about the Powered Lift-Away technology is that it allows you to detach the canister and use the extension wand to reach underneath the furniture. This means you can clean the carpet area that’s hidden away under tight spaces. Another great addition is the dual headlamps, which illuminates dark spaces, making cleaning that much easier. Even though the Shark Apex vacuum comes with brushroll, you do have the option to turn it off when working on a shag carpet. It also comes with Shark’s most advanced swivel steering technology, which makes it really easy to steer this bad boy around complex obstacles. When cleaning a delicate shag carpet, we do suggest using the upholstery tool instead of the standard floor attachment.
- Transforms from an upright to a canister
- HEPA Filtration
- Very versatile
- On sale for a limited time
Miele Complete C3 SoftCarpet PowerLine
The Miele SoftCarpet is the newest addition made by Miele to their C3 line, specifically designed to clean carpets. It has slick wheels and height adjustment. It also allows you to turn off the brush rotation with a flick of a switch. Another great feature that makes it ideal for delicate carpets and rugs is that it comes with an adjustable suction control. When you are working on cleaning a shag carpet we suggest keeping the suction at a moderate level. Like all the other models mentioned in our pick, the SoftCarpet does come with a HEPA filter. However, Miele’s filtration system is well known for its premium quality. The Ultraflex has a reach of 36 feet, so you will never be too far off from a power socket. While it has a steep sticker price, it is available on Amazon and other stores at a good discount. The only downside of this Miele is that it’s a canister vacuum cleaner and would have to lug the canister unit around. However, that inconvenience is partially compensated by its lightweight construction and wheels. Overall, it’s a trusty cleaning companion that’s perfect for cleaning shag carpets.
- Easy Adjustment
- Suction Control
- Ultra HEPA filters
- Available with a discount here
Plush & Soft Carpets
Back in 2010, carpet manufacturer Mohawk and Shaw developed a new type of carpet with more fibers per inch. These carpets are aptly called plush carpets because they are very soft and luxurious. While these carpets deliver amazing cushioning and that smooth and soft feeling underfoot, they definitely pose a cleaning challenge. Plush carpets have dense hair-like strands that create a tight seal against the vacuum head. With no air passing through, the vacuum head sticks to the carpet making it extremely difficult to move it around. In fact, some vacuum cleaner heads end up creating such an airtight seal that they are impossible to budge while turned on. Plush carpet manufacturers do recognize this problem. This is why they recommend specific vacuum cleaner models that can efficiently get the job done.
The cleaning issues raised by a plush carpet
There are two things that a vacuum cleaner needs to be able to work on a plush carpet. Firstly, it needs to have suction control. Mainly because reducing the suction setting can prevent the vacuum from sticking to the carpet, which in turn makes it easy to maneuver. The second important feature is adjustable height setting. This feature will allow you to raise your vacuum’s floor attachment so it doesn’t end up getting bogged down. We recommend the starting by selecting the highest setting where the floor attachment is kept as far away from the carpet as possible. If it’s a smooth glide lower the attachment by selecting a lower height setting. This way you will be able to find the perfect height setting for a seamless navigation without compromising the cleaning performance. All in all, if you are looking for a vacuum cleaner for plush carpets, it’s best to select a model that’s recommended by reputed carpet brands such as Mohawk or Shaw, or one that has soft carpet cleaning ability mentioned in its features list. Or better yet, pick one from my recommendations.
Key features for vacuums made for soft/plush carpets
- Adjustable suction control
- Adjustable height
- Specially manufactured for plush carpet
Best vacuum cleaners for plush carpets – my top picks
Soniclean Soft Carpet Vacuum Cleaner SFC-7000
Soniclean Soft Carpet vacuum cleaner is recommended by both Shaw and Mohawk, among many other carpet producers. It comes with a few unique features that enables it to efficiently clean plush carpets and other surfaces. It has a special vacuum head with airflow vents that ensures easy maneuverability over soft carpets. The vacuum also has a special brush roll with soft nylon bristles that pick up dirt from the carpet fibers without causing any damage. Soniclean has fitted a Patented Sonic Bar underneath the vacuum head that produces 200 vibrations per minute. This vibrating bar helps in detaching and lifting up dirt particles stuck deep within the carpet pile. The great thing about the Soniclean Soft Carpet SFC-7000 is that it’s not just for cleaning plush carpets. It offers the same convenience and versatility that you would expect from any other upright cleaner. It comes fitted with HEPA filter and it offers a motor warranty of 5 years. The unit also has a 35 feet power cord, which is perfectly suited for large rooms and halls. Even with the long list of features, Soniclean has managed to keep the unit pretty lightweight as the cleaner weighs a mere 10.5 lbs.
