Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: February 18, 2021
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We all love shag carpets. They’re soft, warm, and look great. But their deep and luxurious pile does have a tendency to trap anything small that comes into contact with it – from dust to pet hair and more. This can make cleaning a little tricky. Fortunately, there are vacuum cleaners on the market that are specifically designed to tackle tough jobs like this one, so you can enjoy your shag without the added hassle of trying to brush it clean, or use a vacuum that just gets stuck on it.
With this in mind, we’ve brought ten of the very best vacuum cleaners for shag carpet together. It was hours and hours spent, but we’ve managed to find vacuums suitable for your medium and deep shag carpets. We’ve read hundreds of customer reviews, product features, and special instructions on cleaning shag carpets to put together our top 10 list.
In this guide, we’re going to make sure that everyone is catered for, whether you’re looking for something on a budget in case you’ve just got a single rug that needs cleaning occasionally, or you need a great-performing vacuum for your full shag carpet in several rooms. Choose the most suitable vacuum easily using the table below. Read even more detailed product descriptions to find out more. And get to know about the key features you need to bear in mind when choosing a vacuum for a shag carpet from our buying guide.
The Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet is a very strong all-around choice that has clearly been designed for those who need a vacuum cleaner that can very comfortably tackle soft and shag carpets, while still being able to deal with all of the usual jobs around the house like cleaning wood or vinyl floors.
Perhaps the best feature of the Miele C3 is the powered electro brush. Unlike some competitors, it is fully powered to really clean through carpet fibers, and the height-adjustable system is excellent because it means you can ensure that you’re getting deep into the pile without snagging on the roller. It’s ideal for shag carpet.
When you’re not cleaning the carpet, the clever parquet twister means that the unit is easily maneuvered on smooth surfaces such as the kitchen floor.
A HEPA filter also comes fitted as standard which filters out even the smallest of dust particles, which is especially useful for those with allergies. Particularly as shag carpets can very easily accumulate lots of allergens. Use Original Miele FilterBags to ensure the AirClean filtration system works well.
We think this is arguably the best all-around vacuum designed for those with deep pile carpets. It’s been expertly designed in Germany, with its five-stage high adjustable brush to deal with whatever depth of shag you’ve got, and a few neat additions like the powered brush and comfortable handle just make it feel like money well spent.
What we liked:
Specially designed for soft and shag carpets
‘SoftCarpet’ gives excellent results
Five stage high adjustable brush deals with any shag depth
If you’re looking for something that’s technologically advanced and packed with features, then this Electrolux EL4335B is a sound choice. Designed to be able to do pretty much anything you might throw at it, as well as being great on a shag carpet, it’s a very good vacuum cleaner.
This is a canister style vacuum but comes with all of the features that you’d expect from a high-end upright. The brush roll, in particular, is the highlight. It can be switched on or off easily, but can also be set at one of three heights. In addition, the brush roll is self-cleaning, which means that it can remove tangles that result from hair at just the push of a button.
You get several attachments included with the Electrolux, and this combined with a long 33 ft total extension should enable you to use the vacuum on pretty much anything you want. It’s a whole house solution.
The EL4335B is priced in the mid-range but is still excellent value because of all the features that you get, in addition to its all-around good quality. Very highly recommended.
What we liked:
3-level adjustable brush with on/off feature for any carpet you have
The Shark Navigator Deluxe (NV42) is an upright vacuum cleaner at a very competitive price point. It’ll do just about everything you need pretty well, including the cleaning of shag carpet, and we just had to include it in our top ten.
The first thing that strikes you about this unit is how light it is. Despite being a full-sized vacuum cleaner with a fairly large dust capacity, it really doesn’t weigh very much at all – just 15 lb. Most people will be able to easily lift it with one hand, which should make cleaning less tiresome.
