Best Vacuum Cleaners for Carpet & Rugs

If you have a lot of carpeted flooring or rugs in your home then it's good to have a vacuum cleaner that is specially suited to carpet cleaning. Of course there are different types of carpet such as plush, shag, berber or frieze and some are more difficult to clean and require more care than others. Regularly using the best vacuum for carpet will ensure it stays clean and prolong its life, whilst also improving the indoor air quality of your home.

In this article we look at 5 of the best vacuum cleaners for carpet recommended by the Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI):

Why you should trust the Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI) when it comes to carpet vacuums

We gave an overview of the CRI and their vacuum cleaner testing program in our article on Vacuum Cleaner Standards and Testing. We consider them a trusted source for independent vacuum cleaner testing on carpets. This is because their Seal of Approval/ Green Label vacuum program provides scientific testing to measure the effectiveness of vacuum cleaners on carpets.

Under this program, manufacturers must meet high performance standards and are rewarded with Bronze, Silver or Gold ratings. These ratings measure vacuum performance on carpet that is divided into 3 categories:

  • Carpet texture protection - The vacuum must not affect the texture of the commercial cut pile carpet more than a one-step change based on one year of normal vacuum use.
  • Carpet soil removal - measurement of the precise amount of soil removed from carpet.
  • Dust containment -  The vacuum must not release more than 100 micrograms of dust particles per cubic meter of air (35 micrograms for Gold Level).

Performance Standards for each level are:

  • Bronze - 40-49% Soil Removal; Dust Containment ≤ 100 µg/m³ of dust particles.
  • Silver - 50-54% Soil Removal; Dust Containment ≤ 100 µg/m³ of dust particles.
  • Gold - ≥ 55% Soil Removal; Dust Containment ≤ 35 µg/m³ of dust particles.
best vacuum for carpet is CRI certified bronze silver or gold

We have reviewed 5 of the best carpet vacuum cleaners that are certified by the CRI with a Gold Level Rating.

The vacuum cleaners on this list may be surprising to you as they are not the usual vacuum brands. For example, Shark's Navigator Professional Lift-Away that we reviewed here (only) received a Silver level certification by the CRI.

The vacuums in this review are specially designed for vacuuming all types of carpets including soft style, shag and berber. You can be certain that these vacuums have been rigorously tested by independent experts to be the best for carpets.

Best Carpet Vacuum Cleaners - CRI Certified Gold Level

Maytag M1200 Upright - best vacuum for carpet and hard floors

The Maytag M1200 Upright is the most expensive vacuum cleaner in this review. However, this American made, bagged vacuum cleaner also offers by far the best overall carpet cleaning performance. The M1200 features the patented MO2OR Dual Intake System, which has 2 separate motors: a clean air motor and a direct air motor. As a result you get continuous suction and maximum agitation for exceptional cleaning performance - not just on carpets but on bare floors as well. In addition, the vacuum features a hose and on-board tools, which you won't find on any of the other CRI Gold Standard vacuums in this review.

This vacuum really is the ultimate cleaning power for your home from floor to ceiling. There are a lot of similarities in features and performance between this vacuum and the highly rated Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog, which we reviewed here. The build quality is on a par with the German engineered Miele vacs, however the fact that Maytag vacuums are made in the US might be a selling point for you.

Best vacuum for carpet - Maytag 1200

FEATURES

  • MO2OR dual intake cleaning system provides strong and continuous suction and agitation.
  • Pet Hair Purr-fect cleaning performance easily picks up pet hair and dander.
  • Six-stage HEPA filtration system including charcoal odor filtration. 
  • Large self sealing dirt bag (4.95 quarts).
  • Simply press a button to transfer between vacuuming carpets and bare floors.
  • 35 ft cord length.
  • 6 to 1 Stretch hose, telescopic wand and 3 on-board tools provide an additional 17ft cleaning radius.
  • Durable build quality with metal brushroll and bottom plate component.
  • LED Headlight.
  • 6 height adjustments.
  • Weight - 21.5lbs.
  • Warranty - 5-yr bumper to bumper, Lifetime on belt.

