Best Vacuum For Shag Carpet of 2018 & Buying Guide

Buying a vacuum cleaner is a risky business, especially when you’re buying one for a shag carpet. Every kind of carpet has a different level of thickness and a different density, and they need to be cleaned differently.

Likewise, each vacuum cleaner has a different range of features. Some are good for cleaning thin carpets and wood floors, others are good for deep-cleaning thicker carpets. For a shag carpet, you’re going to need a pretty specific vacuum, because shag carpets like to trap dirt deep and out of sight.







Dyson DC46 Motorhead



Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright



Hoover T-Series WindTunnel Pet Rewind Bagless Upright Vacuum



Oreck LW100


What makes a vacuum good for a shag carpet?

Long haired shag carpets are notorious for providing lots of difficulty for a homeowner who wants to clean them. Particularly, they are known for giving people hoping to vacuum their carpet a rough time. Shag carpets aren’t cheap, so damaging them when you’re cleaning them is the last thing you’re going to want to do.

Don’t be swayed – it’s definitely possible, and quite easy, to clean a shag carpet with a vacuum. You just need to know which kind of vacuum to get. Chances are, the one you have sitting in the closet at home isn’t going to be your best for cleaning a shag carpet.

The size of the wheels

If you’re cleaning a shag carpet, you’re going to want something with big wheels. Having small wheels on your vacuum means that your vacuum is probably going to get stuck in the thick, tangly mat of hair that makes up your carpet.

The power of suction

You’d figure that you’d want to get a vacuum with a huge amount of power that can just suck the dirt right off the carpet. This isn’t the case. If you get a vacuum with too much sucking power, they’ll just get bogged down by inhaling too much of the carpet itself. When this happens, your vacuum is too busy sucking up the carpet to suck the dirt off of it!

A powerful suction also makes it difficult to move the vacuum back and forth. Even if it weren’t getting clogged by carpet hairs, it would take a long, long time to vacuum a whole shag carpet with a powerful rug.

It’s typically recommended that you get a vacuum with a concentrated, sealed suction unit. Don’t get one with a default suction strength that’s too powerful. Variable levels of power are recommended because you can then use the vacuum on your shag carpet and on any other surfaces you need to be vacuumed.

The size and weight

You’re going to want a lightweight vacuum cleaner for cleaning a shag carpet. They’re much easier to move around, which takes a huge amount of effort out of the cleaning process.

  • Don’t get a vacuum with beater bars. These will further create problems with tangling the carpet and making it hard to move the vacuum around.
  • Observe how close the vacuum’s actual cleaning unit comes to the carpet. If it’s too high above the shag carpet then you won’t be able to suction up any dirt. However, if it’s too low, your carpet will risk becoming over-stimulated. This causes the carpet to look fuzzy, frayed, and obviously damaged.
  • Self-propelled vacuums can take a load off your cleaning experience. These models are often designed not to snag on carpets. However, just because a unit is self-propelled doesn’t mean you should buy it without researching its other features first.
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Other features

There are still more things to consider when buying the perfect vacuum for a shag carpet.

Canister or upright vacuum?

It’s a good idea to get a canister vacuum. Not only are they recommended for shag carpets but they’re non-specific, so you’ll be able to use them on other floors in your home. Canister vacuums typically come with a nozzle, a brush or a beater bar, and different attachments.

  • You can use the nozzle and the beater brush on your regular carpets
  • If you take off the nozzle and use a suction attachment, you’ll be better able to clean your shag carpet, as well as hard surfaces
  • If you must get an upright vacuum, get one with an adjustable brush, or a unit that can be lifted far above the carpet.

So which vacuum is the best for a shag carpet?

Now that you understand roughly what you need to get a good cleaning device for your carpet, you’ve got a lot of products to sort through.

Ultimately the decision will boil down to whether or not you’re only cleaning a shag carpet. If you have other types of flooring in your house, you’re going to need a vacuum that can handle more than just shag carpets.

Fortunately, a lot of the models we’ve looked at are great for not only shag carpets, but linoleum, hardwood floors, and even upholstery. Take a look at the following models we’ve reviewed – surely at least one will suit you.

1. Dyson DC 46 Motorhead

Dyson’s DC46 is a whopping good deal and it comes with a whole lot of features that will make your shag carpet cleaning a breeze. It’s also a small model, which is great for both storage and ease of use. The size and weight of the DC 46 make it great to move over carpets of all thickness.

It’s a plug-in model, which is good for shag carpets. They typically take longer to clean than other carpets, and a battery-powered model wouldn’t likely be able to clean the whole carpet.

The Dyson DC comes with a set of durable plastic tools. Some folk claim that they’re ‘cheap,’ but Dyson’s tools are meant to be lightweight, easy to clean, and affordable. Compared to heavy plastic tools, these ones are a pleasure to use.

  • These tools are easily attached and removed, and can be stored without taking too much space.
  • They’re easily cleaned by soaking in a bucket with some warm water and soap, then thoroughly rinsed out and left to dry

The DC 46 comes with a 5 year warranty, which is great – especially when cleaning complicated floors like shag rugs. If you have a bad experience and break the vacuum due to difficulty figuring out your technique, there’s no reason to worry.