This really is the main focus of the Shark Navigator. A lightweight, good capacity, and long cord mean that it has been designed for people that want to be able to clean the whole house in one go without having to mess around. The brush shutoff helps with this, as it means you can more easily vacuum shag carpets without worrying about the roller getting caught, but if you want to thoroughly brush a normal carpet, you can. A mention must also go to the powerful suction ability on this machine, which won’t diminish as the dust cup fills, making it one of the best vacuums for pet hair.
Ultimately, this particular Shark product is best suited to those who are looking for a good budget option and don’t have too much deep pile carpet to deal with. The Shark will certainly do a good job of cleaning it, but it’s not a specialized unit.
The Soniclean Soft Carpet is a vacuum cleaner that just doesn’t look quite like any other, but it’s certainly not a case of style over substance. This specialist model is designed specifically with softer carpets in mind, and should be on the list for anyone with a shag pile carpet who doesn’t mind a mid- to high-end price tag.
With normal adjustable vacuum heads, it is the roller brush that retracts to deal with deep pile. This vacuum is a little different, however. It uses very large wheels that allow the head to float over the carpet, while an adjustable vent allows you to tailor for the pile depth. This gives a very effective system for a shag.
Soniclean isn’t just the brand name either. Sonic technology helps to dislodge dirt and particles that have worked their way deep into the pile, bringing them up to the surface in order to be sucked away.
If you have lots of soft carpets and have trouble with normal vacuum cleaners, then this might just be the best bagged vacuum cleaner for you. It’s not the cheapest option, nor the most versatile, but it sets out to do exactly what you need.
Hoover is a very well-known vacuum manufacturer, so it should be no surprise to find one of their excellent products on our list. This T-Series upright is a well-priced vacuum that will do very well on deep pile carpets and smooth floors alike.
This is another choice that has 5 different heights that you can choose from. There’s a dial on the base of the unit that lets you move between low and high depending on your carpet. This helps this particular vacuum get a high rating from us.
The WindTunnel technology that you’ll see referenced in the product marketing essentially just refers to the excellent suction ability, which promises to get even deep ingrained dirt out of carpets. It works well, and you should have no doubt about this vacuum’s ability to clear away debris.
It’s worth noting that the T-Series is marketed as being lightweight, and while it is less than 17 lb in weight, there are quite a few other options that are a few pounds lighter. It also doesn’t have a slimline build, so it will take up some storage space too.
Ultimately, this is a very good vacuum for deep pile carpets and everything else at a really attractive price. It’s well worth considering.
Another budget option from Bissell, the Zing Rewind, is a bagless canister vacuum designed to clean the whole home easily without breaking the bank.
What the customers like about the Bissell Zing is how easy it is to use and maintain. It’s nice and light, but it’s also very easy to empty and clean. It’s a simple job to detach the canister for emptying, and all of the filters can easily be removed and washed. Ideal for people that want a no fuss option.
Features are fairly basic, with just a manual on/off switch for the roller brush, which means that this might not be the vacuum for everyone, particularly if you’re looking for a lot of functions or technology. However, it might be enough for small dwellings with shag carpets in them. That said, the whole thing is well thought out, and built to a good standard.
To conclude, this is a good choice for those on a budget. It’s not the most advanced machine, and it does have fairly limited functions, but most people find that it does what they need.
We’ve already included one of Shark’s navigator products on the list, but it’s a good line, so you shouldn’t be surprised to see more of it here. This time we’re looking at the Lift-Away deluxe, which is designed as a more versatile unit. While still an upright vacuum that can very swiftly sweep across large floor spaces, it’s very light, at just 13 lb.
The best bit about this machine is the Lift-Away function, which allows you to lift off the entire cleaning nozzle and canister from the back of the upright, allowing you to clean those harder to reach areas. It’s a clever function and is more effective than uprights that just have an auxiliary wand.
As you’d expect, the motorized brush can be used on or off, so that you can clean those deeper pile carpets, and there are a few attachments that come with the vacuum cleaner too. The pet power brush, in particular, could be useful for those trying to get cat and dog hairs out of shag carpet.