The M1200 from Maytag is hands down, the most powerful upright vacuum we have ever tested. The bottom line is that in a world of cheaply-made, throw-away appliances we could not be more impressed with the quality and performance of the Maytag M1200 upright vacuum cleaner. allergybuyersclub.com

Allergy Buyers Club

Pros

  • Highly recommended for asthma and allergy sufferers due to the completely sealed HEPA filtration system.
  • Ideal for homes with difficult to remove pet hair due to the Maytag's ultimate cleaning power.
  • Tackles pet hair with ease and doesn't clog up unlike other vacuum brands.
  • Designed and engineered to last a long time, made in the USA.
  • Effortless to use despite its weight. Its ergonimical design means it requires minimal exertion.
  • Lays completely flat for cleaning under furniture.
  • The stretch hose reaches right across the room.

Cons

  • The Maytag M1200 is the heaviest in this Best Vacuum for Carpet review. However its weight is similar to other high performance uprights from brands such as Miele or Dyson.
  • No auto cord rewind.
  • Carpet height adjustment could be easier to use.
  • Ongoing cost of replacement bags

The video below courtesy of The Balancing Act gives a fantastic insight into the features and performance of the Maytag M1200. Furthermore, it's only 4 minutes long and well worth a watch if you are considering buying this vacuum!

Soniclean Soft Carpet Upright - best vacuum for shag carpet and other soft-style carpets

​Soniclean is a vacuum brand that you might not have heard of. This is because, unlike their competitors, the company does not spend millions on advertising. Their German made vacuums feature patented vibration technology that sets them apart from all other vacuums in the marketplace. Furthermore, testing has proven that the Soniclean has more suction and cleans better than the most expensive vacuums on the market today: Dyson, Oreck and Shark*.

The Soniclean Soft Carpet Upright is designed specially for use on shag carpet and other soft style carpets. If you have these styles of carpets you absolutely need a speciality vacuum cleaner and this model has been certified at Gold Level by the trusted Carpet & Rug Institute following rigorous testing. The lightweight design combined with the adjustable vent system makes this vacuum really easy to push on soft, high pile carpets. Furthermore, the patented vibration technology provides for better carpet cleaning than any other vacuum on the market. For these reasons, this is our top choice best vacuum for shag carpet (and other soft styles). 

*Based on LMS 2012 Test Method regarding suction and average cleaning ability for particles 0.2-100 microns in size. Actual results may vary on carpet type and particle size. Dyson DC 41 Multi Floor, Oreck Graphite & Shark Rotator Professional.

Soniclean upright - best vacuum for shag carpet

Features

  • ​Adjustable vent system to allow easy maneuvering on soft style carpet.
  • Designed specifically for use on Soft Style Carpets as well as regular pile and Berber type carpeting.
  • The special soft nylon brush roll bristles clean thoroughly and are extremely gentle on your Soft Style or Berber Carpeting.
  • Extra large front wheels allow the SOFT CARPET vacuum to "float" on the carpet surface for easy maneuverability.
  • Sonic Cleaning Technology - loosens then sucks up ground-in dirt, pet hair and deep-down dust.
  • 7.5 litre HEPA Filter dust bag, designed to last 6-8 weeks, depending on your vacuuming needs.
  • 2 separate modes for cleaning.
  • 35ft power cord with quick release cord holder.
  • 5.2 amps motor & green technology - uses 50% less electricity than many full sized vacuums.
  • Weight 8lbs.
  • 5 year motor warranty and 1 year parts warranty. Lifetime warranty on vacuum belt.

Soniclean may be the best vacuum you've never heard of. allergybuyersclub.com

Allergy Buyers Club

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to push on soft thick carpet.
  • Strong suction and sonic vibrations provide deep cleaning of carpets.
  • best vacuum for name-brand soft style carpets such as Caress®, SmartStrand®, Silk®, and Soft Spring®.

