Best Vacuum for Shag Carpet

Best Vacuum for Shag Carpet

Shag carpet presents a unique challenge for vacuum cleaners. The vacuum needs to provide enough suction to grab the dust and dirt from deep between the carpet fibers, but still be gentle enough not to tangle or damage the fibers. Simply pushing a vacuum across thick carpets can be a challenge if you don’t have the right equipment. We tested 7 of the best vacuum cleaners for shag carpet available, and the vacuum that came on top: Oreck LW100 Magnesium

Shag carpet presents a unique challenge for vacuum cleaners. The vacuum needs to provide enough suction to grab the dust and dirt from deep between the carpet fibers, but still be gentle enough not to tangle or damage the fibers. Simply pushing a vacuum across thick carpets can be a challenge if you don’t have the right equipment.


The best vacuum for shag carpet is one that is maneuverable, powerful, and resistant to tangling. You want to look for a model with large wheels and a relatively low center of gravity. Because these kinds of carpets can trap a lot of dust and other small particles, a strong filtration system is also a plus to keep whatever you sweep up from being blown right back into the air.

The good news is that any vacuum that can handle shag carpet is also likely to be versatile enough to take care of any other surface in your home. The options on the list below run the gamut from uprights to canisters to convenient convertible 2-in-1 designs. One of them is guaranteed to suit the specific needs of your home.

Best vacuums for shag carpet

Product Reviews

Oreck LW100 Magnesium Bagged Upright

Oreck is a leading name in advanced cleaning technology, and this upright model is one of their most powerful ones yet.With an airflow of over 100 miles per hour, it has the suction you need to clean any type or depth of floor with ease.

The LW100 has two power settings. While the “high” setting is ideal for most carpets, the “low” setting gives you a gentler clean that’s perfect for delicate rugs, as well as giving you a thorough clean on your hardwood and linoleum floors.

The Quickswitch toggle makes it easy to switch between the two. This makes it one of the more versatile vacuum cleaners on the market, handling every type of surface you put it on with ease.

The high suction power doesn’t just give you a deeper clean, either. It also makes the vacuum incredibly easy to use. It practically moves itself around, even on more difficult surfaces. It uses larger wheels than most vacuum cleaners, improving the model’s maneuvering ability. The design is user-friendly in other ways, too. The base has a slim profile, letting it fit easily under furniture, and it’s just under 8 pounds, so it’s easy to carry around—even if your home includes multiple staircases.

Shag carpeting traps a lot of dust, which can be awful for anyone with allergies in the home. The Magnesium upright uses a Saniseal system on the bag to make sure that dust stays in the vacuum once it’s been picked up. The HEPA filtration also prevents allergens from escaping. All told, this is the best vacuum for shag carpet in a house with lots of other surfaces, too.


What we like:

  • Powerful suction cleans deep in all carpet weights
  • Low profile of brush lets it fit under furniture
  • Lightweight for easy transportation
  • Large wheels are more maneuverable for easier operation
  • HEPA filtration and Saniseal system trap more dust
  • 7 year warranty


What we didn't like:

  • Can’t adjust height or handle length
  • No included accessories or attachments

If you’re looking for something powerful and durable enough for professional use, the 1500XP from ProTeam is a model you want to look at.

It’s designed to last through the rigors and abuse vacuums take when they’re used in places like hotels, office buildings, and schools.

That performance level means you can count on the 1500XP to last a while in your home.

The main selling point of this model is its power. It uses two motors, with one powering the brush and the other powering the suction, making sure they can both operate at maximum effectiveness at once. This is perfect for people with high-pile carpets, since you know the suction power will stay high no matter how hard the brush is working.

The filtration on this vacuum is advanced, too. It uses a four-level filtration system that includes a HEPA Media Filter. This guarantees you’ll capture over 99.9% of particles as small as .3 microns, including pollen, bacteria, dust mites, and mold. They’ve even partnered with the American Lung Association to spread the word about air quality, so you know they’ve got the backing of professionals behind their claims.

The ProForce 1500XP comes with everything you’ll need to clean your entire home. This includes a five-foot hose, which can be extended to a seven-foot reach by using the attachment wand. You can also use it with either the crevice tool or the upholstery and dust brush. You’ll also get two spare filter bags in the box, letting you use it for longer before you need to buy more.


What we like:

  • Powerful dual-motor engine for a deep clean of thick carpets
  • Wide cleaning head lets you clean large carpets more quickly
  • Advanced HEPA filtration traps even small allergens
  • Includes helpful accessories like a crevice tool and upholstery brush
  • Extra-long power cord means less stopping during cleaning


What we didn't like:

  • On the heavy side (18 pounds)
  • Not great for thin rugs and hard floors

Electrolux EL4335A Ultra Flex Canister Vacuum

This canister model from Electrolux is designed specifically for use with thick carpets, and it excels at this aim.

The most impressive feature in this regard is the self-cleaning brush roll, which lets you remove any tangles at the push of a button. 

Not only does this guarantee you won’t have any issues with your vacuum getting caught on the carpet fibers, it makes the vacuum better at grabbing hair—both the human and the pet variety.