This is a really versatile vacuum cleaner, with a good range of functions and accessories. It’s also priced very attractively, which means that we think it would be a really good choice for just about anyone who wants a single unit to handle lots of their cleaning needs, including shag carpets.
It’s not often that you’ll find a good vacuum cleaner at this kind of price, which is why we couldn’t not include the Bissell Zing on our top ten list. This is a fairly standard looking canister vacuum, but it has a few nice features that make it stand out above the rest.
The small form factor of this machine, its lightweight construction and telescopic wand make it a good choice for when you need something easily maneuverable. You can get in and out of nooks and crannies with ease, so this is a great vacuum for stairs as well.
When it comes to deeper pile carpets, you can hit a footswitch to turn the brush on the cleaning head off or on. This means you can get the best cleaning ability on most surfaces, though it’s a fairly low-tech solution – it’s not as effective as some of the more advanced machines on our list.
There are a couple of different attachments to choose from, and the full bag indicator is a nice little touch – it’ll help make sure you’re not trying to clean with the reduced performance that comes with a full dust bag. The adjustable suction is also good for rugs that you don’t want to lift up as you clean.
In conclusion, this is a highly recommended unit if you’re on a budget. It’s not the best if you’ve got really thick, deep carpet to clean, but for the occasional rug or sparser shag, it’ll do the job.
Next up we have our first cordless vacuum of the list. Completely battery powered, this Deik unit uses the now quite common design of having the canister and handle at one end of the suction wand or stick. It’s a clever design and is very convenient. Especially as the Deik weighs less than 5 lb.
One of the main concerns about cordless vacuums is how long the unit will last for before it dies. That shouldn’t be a problem here – on a full charge, you’ll be able to get a good 20 minutes of cleaning ability, which should be more than enough for most people. Combine this with the unit’s good flexibility and you have a great product on your hands.
For shag carpet, you can switch the brush on or off, but we would point out that the unit’s light weight and powerful suction means that it is the best choice for rather medium shag carpets than deep shag piles. It can’t glide over quite as easily as a standard upright would
A special mention should also go to the general ease of cleaning the Deik – pretty much everything is washable and easy to detach. Ideal for people who like to keep their appliances meticulously clean.
The cordless Deik is a very nicely designed vacuum cleaner all in all. It’s got plenty of good features and is very easy to use, but if you’ve got lots of shag carpet to deal with, or particularly deep pile, it might not be quite what you’re looking for.
The Shark Rotator is another Lift-Away product, this time in a canister style, and this one is designed for lightweight and flexible vacuuming. It’s a mid-range appliance with good features and strong suction.
The brush is fully motorized and has an on or off function. You can use it either attached to the full-length wand as normal, or you can just use it handheld, which makes it flexible enough to be used as a full carpet cleaner, but also good for things like car interiors or in and around furniture. There’s not really any vacuuming job it can’t take on.
One of the features that we really like is the fully sealed system that ensures that dust and the allergens it contains won’t escape back into the air while you’re vacuuming. Sometimes you’ll find that vacuums will actually kick up a lot of dust as they work, but that shouldn’t be a problem here.
Overall, this is a nice product. It’s a little bit more expensive than some alternatives, but you can be sure that you’re not throwing your money away.
What we liked:
Versatile canister style unit
Fully sealed HEPA technology
What could be better:
More expensive than some alternatives
No brush height adjustment
Things to Сonsider
When it comes to buying a vacuum cleaner for a shag carpet, there are several features you need to consider. Relying on product specifications and buyers’ reviews, we found out which are the most important.
Size and Shape
These days there are a lot of different sizes and shapes of vacuum cleaner that you can buy. There’s the standard upright that has been popular for decades, there’s the canister style, and then there are more modern handhelds that have been enabled by cordless and bagless tech. Each one will have different benefits – there’s no right answer – and the one for you will depend on what your requirements are.