Cons

Oreck LW100 Magnesium SP Bagged Upright - best lightweight vacuum for carpet

Oreck is a long established vacuum cleaner brand with a reputation for providing easy-to-use, lightweight, powerful and durable vacuums. This is one of the lightest, full-powered upright vacuum cleaners available today.

The Oreck LW100 Magnesium features two speed control, which means it is great for different carpets. Using this feature you can easily switch to go gentler on your more delicate carpet types such as oriental or persian rugs. The patented Saniseal system also ensures that changing bags is effortless. In addition this CRI Gold Level certified vacuum comes with a 7 year warranty!

Oreck Magnesium - best vacuum for carpet

Features

    • ​Ultra-lightweight Magnesium SP vacuum frame is stronger than many types of steel.
    • Two speeds - high speed great for carpets and low speed gentler for oriental and persian rugs.
    • HEPA Inner Bag captures at least 99.97% of particles at .3 microns from the air passing through it, including pollen, mold, dust and animal dander.
    • Large wheels enable super maneuverability on carpet
    • 30ft manual wind cord
    • Longlasting Endurolife belt
    • Saniseal bag disposal system - automatically seals shut and locks in dirt
    • Side brushes make cleaning up against baseboards and edges easy.
    • 5.5 amps motor and direct suction
    • Weight approximately 7.7lbs
    • 7 year limited warranty and 3 annual tune ups.

PROS

    • Amazingly lightweight & self-propelled - makes for effortless carpet cleaning.
    • great at picking up dirt and pet fur on all piles of carpet, oriental rugs and hard floors.
    • lays virtually flat for easy cleaning under furniture.
    • bag seals itself so there is no mess - good for allergy sufferers.
    • automatically shuts off if something gets stuck.
    • specifically suited to Mohawk SmartStrand Silk carpet.

CONS

  • Vacuum has no attachments
  • No auto cord rewind
  • Ongoing cost of replacement bags
Panasonic MC-CL945 Plush Pro Bagless - best canister vacuum for carpet
Panasonic MC-CL945 - best vacuum for carpet

Whereas some of the best upright vacuums for carpet in this review lack some features such as retractable cord and tools and accessories, the Panasonic Plush Pro is feature and accessory rich. 

In addition, this vacuum is highly rated by users as providing the best deep clean of carpets of any canister vacuum. The CRI gold level certification backs this up.

From short-pile area rugs to the plushest carpets the Air Infusion technology in the power nozzle provides the best deep cleaning. Lightweight and easy to carry, this quiet, compact and powerful vacuum is the ideal cleaning system for your floors and carpets.

Features​

  • JetForce™ Technology cyclonic suction provides powerful cleaning of carpet.
  • Powerful 12 amp motor.
  • HEPA filtration traps millions of micro particles and eliminates harmful allergens, irritants and pollutants.
  • Bagless design provides hassle free emptying of the detatchable dirt container.
  • Air Infusion power vacuum nozzle provides deep cleaning of all carpet types (including super soft).
  • Good 360° maneurverability with JetTurn radius design.
  • Gliding pet brush provides easy removal of pet hair from furniture, carpets and floors.
  • Retractable cord for quick and easy storage.
  • ​24ft power cord.
  • 1 year parts and labour warranty.

This Panasonic commercial for the Plush Pro gives an overview of the canister's features and included accessories:

It picks up dog hair very well. Having a German Shepherd (really German Shedder), this is a major plus for us. If it can handle a shepherd's fur, it can handle any and we got up fur that we couldn't even see. Can't do better than that!

All I can say is "Wow!" Went over carpeting I had vacuumed a week earlier with the old Miele and could not believe the additional dirt/dust the Panasonic picked up! I ended up re-vacuuming the entire house to get it "Panasonic clean."

User feedback - Panasonic website
Date: 14 November & 14 December 2015

Pros

  • Power nozzle is easy to push on deep pile carpet.
  • There is a convenient pedal on the power nozzle quickly that lowers the nozzle height for optimum cleaning power on hardwood, laminates and other bare floor surfaces.
  • Great at removing pet hair from floors and furniture and deep cleaning carpet.
  • light, quiet, compact and easy to maneuver.
  • No ongoing costs of buying replacement bags.