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The whole thing is wonderfully controlled by a set of power adjustment buttons on the handle of the vacuum itself. This saves awkward bending over and putting your head near the deafening roar of the vacuum’s motor.

It’s a great vacuum for multiple types of floor too, particularly because of its articulating hard floor tool. This is basically a rotating tool that ensures you can clean hard floors without leaving scuffs, or dirt.


  • Comes with a five-year warranty
  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Great for all sorts of floors
  • Easily cleaned, lightweight tools
  • Has very convenient power adjustment buttons
  • Small model which is great for storage
  • Affordable


  • This unit requires fairly frequent emptying – more so than other competitors
  • Being so lightweight can cause this unit to sometimes tip over
  • The plugin cord is quite short and you might find yourself looking for new outlets

2. Hoover T-Series WindTunnel Pet Rewind Bagless Upright Vacuum

This is a great, convenient vacuum for people cleaning shag carpets.

The first convenient aspect is its 27 foot retractable cord. This saves you from having to find new outlets every ten minutes, and from having to wrap the cord back up.

It has a fold down handle for easy storage, as well as sensors that tell you when parts need to be cleaned or changed. It has an assortment of different plastic tools that can be used for a variety of cleaning processes, and they can be easily washed.


  • Lots of different cleaning tools
  • Retractable 27 foot cord
  • Folds down for easy storage
  • Good suction for cleaning shag carpets


  • Clogs easily
  • Not the most durable

3. Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright (NV356E)

This vacuum is quite similar in function to our first competitor,  the Dyson DC46. The main difference? Price. This one’s a lot more affordable. For those looking to get the most bang for their buck, and get a better-than-average quality vacuum for a great price, this is your best bet.

This vacuum has the capability of very powerful suction, which means it can get even the most deeply ingrained dirt out of your carpets. This means it`s also a great option, not only for carpeted floors, but for hardwood or linoleum.

It`s a swivel-steered unit, which means you won’t have a hard time changing direction when you’re moving about the house. Swivel steering is much more preferable to regular steering, which feels like you have to turn your whole body to move the vacuum. Also, in terms of movement convenience, the cord is 30 feet long. Unless you have a ridiculously massive room to vacuum, you’ll probably be able to cover the whole thing without having to switch outlets.

The Lift-Away feature – this vacuum’s main feature, is pretty cool. It provides a five foot hose that uses the same suction as the whole unit. When using Lift-Away, you can lift up the whole vacuum unit and just use the hose. This allows you to get to those hard-to-reach areas without having a big lunky vacuum in the way.

Another cool feature is the pet hair brush. If you have animals at your home, then you’re surely used to shedding. This unit sucks up pet hair from all sorts of surfaces to save you time and effort.

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  • Pet hair attachment keeps your furry friend’s hair off your furniture and floor
  • Swivel steered for maximum convenient
  • Has a 30 foot cord so you won’t be bouncing from outlet to outlet
  • Has the capability of very powerful suction
  • Can be used to clean multiple types of floor
  • Has a cool Lift-Away feature so you can clean hard to reach areas
  • Comes with a very affordable price tag


  • Awkward to use when not in upright position
  • The hose that most of the detachable tools use is hard and tough to bend

4. Oreck LW100 Magnesium SP Bagged Upright Vacuum

This is a model that’s made to be very lightweight. It works in a different way than other vacuums, which are often chock-full of intense features and machinery, intending to suck the dirt straight out of any surface. This vacuum is different, you may have to roll it over your shag carpet two or three times, but doing so won’t be tedious because of the unit’s incredibly light weight.

That said, that doesn’t limit its use to shag carpets. It’s great for rugs and linoleum as well as hard floors – but the same technique must be applied. There are a couple unique features.

  • The cord is long – 30 feet – to prevent you from having to jump from outlet to outlet
  • There are side brushes that let you clean the side of your room where the walls meet the carpet, or where furniture sits

There are two power settings, low and high. The high setting is best for carpets or hard floors, because it’ll be able to suck immediate dirt off the top quickly. The low setting is best for shag carpets, and requires that you take a more relaxed, wholesome approach to cleaning the shag carpet. After all, slow and steady wins the race.

The vacuum’s light weight comes from a number of innovative design protocols. The base of the vacuum is magnesium, which is fairly lightweight. Whenever possible, the designers replaced any surfaces with cloth to save weight without sacrificing durability.


  • Long cord saves you time switching outlets
  • Side brushes for cleaning the sides of your room
  • Good for cleaning all sorts of carpets, rugs and floors
  • Unique design using a magnesium base makes it very lightweight
  • Has two power settings depending on your cleaning needs
  • Thoroughly cleans shag carpets through a repeated procedure


  • Not a great cleaning device for people in a rush
  • Not a very durable unit that may require frequent repairs

So which is the best?

Purely in terms of cleaning a shag carpet, with reliability and strength, the DC 46 wins this round. It may cost a little bit more than the other models, but it’s extremely reliable, detailed, and easy to use.

If you need a cheaper model consider the Shark Navigator, which shares many of the same features without the same price tag.