The classic upright shape is probably the best for quickly and easily sweeping across large open floors and carpets. They’re ergonomic and easy to push, and generally have larger heads for swift cleaning ability. You can buy them in corded and cordless styles, along with ones that use bags, and ones that don’t. Their main drawback is that they’re usually heavier than other styles, and aren’t as good at getting into and round awkward spaces. Fortunately, a great many uprights do come with detachable wands and nozzles to give more versatility. There are plenty of these on the market, which means you should be able to find something to suit you.
Canister vacuums are usually the cheapest (but not always – see the Miele C3), which makes them a good option for those on a budget. They’re versatile too. You can use them to sweep across carpets, but they’ll do a very good job of getting into awkward places such as underneath furniture. Their small size means that they can also be stored easily, while still usually offering a good dust capacity. The main downside to canisters is that they’re not so easy to use on larger areas, and do require a bit more physical effort.
Handheld uprights are a good alternative and combine the ease of use that comes with an upright, and the versatility of a canister. They’re usually very lightweight and are cordless more often than not. The downside is that in order to keep weight and size down, the capacity is usually smaller. They are usually bagless however which does help to quickly get going again if the capacity gets filled.
So when you’re shopping for a new vacuum, consider the size and shape that would suit you best. If you don’t have any problems with physical effort and want something that can tackle the whole house, then an upright with detachable nozzle would be ideal. Alternatively, if you need something lightweight for a few small jobs, then a cordless handheld might be a good choice. A canister is a good go-between.
Bags and Cleaning
One of the other big things you’ll encounter when shopping is deciding whether to go for a vacuum that uses bags or one that doesn’t. Generally, this is down to personal preference. It used to be the case that bagless variants were considerably more expensive, but you’ll see from our list that this isn’t really the case anymore.
Bagged vacuum cleaners were the standard for a very long time, and are still very much widespread. Quite simply, the bag fills up with everything that you’ve vacuumed up, and when it’s full, you replace it. It’s straightforward, and bags aren’t generally too expensive, but naturally you do have to remember to buy bags.
Bagless vacuums take away the need to worry about the bag by having a specific part of the unit where all of the dust and debris is stored. You simply open a hatch to empty all of the bits that you’ve sucked up, and as the casings are always transparent, you can see when they need emptying. It’s often claimed that bagless vacuums hold their suction even as they start to fill up, unlike their bagged counterparts, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
The downside to bagless units is that you are definitely more likely to come into contact with dust when emptying them or cleaning the filters. This means that they might not be the ideal choice for people with allergies.
Ultimately the decision is up to you. Bagless vacuums will be a real attraction for some people, but bear in mind that even the very high-end units like many Miele products will come with bags. They aren’t necessarily the budget choice.
Inside the head of the vacuum will almost always be some sort of roller or brush – possibly both and sometimes more than one of each in different configurations. These are designed to help dislodge particles and things like hair from carpet fibers, or sweep bits off smooth floors and into the vacuum. They are a surprisingly important part of the vacuum cleaner and will make a big difference to how well it works.
The best types are ones that have a fully motorized brush that actively brushes as you vacuum. They’re really good at picking up everything off your floor or carpet, though they generally only feature on the mid-range and higher-priced units. Some heads will also have small brushes around the edge to trap and sweep up any debris that you might have missed. You’ll need to manually clean these as bits can sometimes get stuck in them.
When it comes to dealing with your shag carpet, the brush consideration becomes even more important. If you attempt to use a strong vacuum with a motorized brush on shag, you could very well find that the fibers twist around the brush roller and get stuck. This can be a real pain to sort out, and in the worst case scenario, might even damage the carpet or vacuum itself.
This is why you need to ensure that the vacuum you choose has functionality to either swap the head for a suction-only one, or it has a switch to retract the brush so it doesn’t get in the way. The very best vacuum cleaners that have specifically been designed for dealing with soft carpets and shag pile will have a variety of different heights that you can adjust through. This will mean that you can still get the cleaning ability of the brush, but without the risk of fibers getting caught.
