Best Vacuum for Shag, Frieze and Thick Loop Carpets

Thick, plush carpets are a great addition to your home. They add a sense of luxury. Yet, keep a homey feel. As beautiful as they are, they’re also hard to clean and maintain. This is where the best vacuum for shag and thick carpets come in.

The key to cleaning these kinds of carpeting is to be able to pull out all the dust and debris without damaging the lovely fibers.

Because of their delicate nature, not all vacuum cleaners are well-suited for thick, plush carpets like frieze and shag.

In this guide, we explain what kind of cleaners you should and shouldn’t use. Then, show you which products offer the best performance without damaging your lovely rugs and carpets.


Our Picks: Top Options for Shag, Frieze and Other Thick Carpets


What is a Shag Carpet?

A shag carpet is a high pile carpet. In contrast to low pile carpeting, it comes with taller and looser fabric loops. This is what gives it its shaggy appearance.

Shag carpets give you home a distinct luxurious look. They also exude a cozy atmosphere. Their construction gives them a full, fluffy feel. Plus, they’re warmer and more comfortable to sit or lie on. The long and loose design also keeps them from flattening out over time.

Shag carpets are similar to frieze carpets. But, they do have longer piles. Both are cut pile carpets. This means the carpets are made by cutting the yarn loops. This is what gives it an upright pile instead of looking flat. It also makes them look more stylish and luxurious.

Shag carpets aren’t dense. This makes the fibers more delicate. Along with the fact that it’s pricey means that you’ll need to take better care of it.


Pros & Cons of Shag Carpets

As with all types of floors, shag carpets along with other high pile carpeting have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are some things to know about your carpet.


  • They’re beautiful and bring a sense of luxury to your home.
  • Shag rugs and carpets are comfortable and warm to sit or lie on.


  • They’re pricey. It is expensive to manufacture them which means they also cost more.
  • Their long strands can unravel, fray or shed. This is one reason why shag carpets aren’t best suited for homes with pets and kids running around.
  • Its high pile trap and store a lot of dirt, dander and allergens. This is something that’s true with thick, dense and high pile carpets. The more fabric there is, the more dirt can get trapped.
  • Shag carpets can stain. This is true for all rugs and carpets. But, because their fibers are thin and long, they’re also more difficult to clean.

Choosing the Best Vacuum for Shag, Frieze, and Thick Loop Carpets: Buying Guide

When it comes to buying a vacuum for shag carpets as well as other high pile carpets, there are a few things to keep in mind. The higher pile means that you have longer strands of fabric. In some cases like shag, they’re not bound as tight. This makes them more delicate and prone to damage.

Here are the important features to consider when choosing a vacuum for your shag carpet.

1. Pick One with Adjustable Height

Shag and other high pile carpeting have long loops. This means you’ll need a vacuum that has an adjustable head. This allows you to bring up the head high enough to clear the carpet’s fabric.

Unlike low pile carpets that are twisted tightly together, running your vacuum through longer strands increases the risk of pulling and damaging them. This can cause shedding or fraying.

Many upright vacuums come with adjustable height settings. The higher pile your carpet is, the higher the clearance you’ll want.

When vacuuming, set the height just above your carpet. This is where the vacuum slightly touches its surface. Placing the vacuum head too high reduces its suction and effectivity. Setting the head too low meanwhile, makes the edges of the vacuum scrape the fabric as you push it around.

2. Brush Roll/Beater Bar On/Off Switch

In the same manner, what’s helpful with low pile carpet vacuuming doesn’t hold true for high pile carpets. Leaving your vacuum’s brush running on your shag carpet is one way of getting them all tangled in the machine.

Worse, you’ll end up pulling out a lot of the fabric and destroying its stylish look.

For this reason it is important to be able to turn off the brush roll when vacuuming shag or other high pile carpets.

Using a suction only vacuum is another option. But, there are very few high quality models that fall under that category.

Another option is to use the hose on your vacuum without its head. This allows you to do suction only vacuuming. The downside is it will take more time to cover the entire rug or carpet.

3. Good Suction Power

With vacuums, strong suction is often a result of two main factors.

  • The motor’s power.
  • The vacuum’s airflow efficiency. This refers to its design and ability to let air travel as smoothly as possible. It also includes the ability to prevent dust and other particles from clogging or blocking the air flow passages.

Carpets are more difficult to vacuum because dirt and debris can get stuck deep in the fabric. This is why many vacuums come with brush roll mechanisms. The brushes spin at high speeds to agitate and loosen stubborn debris. This makes it easier for the suction to pick them up.

Because you can’t use the brush roll on shag and other high pile carpet for risk of damaging them, strong suction is key. You’ll rely on it pull out whatever dirt that’s stuck in your carpet.

4. Adjustable Suction Power

One problem with suction power is there’s such thing as too much. This is true with long pile carpeting. Too much suction makes the vacuum ‘stick’ to the fabric.

As such, being able to adjust the suction strength settings is a great option to have. Many high quality vacuums, including those by Miele offer 5 to 6 suction strength settings. This will let you adjust the suction to the one that works best.

5. Large Wheels

Another issue long pile carpets have that short pile don’t is mobility. This is true for your vacuum. Pushing your cleaner though the thick tangles restricts movement.

This is where large wheels come in. The larger the wheels on your vacuum, the easier it is to move and turn the machine.

6. HEPA Filtration

High pile carpets because of their deep pile, tend to trap a lot of dirt. This includes pet dander and small debris. Along with them allergens and other contaminants.

