High Carpet vs Low Carpet Vacuum

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Are you confused about the differences between high carpet and low carpet vacuums? You're not alone! 

We get asked all the time which vacuums are best for high pile or low pile carpet. Our answer is always the same - there are many things to consider when making a selection! 

This article covers the differences to look for in high carpet vs low carpet vacuums. Whether you have high pile shag or low pile berber carpet, or a mix of each, we'll delve into the vacuum features to look out for. 

High Carpet vs Low Carpet Vacuum

So firstly we’ll look at the key differences between high carpet and low carpet vacuums to look out for. We’ll then consider some specific models that have these features. Of course, some vacuum cleaners are suitable for both high and low pile carpets so no worries if you have both types.

High Pile Carpet Vacuum Features

High Carpet Vacuum

 Also known as the "Hairy Beast Tamer," a high pile carpet vacuum is designed specifically to handle the 'Bigfoot' of carpets. If you've got a shag carpet that looks like it could be a cousin of Chewbacca, you'll need this bad boy.

  1. Adjustable Height Settings: This vacuum knows that one size doesn't fit all, especially when it comes to the jungle-like high pile carpet. With its adjustable height, it adapts like a chameleon to ensure it gets to the nitty-gritty without damaging the delicate fibers.
  2. Large Wheels: Equipped with larger wheels, this vacuum navigates the soft, dense carpet landscape with ease, making it seem more like a Sunday stroll in the park than a cleaning chore.
  3. Powerful Suction: This vacuum is no pushover. With strong suction, it doesn’t shy away from making sure your carpet is as clean as it can be, leaving no dirt or debris safe.
  4. Gentle Brushroll: Despite its strong suction power, it knows when to be gentle. Its brushroll takes care not to rough up the long carpet fibers, like a hairbrush designed to detangle without causing any damage.

For more information, check out our deep dive into the best vacuums for high pile carpets! We cover the features in more detail and review the best vacuum options.

Furthermore, we also reviewed some top models for high pile carpets in our best vacuum for carpets article some time ago. We update our articles regularly and this is still relevant as many of the vacuums we reviewed achieved a Gold standard by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI).  

High Carpet Vacuum Models

TITLE_Soniclean Soft Carpet Upright Vacuum Cleaner

Our top pick for high pile carpets is the Soniclean Soft Carpet Upright Vacuum Cleaner. We reviewed this in both the articles referred to above so check that out for more details on why we think this is the top choice. 

In summary, it is specifically designed to clean soft style carpets. It has large front wheels, adjustable vent system for easy maneuverability, and sonic cleaning technology that vibrates to dislodge embedded dirt.

If you prefer canisters, one of our favorite vacuum brands is Miele and they have a model that is specially designed for high pile carpets: the Miele Complete C3 Vacuum for Soft Carpet

TITLE_Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet

This is a top-end model so is more expensive than the Soniclean that offers exceptional cleaning performance. It has a height-adjustable electrobrush with soft bristles, an adjustable suction power, and a HEPA filter for allergen removal.

Low Pile Carpet Vacuum Features

Vacuum for Low Pile Carpet: Now let's talk about the vacuum designed for low pile carpets, the smaller sibling in the vacuum family.

  1. Closer Cleaning Head: This vacuum likes to keep things close to the ground. It gets down to the level of the carpet for a more intimate, effective clean.
  2. Smaller Wheels: It doesn't need the large wheels its cousin boasts. With its smaller wheels, it's agile, ready to zip around on the less plush terrain of a low pile carpet.
  3. Stiffer Brushroll: This vacuum is a little more assertive with its stiffer brushroll. It gives your carpet a good shake-up to loosen any clinging dirt, like a personal trainer making sure every dust particle is up and moving.
  4. Less Powerful Suction Required: This vacuum is all about working smarter, not harder. It knows that low pile carpet doesn't require the same level of suction as high pile, and it uses just enough power to get the job done efficiently.

You have a lot more choice when it comes to selecting a specific model for low pile carpet because they are easier to clean without any issues. Please check out our Ultimate Vacuum Buying Guide and familiarize yourself with the types, features and options available along with other pre-purchase considerations.