While it’s designed for thick carpets, the Electrolux Ultra Flex is no one-trick pony. It offers three different height levels for the brush and an adjustable suction control. This gives you much more detailed customization of your cleaning settings than most vacuum models, letting you turn down the power for delicate rugs or curtains, or crank it up for ground-in dirt on carpets. The included tools give it even more versatility. The extendable wand has an eight-foot reach and can be paired with the crevice tool, upholstery nozzle, or bare floor nozzle to make it right for any surface.

The Electrolux Ultra Flex also gets high marks for its ease of use. It uses a motion control system for better maneuverability, with extra-large wheels that roll smoothly over even thick carpets. The relatively light weight of around 11 pounds means it’s easy for most people to carry it from room to room or floor to floor, and the controls are simple, straightforward, and conveniently placed right at your fingertips.


What we like:

  • Adjustable brush height and suction power for different surfaces
  • Self-cleaning brush roll prevents tangles
  • Cyclonic airflow for consistent suction
  • Large wheels for easier maneuverability
  • Relatively light-weight
  • Good selection of included accessories makes it very versatile


What we didn't like:

  • Smaller bag than other models so will need to be emptied more frequently
  • Somewhat short cord

Soniclean Soft Carpet Vacuum/Handheld Combo

There are both upright and hand-held models on this list, but if you want both, this combo deal rom Soniclean gives you two vacuums for the same price as most high-quality uprights.

 It’s specifically designed for use with more difficult surfaces, like shag carpeting, while the included hand-held model is perfect for cleaning stairs, curtains, and upholstery.

The Soniclean Soft Carpet Vacuum has an adjustable suction thanks to the unique design of the vent system on the front. You can find the exact right amount of power to clean your carpet most efficiently, with far more precision than most adjustment systems allow. The brush roll is also designed specifically with soft and long carpets in mind. Rather than dislodging dirt with stiff bristles, it pairs soft nylon bristles with a sonic bar that uses vibration to shake the mess loose. This means it can clean even ground-in dirt without getting tangled or damaging your carpet.

The little details are what really set the Sonicare apart from the rest. It’s designed top to bottom with the user’s experience in mind. There’s an indicator light to let you know when the bag is full, for example, and its Jam Protection feature automatically turns the vacuum off if a tangle occurs, potentially saving both your motor and your carpet. It also features wheels built to move well over carpet and a low-profile head to make cleaning under furniture a breeze.

The Sonicare Soft Carpet Vacuum is designed for efficiency. It’s lightweight, easy to maneuver, and uses about half the energy of most uprights. This is accomplished through a mostly plastic construction, which does have a flip side. Some users may feel the vacuum is flimsy, and they are less durable than all-metal models. Provided you’re not too rough with it, though, it will give you a thorough clean of any carpet for many years.


What we like:

  • Package deal makes it a great per-vacuum value
  • Adjustable suction for any carpet length and style
  • Wheels move well on soft surfaces
  • Sonic bar loosens dirt for easier cleaning
  • Nylon bristles and Jam Protection prevent damage to delicate rugs and carpets


What we didn't like:

  • Handheld vacuum not as easy to use as the upright
  • Plastic construction makes it less durable than other models

Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional (NV356E)

Where the Sonicare model above includes both an upright and a canister model, the Lift-Away Pro from Shark gives you both in a single vacuum—and at a fraction of the price. This 2-in-1 option converts from an upright to a hand-held at the push of a button, giving you a lot of versatility for any cleaning situation.

Suction power and maneuverability are the main things you’re looking for in a vacuum for deep carpets, and the Shark Lift-Away delivers on both fronts. The swivel base moves smoothly over carpet of any thickness and has the power to pull dirt out of deep pile floors. There is an adjustment ring for the suction, letting you match it to your carpet style. The blockage indicator light makes sure you know if you’re tangled up on something.

This vacuum has some great options for users with pets. The included Pet Attachment uses a unique suction-powered brush that’s fantastic at lifting pet stains from both carpets and upholstery. It also has superb filtration, with Complete Seal Technology around the bag and a HEPA filter that traps over 99.9% of dust and dander.

At 13.7 pounds, the upright Shark Lift-Away isn’t the most portable option on this list, but the hand-held option gets around that issue. Detaching the canister reduces it to a 7.5 pound load, much easier to carry and use. It also helps the vacuum get into tight spaces it otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. All told, you’ll find the Shark to be an affordable and versatile option that will clean shag carpets and a whole lot more.


What we like:

  • Excellent value
  • Convertible design gives you two vacuums in one
  • Included tools make it perfect for pet owners
  • Complete Seal technology and HEPA filtration for air quality
  • Long power cord (30 feet) gives you more cleaning range


What we didn't like:

  • Leaves more visible tracks after vacuuming than other brands
  • Wand and attachments a bit trickier to use

Another great option for pet owners with deep carpets is this canister model from Kenmore.

Like many options on this list, it uses HEPA filtration to guarantee air cleanliness, but it offers it in a bagless model with an easy to empty canister, saving you money and hassle over other models.