- Sonic Cleaning Technology removes embedded dust particles
- Adjustable vents and large wheels allow a smooth glide over plush carpets
- HEPA filtration
- Read more reviews here
Miele Complete C3 SoftCarpet PowerLine (again)
I have to recommend this vacuum canister for plush carpets too. The Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet is a perfect cleaner if you have large carpeted sections in your home. What separates it from other vacuum models is that it comes with a special Soft Carpet mode. When on, the cleaner automatically adjusts the suction strength and brush rotation speed to ensure smooth navigation over plush carpets. As discussed above, taking a step forward from standard HEPA filters, this Miele comes with HA50 HEPA AirClean filters, which effectively trap 99.99% of all dust and allergens. The unit comes with a 5-level height adjustment feature, which makes it perfect for plush carpets. Miele Complete C3 has a pair of 360 degree swivel wheels. This allows the unit to easily move in any direction at any time. Much like the Electrolux Ultraflex, the Miele Complete C3 gives you the option to control the suction strength. Priced around $800, there is no debating the fact that it’s expensive. While it does lack the versatility of a Dyson or a Shark, its carpet cleaning prowess is matched by none. It’s one of the few units that’s capable of cleaning all types of carpets be it low, medium, or high-pile.
- Special Soft Carpet Mode to Clean Plush Carpets
- Superior HA50 HEPA Filter
- Suction Control
Oreck LW1500RS Magnesium
Oreck Magnesium is another upright which comes specially recommended by Mohawk (besides the Soniclean). The LW1500RS Magnesium by Oreck is a bagged vacuum cleaner perfect for both ultra-soft carpets and hardwood floors. The Oreck LW1500RS has a super light magnesium frame that weighs only 7.7 lbs. In fact, the Magnesium is currently one of the lightest upright vacuum cleaners available in the market. It has two power settings, which allows you to regulate the motor speed when navigating it over a soft carpet. Even though it’s an upright you can use it to clean underneath the bed and furniture. This is made possible by the fact the Oreck’s main body can lie flat on its back while its vacuum head continues cleaning. This particular model comes with a HEPA bag and a 30 foot power cable. Oreck also offers a pretty impressive 7-year warranty on the LW1500RS. Allowing a smooth glide over all types of surfaces, the Oreck comes with a pair of large wheels. The Oreck Magnesium is an all-around cleaner that’s specially geared work on all types of carpets. Thanks to its superior cleaning prowess, this model has won the Seal of Approval by Carpet and Rugs Institute.
- One of the lightest upright vacuum cleaners on the market
- Approved by the Carpet and Rugs Institute
- Easy to use
Berber carpets are back in fashion thanks to their superior durability. While they are not as soft as plush or shag carpets, they are much more resistant to foot marks and abrasions. To understand what type of vacuum cleaners are suited for Berber carpets, you need to know how these carpets are made. While the expensive Berber carpets and rugs are made using wool, the cheap ones are woven together using nylon or Olefin fibers. Just in case you don’t know, Olefin is a plastic material that has a pretty low melting point. Berber carpets have a typical braided weaving style. Also known as loop carpets, these have tiny rows of looped fibers all braided together. This means if you break one of these loops the entire row of intertwined fibers can potentially come loose. Taking these factors into consideration is very important to select the right vacuum for your home’s Berber carpeting.
The cleaning challenges posed by Berber carpets
Many believe Berber carpets can be cleaned using any vacuum cleaner. That’s not entirely accurate. The most important thing you need to keep in mind when vacuuming a Berber rug is not use a beater brush attachment. Hard rotating bristles of a beater brush can snag on the tiny loops of the carpet and leave behind an irreparable scar. Beater brushes are even worse when used on Berber carpets that are made using Olefin fibers. That’s because the beater brush can create enough heat when brushing against the fibers to melt the Olefin threads. Therefore, the ideal vacuum cleaner for Berber carpets should have enough suction to pull out the dirt without the need of rotating brushes. Simply buy a model that comes without a beater brush or one that allows you to turn off the rotation. We are going to keep our recommendations list short because you can pretty much use any vacuum cleaner on a Berber carpet as long as it does not use a beater brush to clean it.
Ideal features of vacuum cleaners for Berber carpets
- Sufficient Suction Power
- Without a brushroll, or with a on/off button
Best vacuum cleaners for Berber carpets – my top picks
Miele Compact C1 Pure Suction
As we mentioned before, Berber carpets need to be vacuumed with a cleaner that has a high suction. The German brand Miele has been producing high-performance vacuum cleaners since 1927. Their Compact C1 line, more specifically the Pure Suction canister, is an excellent choice for both low-pile carpets as well as hardwood flooring. One of the main reasons why I’ve picked the C1 Pure Suction is the special floor tool. Known as the SBD 285-3 AllTeQ, this floor head has retractable bristles to clean delicate surfaces such as hardwood floors and Berber carpets. The AllTeQ floor head comes with a giant switch that allows you to use gentle foot taps to change modes from bare floors to low-pile carpeting. The nozzle sits on rubberized wheels which not only ensure a good grip, but also protects the carpet from damages. Apart from that, the SBD 285-3 also has a wide suction intake that improves airflow and delivers a more efficient clean. The C1 Pure Suction gives you the option to choose between 6 motor speed settings depending on the surface you are working on. Miele Compact is powered by a 1200 Watt vortex motor that packs in enough power to take on any challenge, and is well capable of handling a dusty Berber carpet.
