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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 33 Models Considered
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  • 320 Consumers Consulted
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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best vacuums for hardwood floors

    Last Updated November 2018

    The floors in many homes were once covered wall to wall with carpeting, and vacuums were designed to suck out all the dust and debris hidden in the fibers. However, features useful for freshening up rugs and carpets are useless on hard floors. Worse, some carpet-specific vacuum components can damage delicate hardwood floors. That doesn’t mean you can’t vacuum hardwood. It’s perfectly safe as long as you choose an appropriate vacuum cleaner for the job.

    BestReviews wants to help you find the right vacuum so you can keep your hardwood floors clean and shiny. The right vacuum should suck up nearly every speck of dirt, be easy to empty, and not leave nicks and scratches in the wood.

    Our shopping guide examines the unique needs of wood flooring, your vacuum options for wood surfaces, and tips to help keep your floors looking sharp.

    Choose the right size vacuum. Make sure you have enough storage space to hide it away.

    Unique needs of hardwood floors

    Hardwood looks lovely, clean, and modern. It’s a versatile flooring option that’s perfect for a variety of interior styles, but it comes with its own unique challenges that require a particular type of vacuum.

    Avoid vacuums with brush rollers. Hardwood scratches easily, so it’s best to avoid vacuums with brush rollers to prevent damage. Rollers with thick bristles are designed to scrape up dust sitting deep inside carpets, but you don’t need a brush to pick up dirt on hardwood. It’s tough for debris to hide on hardwood, so a sturdy roller brush isn’t necessary.

    Look for vacuums with powerful suction. Dust settles easily into the nooks and crannies of hardwood floors. Without a brush to help scoop up particles, suction is the primary way debris gets from your floor into the vacuum. You need a vacuum with powerful suction to make sure everything gets picked up. Fortunately, it’s easier to spot dirt on hardwood floors, so targeting messy spots is no trouble at all.

    Smart vacuum for busy homeowners

    Set it and forget it for clean floors. Just make sure to clear your home of obstacles because little will stand in the way of this powerful little robot. It’s a helpful cleaning aid for anyone too busy to regularly bust out the full-size vac. Featuring accurate sensors that keep it from tumbling down stairs or crashing into furniture, this is a smart, quiet, compact dynamo.

    Types of vacuums for hardwood floors

    Canister and upright vacuums are excellent choices for cleaning hardwood floors because they offer powerful suction action and often come with attachments. The next best thing? Robotic vacuums. These are great for daily sweeps and keeping your home tidy between more thorough vacuuming jobs. Lightweight stick vacuums aren’t as powerful as other types but will do the trick for light cleaning jobs.

    Upright vacuums: These stand on their own, so you can use attachments and pause to dust without having to worry about your vacuum tipping over. Upright vacuums are heavier than other types but usually have the strongest suction. Avoid models with permanently attached hard bristle brushes that can scratch your floor.

    Canister vacuums: These have a hose attached to a big canister. Canister vacuums have good suction power but aren’t the best choice for multi-level homes. Avoid models with plastic or metal wheels that can damage wood flooring.

    Stick vacuums: These are skinny versions of upright vacuums. Typically cordless and lightweight, stick vacuums are great for small jobs and tight spaces but not usually designed for use on carpet. If you have several types of flooring in your home choose a model that comes with the appropriate attachments.

    Robotic vacuums: These do all the hard work for you, but the canisters aren’t as big as those on other vacuum types, and the battery life is highly variable depending on the model you choose. Robotic vacuums can also get stuck, some models more than others. If you have carpets or rugs in your home, keep in mind that not all robotic vacuums are capable of cleaning them. These are great for homes with pets that shed a lot, and some models can also sweep and mop hardwood floors.

    EXPERT TIP

    You probably don’t want to schedule your robotic vacuum to work at night while you’re sleeping. Many robot models beep repeatedly when stuck.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Not all vacuums with a roller brush should be crossed off your list. Do the bristles touch the ground? If not, it’s unlikely the brush will damage your hardwood floor.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Vacuuming factors to consider

    Consider the following when shopping for a vacuum that can efficiently sweep the dust and dirt off your hardwood floors.

    Flooring

    You’ll need to be more careful in selecting a vacuum model if your home has floors of soft uncoated wood. Delicate floors? Opt for a lighter vacuum. Pets already wreaking havoc on your hardwood? Limit further damage by choosing a vacuum without a brush. Do you also have carpeting in your home? Choose a versatile unit that can do a good job on either surface.

    Pets

    Roller brushes aren't the most effective tool for picking up pet hair. Hair gets tangled up in the bristles and is hard to extract. If you’re looking for a hardwood-compatible model, you’ll want to avoid thick bristle brushes that may damage your flooring. Homeowners with pets should look for a vacuum with powerful suction to ensure all that the fluff gets picked up.