The Kenmore Bagless Canister is easy to use. It’s compact, which helps with carrying it, and has a 360° swivel hose so you can clean everywhere without a lot of hassle. It also has very large wheels on the back of the canister, giving you the option of either carrying it around or rolling it between tasks, whatever’s easier for you.

It’s also very simple to use the included attachments—and it comes with a good array. A single button push is all that’s required to attach and detach any of the tools. It’s arguably the best vacuum for shag carpet if you have pets, largely because of these extra tools. The most impressive of these is the motorized PowerMate attachment that easily sucks pet hair from carpets or furnishings, but there are also a dust/upholstery tool and a crevice tool for getting into tight spaces.

The 24-foot cord isn’t the longest on this list, but it gives you enough reach for a thorough clean, especially when you consider the added length of the hose and telescoping, extendable wand. While the canister design makes it a less efficient option for cleaning an entire house, it’s perfect for getting a deep clean of thick carpets that other vacuums can’t handle.


What we like:

  • Deep clean on all surfaces, from shag carpet to linoleum
  • Telescoping wand on a 360° swivel for easy cleaning
  • Motorized PowerMate Pet Tool ideal for dog and cat owners
  • Retractable cord makes it easy to store
  • Canister empties quickly and easily with no spilling


What we didn't like:

  • Heavier than other models
  • Not the best option for large spaces or entire home cleaning

The Navigator Lift-Away has already made an appearance on this list because of its value and convenience, but for shag carpeting the Shark Rotator deserves a mention, as well.

It’s similar to the Navigator in a lot of ways but has a few more features that make it worth the extra twenty bucks, if you’ve got the space in your budget.

Like the Navigator, the Shark Rotator is a 2-in-1 vacuum that changes at the push of a button from an upright to a canister vacuum. This is excellent for cleaning hard to reach areas or carrying the vacuum around your home. The maneuverability is excellent in both configurations, with swivel steering that lets it navigate easily around furniture.

The Rotator uses a HEPA filter and Shark’s patented Complete Seal technology to make sure everything you vacuum up stays inside. It also comes with a ton of accessories, more than any other options on this list, including a designated powered pet tool and tools for upholstery or car interiors. The other details are just as well thought-out, with a larger capacity and a longer power cable than other Shark models.

If you’re looking for the most powerful vacuum you can get for less than $200, the Shark Rotator is an excellent contender. It is a bit heavy for its size, but the power of the motor easily justifies the weight, and it’s still very easy to use. You’ll be amazed by the way it brings your thick carpet back to life and digs down deep to remove trapped or embedded dust.


What we like:

  • Wide array of included accessories
  • Surprisingly quiet operation
  • Great value
  • Swivel base for easy steering
  • Simple conversion from upright to canister
  • Longer cord and wand for more reach


What we didn't like:

  • Slightly heavy

How to choose

All shag carpet is not created equally. It comes in different piles, different lengths, and can be made of a variety of different materials. Generally speaking, the longer and denser your carpet fibers are, the more of a challenge they’ll present when it comes to cleaning. An extremely high-powered option like the Electrolux Ultra Flex should get the job done nicely for any carpet density.

While you want to get a thorough clean, you also don’t want to destroy your floors in the process. If your carpet is especially old or delicate, the Soniclean Soft Carpet vacuum is a great choice. By using sound waves instead of straight suction power to dislodge dirt, it’s able to get your carpets to the same level of clean without having to worry that it will do any damage.

You should also consider the size of your home. If you need to cover a lot of square footage, the size of the dust bag or canister should be one of your top considerations if you don’t want to have to keep stopping to empty it. A model with a longer cord will let you get a broader area done at once. Also consider a model with a wider cleaning head, so you can make more efficient passes and get the job done in less time.

Homes with shag carpets and pets are an even more challenging proposition. You’ll generally need to clean more often if there are pets in the home than if there aren’t, and that kind of daily use calls for a vacuum cleaner that’s durable as well as efficient and thorough. Going over a dense surface like shag carpet can be rough on a vacuum’s motor, so you want to pick one that’s really built to last, or else you’ll find yourself in the market for a new one again all too soon.

Getting all of these key factors in the same unit does usually mean you’ll need to spend a bit more money. This extra investment does tend to be worth it, though, especially if you’ve been frustrated cleaning with less powerful vacuums in the past. If you’re on a budget, Shark offers a couple very affordable options. Both the Navigator and the Rotator will clean most shag carpets, though they are on the smaller side compared to other options on the list, which could be frustrating if you live in a bigger home.

Speaking of budgets, don’t forget to consider the cost of “consumable” accessories that go along with the vacuum, like replacement filters and extra bags. In most cases, you’ll need to buy these directly from the manufacturer to make sure you get the right fit, meaning you won’t have many options for shopping around. This is one advantage of a canister vacuum. No bags means less to buy, though this often comes with the trade-off of needing to empty the vacuum more frequently.

Because it’s one of the hardest surfaces to clean, the best vacuum for shag carpet is one that earns top marks all around. All of the options on the list above give you the combination of power, maneuverability, and durability you need to clean any surface in your home.

About the Author Jason

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