- Powerful 1200 Watt Vortex motor delivers ample suction
- AllTeQ Floor attachment is perfect for Berber Carpets
- Cheapest Miele on the market
Shark IONFlex 2X DuoClean
The Shark IONFlex 2X DuoClean is pretty much the perfect cordless upright for most homes. It’s versatile enough to clean all types of surfaces including Berber carpets. While this Shark does come with a motorized brush attachment you do get the option to disengage the rotation with a simple press of a button. Like its name suggests, it does come with the DuoClean technology, which means it has a helpful plush roll besides the standard bristle brushroll. It delivers a powerful suction performance, enough to suck out dirt from Berber carpets. The IONFlex 2X offers HEPA filtration and it gives you liberty, being a cordless. Overall, the IONFlex 2X DuoClean is a very well-priced vacuum cleaner that’s perfect for homes with Berber carpeting.
- Reliability of the Shark Brand
- Option to turn off brush rotation
- DuoClean Technology
- Cordless and lightweight
- Read more reviews
Mohawk carpets are typically very easy to maintain. They have a durable built quality and most of them are resistant to staining. However, there are a few vacuum cleaner recommendations that are specific to Mohawk carpets.
- Loop Carpet / Frieze or Shag Carpet: Mohawk recommends disengaging the beater brush attachments when cleaning these carpet styles.
- Soft or Plush Carpet: Use special soft carpet vacuum cleaners that do not create a suction seal. Mohawk recommends a long list of vacuums for soft carpets which includes Oreck LW100/LW1500RS Magnesium, Shark Rotator Lift-Away and Eureka Airspeed series.
- Other Carpet Styles: Other carpet styles such as texture and pattern can be cleaned using a beater brush.
Types of Mohawk Carpet and the vacuum cleaners that suit them
SmartStrand Silk/Silk Reserve: Part of the SmartStrand Forever Clean line, the SmartStrand Silk is a luxury soft carpet range from Mohawk. Being a SmartStrand, these carpets are naturally stain resistant. This means you would never have to worry about removing stubborn dirt stains. All you need to do to keep these carpets clean is to use a compatible vacuum cleaner to remove the fine dust particles and debris. Each carpet fiber of Mohawk SmartStrand Silk is made up of 700 fine threads. This means it’s a soft carpet that can form a seal and thus restrict the free movement of ordinary vacuum cleaners. Mohawk primarily recommends the Soniclean SFC-7000 upright vacuum cleaner and the Bissell BGU6000 for this carpet type. Apart from these two, Mohawk also released a long list of vacuum cleaner models that can be used to clean soft carpet types such as the SmartStrand Silk and Silk Reserve.
AirO: AirO line by Mohawk is a range of 100% recyclable carpets made from PET plastic. That’s right, it’s made using the same material that’s used to make plastic soda bottles. Now, because it’s made from PET, we would recommend turning off the beater brush rotation to prevent fiber damage caused by excessive heat. AirO carpets also have a layer of felt padding that gives it a soft and cushiony feel, without the need for increasing the thread count. As far as vacuum cleaners go, you can pretty much use any model, as long as you use it with the brushroll turned off.
Wear-Dated: Mohawk Wear-Dated carpets are made from super resilient nylon strands. They are not only stain resistant, but can also be cleaned using a beater brush. However, if you own a Wear-Dated Soft Touch carpet, you might want to use one of the units from the Plush/Soft section, to ensure no damage comes to it.
EverStrand: Much like the Mohawk AirO, EverStrand is a line of recyclable carpets made from plastic fibers. Plastic being susceptible to high temperatures, I would recommend not using the brushroll attachment to protect the carpet from friction generated heat. It’s also best to disengage the brushroll when vacuuming an EverStrand loop style carpet.
ForeverFresh Ultrasoft: ForeverFresh Ultrasoft is a range of soft carpet by Mohawk that comes in various texture and pattern styles. Earning its name, the Forever Fresh carpets help control pet odor and other nasty smells. It uses a safe and natural chemical called zeolite to neutralize any foul odor and its special 3M Scotchgard Protector which makes the carpet stain resistant. We recommend using special soft carpet vacuum cleaners such as the Miele C3 or the Soniclean when vacuuming this carpet type. We also recommend turning off the brushroll because the ForeverFresh Ultrasoft is made from PET plastic.
SmartCushion: SmartCushion is a special type of memory foam padding that gives the carpets additional softness. Keep in mind that SmartCushion is a type of underlay, not a type of carpet. You can choose to add the SmartCushion underlay when buying a Mohawk carpet. For example, you can buy a SmartStrand Silk soft carpet and add the SmartCushion underlay for more comfort. The SmartCushion underlay not only adds to the softness factor, but it also gives you 20 years additional warranty on the carpet. The SmartCushion underlay should not influence your vacuum cleaner buying decision. The type of vacuum cleaner you can use would really depend on the type of carpet over the SmartCushion padding.
I hope this comprehensive guide will help you select a great vacuum cleaner, perfect for your type of carpets. Armed with this information, not only you will be able to keep your home clean, but also to ensure your carpet keeps looking like new for years to come. If you have any comments, feel free to drop them in the form below. I would love to know your thoughts about my recommendations.