You’ll find that almost all vacuum cleaners on the market will come with one or more additional attachments that are designed for specific cleaning jobs, and it’s a good idea to consider this before purchase because not all models will have attachments that you can buy later.
Generally, the most typical attachments that you’ll find are brushes, nozzles, and even rollers. For a good variety, you’ll want to make sure that the vacuum comes with one of the narrow nozzles that’s good for cleaning in small areas such as inside the car. It’s also good to have a brush one, which can actually be great for shag carpets. You can brush and suck at the same time without worrying about the fibers getting wrapped up in a roller brush.
Another thing that anyone will think about when they’re first considering a vacuum cleaner is the suction power. Naturally, stronger suction is going to do a much better job of picking up all of the dust and bits that are on your floor or in your carpet. If the suction is too weak, the vacuum simply isn’t going to be able to draw out particles from carpet fibers.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find out how good a vacuum is at sucking. The most obvious number that you’ll see is the power rating, which will be displayed in watts. This is the raw power that the motor generates while in operation and is generally a good indicator of how powerful the suction is going to be.
The issue is that this isn’t the be-all and end-all. The quality of the vacuum cleaner’s construction will have a big effect on how much of the motor’s power actually turns into useful suction, and some of the more technologically advanced machines can maintain very strong suction with surprisingly small wattage.
This is why there’s no real substitute for reading good reviews on the product you’re looking to buy. First-hand accounts of how the vacuum cleaner fares with everyday jobs are the best way of deciding if it’s strong enough for your needs.
It’s worth noting at this point that better suction isn’t always the best in all situations, which is why you’ll see that some units come with an adjustment dial that allows you to choose the power level. This is especially useful for things like smaller rugs where the vacuum might end up picking the whole rug up as you try to clean it. Similarly, the deep pile can sometimes be more difficult to deal with if the suction is too strong because it’ll have a tendency to get stuck in the head, making pushing the vacuum more difficult.
Finally, one common opinion is that cordless vacuums are weaker than their corded counterparts. While this was the case with some of the original generation years ago, this generally isn’t a worry with modern products.
Shag Carpet Cleaning Tips
As we’re doing a run-down of the very best vacuums for shag carpet, we think it would also be useful to go through the best ways of making sure that your deep pile carpets and rugs stay in tip-top condition. There’s a slightly different process to normal if you want the best results.
The first thing that you should do is go over the carpet or rug by hand and try to remove any of the larger and more visible pieces of debris. The next step will depend on whether you’re dealing with a carpet or rug.
If you’ve got a rug, then it would be ideal to take it outside and beat it first. You should then turn the rug over so that it’s upside down, and vacuum the back. This might seem counterintuitive, but it will actually help to loosen any of the dirt and debris that has burrowed its way deep into the pile by vibrating it. Remember that you’ll need to vacuum up the floor underneath afterword.
Next, or if you have a carpet, use your vacuum cleaner with the brush roller retracted, or at an appropriate setting if it’s a specialist vacuum. Make sure you go over the area several times as shag is good at trapping things.
Once you’ve done this, it’s a good idea to go over the shag carpet or rug again with one of the attachments to get in between the fibers. The crevice tool can sometimes be useful here if the shag is long but not too dense. Brush attachments are effective too, as you can really work your way through the pile manually.
And that’s all there is to it. The job is made much easier and more effective with the right vacuum, but be reassured that shag carpet really isn’t that difficult to maintain if you know how.
Now that you’ve read through our full buying guide, plus all of the reviews for the excellent vacuums we’ve found, you should be in a good position to choose your next cleaning appliance. Bear in mind all of the things that you need from your vacuum cleaner, and how to make sure each unit checks these boxes, and you’re sure to pick the right one. All of the vacuums that we’ve reviewed come highly recommended.