Cons

  • Best for homes with shag carpet or other carpet types rather than homes with all hard floors as there is no hard floor brush included (can be bought separately).
  • LED light on the beater brush could be brighter and light the floor up better.
  • Only 1 year warranty.
Soniclean VTplus VTU-0520 - best cheap vacuum for carpet

The Soniclean VTplus is the cheapest cleaner of our Best Vacuum for Carpet reviews. Like the more expensive Soniclean Soft Carpet Upright it features "sonic-cleaning technology," which involves a bar adjacent to the brushroll that vibrates 200 times per second. It also uses the same high efficiency, direct-air paramagnetic motor which creates very strong suction for less than half the electricity of some full-size vacuums.

In addition the VTplus is also really lightweight, although not quite as light as the Oreck LW100 reviewed above.

Although it lacks some of the more luxury finishes of the Soniclean Soft Carpet such as the larger front wheels and the adjustable vent system, the performance of this vacuum on carpets is highly rated. It's suction is as good as the more expensive brands such as Dyson, Shark and Oreck, which was also confirmed in Cnet's tests. As a result it is a great option if you're on a budget. However, as with the more expensive Soniclean Soft Clean, the main drawback with this model is the lack of hose and attachments.

best vacuum for shag carpets - soniclean vtplus

  • ​Extreme lightweight design makes for beyond-easy handling.
  • Lays flat to the floor for easy cleaning under chairs, tables, and beds.
  • Sonic Cleaning Technology - loosens then sucks up ground-in dirt, pet hair and deep-down dust.
  • Freshen while you clean! Includes patented Sonicfresh® fragrance dispensing system.
  • Built for power and durability. The direct-air Paramagnetic motor offers superior suction and consistent results.
  • Seal-Tech® HEPA filter bags provide 99.97% filtration at 0.3 microns and are long lasting.
  • 2 separate modes for cleaning.
  • 35ft power cord with quick release cord holder.
  • 5.2 amps motor & green technology - uses 50% less electricity than many full sized vacuums.
  • weight 10.5lbs (excluding cord).
  • 3 year motor warranty and 1 year parts warranty. Lifetime warranty on vacuum belt.

Pros

  • Very lightweight & glides easily over carpets.
  • Powerful suction.
  • Automatically shuts off if something gets stuck.
  • Does a great job on my carpeting, but also cleans hard floors.
  • Low profile gets under most furniture.
  • Best carpet vacuum cleaner in this price category.

Cons

  • Vacuum has no attachments.
  • No auto cord rewind.
  • Some users have rated it as noisy.
  • Non-pivoting neck - the vacuum only tilts straight up and down
  • Ongoing cost of replacement bags

Conclusion

The 5 best vacuum cleaners for carpet that we've reviewed in this article have all been tested by the Carpet & Rug Institute to meet high standards of cleaning performance on carpet​. They will also preserve the texture and appearance of the carpet. Four of the five vacuums we've reviewed are bagged uprights and only one is a bagless canister vacuum.

The Panasonic Plush Pro Canister is the best vacuum for plush carpet if a canister is the right type of vacuum for you. It has the added advantage of different tools and accessories for cleaning furniture and above floors. It is also bagless and has a retractable cord, which the uprights lack. 

​If you prefer an upright to a canister then the performance of the Maytag M1200 Upright makes this vacuum stand out from the rest. However if the price tag is prohibitive and you want something lighter that is simply high performing on carpets either the Soniclean Soft Carpet or the Oreck Magnesium are great options. Both have strong suction to provide a deep clean of your carpet, long warranties and are extremely lightweight and easy to maneuver.

Finally, if you are looking for a great no frills vacuum​ that is designed specifically for being great on carpets and that won't break the bank, the Soniclean VTplus could be the right option for you.