    Weight

    A lighter vacuum is easier to carry around the home. If you’re climbing a flight of stairs each time you vacuum, choose a model that you can comfortably tote. A heavy vacuum could also leave marks on your wood floors if it’s dropped.

    Canister size

    This is important regardless of flooring type. How much dirt does it hold? Will you need to empty it frequently? Robotic vacuums are great for regular cleanups, but the canisters are small. If you have a large home filled with kids and shedding pets, an upright holds more debris at once. You’ll pick up just as much dirt on hardwood as you might on carpets, so choose a vacuum with a decent canister size.

    Noise

    Carpeting dampens sound better than hardwood. If you’re worried about making a racket when passing your vacuum over your hardwood floors, choose a cordless model. These are usually quieter, but keep in mind that cordless vacuums might not provide as much suction as other types.

    Wheels

    Avoid wheels made of metal or plastic. They’ll scratch up your hardwood floors, especially when those wheels are attached to a heavy vacuum. Rubber is gentler on hardwood.

    A cordless vacuum is convenient for quickly moving from room to room without having to unplug and replug a cord. Check the battery life to make sure it will be up to the task of vacuuming your home on a single charge.

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Vacuum features to consider

    You don't need a device with many special functions to vacuum hardwood floors. Here are the main features to look for as you shop.

    Attachments

    For cleaning hardwood, crevice tools are the most useful for reaching dirt trapped under furniture or in awkward places your vacuum can’t reach. You don’t need a brush attachment unless your home has carpet in addition to hardwood. If you do have carpet, choose a vacuum with a detachable roller brush or a model that comes with a brush attachment.

    Adjustability

    If your home has different types of flooring, look for a vacuum with adjustable height. High-pile carpeting requires a bigger gap between the vacuum and floor, but on hardwood too big a gap can reduce suction.

    Mop and sweep

    Some robotic vacuums have additional functions, such as mopping and sweeping. These are great extra features for cleaning hardwood floors.

    Affordable, lightweight option for pet owners

    Pet hair begone with this Bissell stick vac! It’s great at picking up everything from dander to kibble. The unique V-shape enables it to effortlessly grab dust hiding around furniture legs and in tight corners. Lightweight, easy to maneuver, and the price is right, too!

    Tips

    • Have a “no shoe” rule. Don’t wear sneakers, clogs, or boots in the home. You wouldn’t believe the amount of dirt that’s tracked in on footwear. Keep your floors cleaner by removing your shoes and asking guests to do the same. Use a doormat, too.

    • Vacuum often. If you don’t have time to vacuum, choose a robotic model that can run every day and help you keep floors free of dust and pet hair.

    • If you see dirt, clean it up. Mud, spilled drinks, and water will damage your hardwood floors if left to dry. Wipe up and dry the mess right away.

    • Use floor protectors. Put felt or rubber protectors under your furniture to prevent scratches on the hardwood floor.

    • Don’t use a steam cleaner on hardwood. The steam from these mops can cause dirt to settle in cracks and crevices ruining the sleek look of your hardwood floors.

    • Bust out the mop. Mop after vacuuming and don’t overspray the surface, it should dry quickly.

    Vacuum prices

    The cost of a vacuum for hardwood floors depends on the type of vacuum, how powerful it is, and its array of features. Depending on how advanced the unit is, expect to pay from less than $150 to $800.

    A lightweight cordless stick vacuum is easy to find for under $150, while powerful upright models may cost well over $300 and robotic vacuums as much as $800.

    Before running a robotic vacuum over hardwood floors, move thick rugs, cables, cords, and other obstacles out of the way to prevent your little robot helper from getting stuck.

    FAQ

    Q. Can’t I just sweep my hardwood floors?

    A. Sure. A quick sweep will do the trick for a localized mess, but sweeping your entire house is a chore. Vacuuming is faster and will pick up more without spreading dust back into the air.

    Q. I have a home with hardwood and carpeting. What are my options?

    A. Choose a vacuum that comes with a roller brush attachment for cleaning your carpets. When you’re finished with the carpeting, you can remove the brush so that it won’t damage your wood floors.

    Q. Is vacuuming enough to keep my hardwood floors looking clean and shiny?

    A. You’ll also need to mop your floors from time to time. Vacuuming helps to get at the dust that’s settled there, but it won’t remove stains and stuck-on dirt.

    Q. Is hardwood better than carpet?

    A. Carpet might feel soft underfoot, but it’s a haven for dust mites and dirt. High-pile carpets are tough to clean thoroughly, and even a low pile tends to hold onto odors. Stains are easy to spot and tough to get out. Hardwood is more hygienic, easier to clean, and looks sleek. Craving that cozy feel under your toes? Buy an area rug to soften up your space.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Enid
      Enid
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Patty
      Patty
      Writer
    • Steph
      Steph
      Writer

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