For this reason, you’ll need a vacuum with a good filtration system. HEPA filters are ideal because they trap 99.9% of the smallest particles. This prevents anything that’s sucked in by the vacuum from escaping back into your home.

6. Lightweight

Because the fabric loops are long and thin, shag carpets are more delicate. This means pushing and rolling heavy objects on it can be risky.

This makes lighter vacuums a better option. Going with something that weighs 20 pounds poses a few issues.

  • One, it’s heavier. That adds to mobility problems that high pile carpets already have.
  • Second, the heavier the object that slides across the carpet, the higher the risk of pulling or harming the rug.


Best Vacuum for Shag, Frieze, and Thick Loop Carpets Reviews

Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet

The Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet is especially designed for soft and plush carpets and rugs. It cleans the deepest piles gently so your carpet’s fibers aren’t damage.

The ability to do so starts with the motor. In addition to Miele’s usual 6 speed suction settings, there’s an extra selection. This one if the SoftCarpet power setting.

You’ll want to use this setting on delicate carpets like shag, frieze and other high pile, thick carpets. This ensures that the strands don’t get caught or tangled up.

With soft, high pile carpets, vacuuming can get tough. You want high end power to get dirt and other particles stuck deep in the fibers. Yet, want it to be gentle so you don’t damage the fibers. This is what the C3 Soft Carpet does with the new power setting.

This bagged canister vacuum runs on a powerful 1,200 watt Vortex motor. This gives it exceptional power. The suction setting on the canister’s body, is a nice addition because it lets you control suction. Use too strong and your vacuum head gets stuck on the carpet, potentially damaging the fibers. Too weak a suction meanwhile, means very little dirt pick up.

In addition to the powerful suction and Soft Carpet setting, the unit comes with 12 stages of filtration include HEPA filtration. It also produces low noise levels which isn’t always the case with powerful vacuums.

Overall, we like the Miele C3 Soft Carpet for its overall ability. It works great on different height carpets. And, will take care of soft delicate carpets. The unit performs well on hardwood as well thanks to the floor attachments included.

Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional NV356E

This is a 2 in 1 vacuum cleaner. It gives you the benefit of both an upright and canister vacuum.

This feature is especially useful with delicate plush carpets like shag. It lets you use the upright vacuum on bare floors. Then, use the canister vacuum module for your shag and high pile carpeting.

You may use the upright vacuum part of the device on soft and plush carpets depending on the situation. The vacuum’s brush can be turned off, though you’ll want to judge the height of the carpet against the vacuum’s head.

With canister mode, this is less of a problem. You can use it as suction only. The Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional’s high suction power lets you clean deep into the fibers this way.

We like this product for its all-around ability. It works on carpets as well as hard floors. The lift-away canister also makes it easy to clean stairs and when you need it, delicate surfaces like shag rugs.

It relatively lightweight at under 14 pounds. Plus, it has good filtration. The HEPA system and anti-allergen feature help keep the air in your home cleaner.

brush roll for agitating + height adjust

Hoover T-Series WindTunnel Pet Rewind UH70210

For a more affordable choice, Hoover’s WindTunnel Pet Rewind is a good choice. It doesn’t perform as well as the two above in our reviews, but it does a good job nevertheless.

This model is designed for all-around home cleaning. It is especially geared towards pet owners who want to clean their homes from pet hair. With the Hoover UH70210, you get a heftier device at 18 pounds.

When using it on shag and other high pile or soft carpets, you’ll want to do a couple of things.

  • One, is to turn the brush off. This stops it from spinning. As such, it prevents any carpet fibers from getting stuck in the brush.
  • Second, adjust the vacuum’s head height to the right level. This Hoover bagless upright has 5 height settings.

In addition to these features, this device comes with an extension hose. The hose lets you vacuum stairs and furniture more conveniently.

Overall, this Hoover vacuum cleaner brings good suction power. It works well on bare floors and different types of carpets thanks to its brush on/off feature and height adjustment ability.

We also like that it is very affordable.


Cleaning & Caring For Shag Carpets

Here’s a list of steps you can follow when vacuuming your shag carpets.

1. Vacuum your shag carpet (or any high pile carpet) regularly.

If it doesn’t get much foot traffic, once a week is a good start. If people go through it a lot, or you have kids and pets running on it, you’ll need to vacuum a few times a week.

2. Remove any furniture that’s on the carpet.

This makes is easier to thoroughly vacuum your rug or carpet without having to go around tables and other furniture.

3. Before beginning, check your vacuum to make sure it has the proper settings.

• Adjust the head to the appropriate height. This is around the level where the head slightly touches the top of the carpet.
• Turn the brush roller off. You’ll want to use suction only for shag and other high pile carpeting.
• Switch the machine to the proper suction setting if your machine offers this.

4. Vacuum the carpet.

To be methodical, you can start from one end of the carpet and work your way to the other end. You’ll want to vacuum slowly and thoroughly since there’s likely a good amount of dirt and debris stuck in the bottom.

Dirt that’s left within the carpet tends to break down. Eventually, this damages your carpet as well.

5. Clean the rug or carpet’s underside.

If you can flip the rug or carpet over, it is a good idea to clean the opposite side as well. This isn’t always an option for all carpets. Vacuuming this side once a month helps clean out the carpet.

On this side, you can use the brush roll. It will make your work much easier and take out more dirt.

6. Return the furniture back to where you moved them from.

If you prefer watching to reading, here’s a video that demonstrates how to vacuum carpets and rugs, including shag carpets at the 4:09 mark in the video.