For fully carpeted homes we recommend upright vacuum cleaners because they all come with agitating brush rolls/ beater bars to provide a deep clean. Here are two good options for low pile carpet:

  1. Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional NV356E: The Shark Navigator has a brushroll shutoff feature which is perfect for low pile carpets and bare floors. Its lift-away function is also handy for above-floor cleaning. One of our picks for the best vacuums under $200
  2. Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 Upright Vacuum Cleaner: Dyson's self-adjusting cleaner head adapts to all floor types, but it's particularly great on low pile carpets. Its radial root cyclone technology captures more microscopic dust. 

TITLE_Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional NV356E

TITLE_Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 Upright Vacuum Cleaner

Furthermore, cordless vacuums can be a good option for low pile carpets. However we would suggest that you stick with the top end models such as those from Dyson or Shark if you have low pile carpets throughout. Carpets provide the most load on the batteries for cordless vacuums and runtimes will reduce significantly compared to hard floors. So you need to consider the size of your home as part of the assessment before opting for a cordless.

Remember, in the end, whether you're dealing with a high pile or low pile carpet, the key to your vacuum's performance is regular maintenance, kind of like keeping the tires on your car in check!

Vacuums for high and low pile carpets

TITLE_Shark Apex DuoClean

A versatile vacuum that can handle both high pile and low pile carpets is a great investment, especially if you have a mix of different carpet types in your home. Here's what you should look for:

  1. Adjustable Height Settings: This is a must-have feature, as it allows you to change the height of the vacuum's cleaning head based on the pile of the carpet. Higher settings for high pile carpets allow the vacuum to glide easily without getting stuck or damaging the fibers, and lower settings for low pile carpets ensure effective cleaning close to the surface.
  2. Adjustable Suction Control: While a powerful suction is always desirable, it's even better if you can adjust it. Lower suction can be used for delicate, high pile carpets to avoid damaging the fibers, while more robust suction is perfect for low pile carpets.
  3. Switch for Turning Off Brushroll: This feature is beneficial if you have both carpeted and non-carpeted floors in your home. The ability to switch off the beater bar can prevent scratches on hard floors, while it's needed for dislodging dirt in carpets.
  4. A Good Quality Brushroll: For a vacuum to be effective on both low pile and high pile carpets, it needs to have a good quality brushroll. Ideally, it should be gentle enough not to harm high pile carpets but sturdy enough to effectively clean low pile carpets. 
  5. Versatile Attachments: Attachments like a crevice tool for tight spots, a dusting brush for gentle cleaning, and an upholstery tool for furniture can add to the vacuum's versatility, helping you clean more than just your carpets.

Remember, while these features make a vacuum more versatile, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. It's important to consider your specific needs.

In addition to the types of carpet and other flooring in your home, whether you have pets or allergies is a key factor. Regular maintenance will also keep your vacuum performing at its best, no matter what type of carpet you're cleaning!

Here are two alternative vacuum cleaners that can work well with both low and high pile carpets:

  1. Sebo Automatic X7 Premium Upright Vacuum: Sebo vacuums are another of our favorite brands here at Home Vacuum Zone. Sebo's Automatic X7 upright vacuum features an electronic controller that adjusts the power head to the appropriate height for the carpet pile, making it a good option for homes with various carpet heights. It also has a manual height adjustment for tricky areas.
  2. Shark APEX DuoClean with Zero-M Anti-Hair Wrap Technology: This our top choice of vacuum for long hair pickup because it includes DuoClean Technology, a dual-brushroll system designed to deep-clean carpets and provide a polished look to hard floors. It's also equipped with Zero-M technology to combat hair wrap issues, and the Powered Lift-Away feature offers versatile cleaning options.B07FX5PCMN


Embarking on the carpet cleaning journey requires the right vacuum sidekick. For high pile carpets, look for a vacuum with adjustable height settings, large wheels, powerful suction, and a gentle brushroll. These vacuums need to navigate the 'carpet jungle' with care, yet efficiently pull out hidden dirt.

On the smoother terrains of low pile carpets, a vacuum with a close cleaning head, smaller wheels, a stiffer brushroll, and moderate suction power reigns supreme. This vacuum isn't afraid to get close and tackle dirt in tighter spaces.

In homes where both high and low pile carpets coexist, a versatile, adjustable vacuum is the hero. With a knack for adapting, it can deliver a thorough clean, regardless of pile height.

Remember, a bit of regular vacuum maintenance goes a long way in keeping your carpets pristine. After all, the key to a clean home is a well-vacuumed carpet.

Last update on 2024-06-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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