Vacuum cleaners that are designed to work on carpets often don’t fare well when dealing with delicate hardwood flooring. The first essential step to ensure your home’s hardwood flooring retains its lustrous look is picking the perfect vacuum for this kind of cleaning job. In this comprehensive guide, I will reveal the secrets on how to pick the best vacuum for hardwood floors in 2018. If you’re in a hurry and need to quickly jump to a specific section of this article, use the following table of contents:
- 1 Hardwood Floors Have Special Needs
- 2 6 Features to Look for When Picking a Great Vacuum Cleaner for Hardwood Floors
- 3 Top 9 Vacuum Cleaners for Hardwood Flooring
- 3.1 Miele Complete C2 Hardfloor
- 3.2 Bissell Hard Floor Expert Multi-Cyclonic 1547
- 3.3 Shark APEX DuoClean Powered Lift-Away
- 3.4 Bissell PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor
- 3.5 Severin MY7118 S Special Bagless Vacuum Cleaner
- 3.6 Miele Complete C3 Marin
- 3.7 Oreck Elevate Conquer
- 3.8 Dyson Cinetic Big Ball
- 3.9 Shark DuoClean Rocket Corded HV382
- 4 Are Robot Vacuum Cleaners Suited for Hardwood Floors?
- 5 Our Top 6 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Recommendations for Hardwood Flooring
- 6 Final Words
Hardwood Floors Have Special Needs
Hardwood floors can last for generations if they are maintained properly. Now, because hardwood floors are made from wood, it’s not suitable to clean them using a wet mop. This means e.g. robot vacs with wet mopping feature can end up causing permanent moisture damage. The lustrous shine of expensive hardwood flooring is also susceptible to scratching. Using an abrasive cleaning tool or hard-bristled cleaners pose the serious threat of damaging the luxurious polish. Dusting the floor with a broom is also not a good idea. Instead of collecting the dust, most brooms tend to spread the dirt around. This causes dirt and grime to get stuck in the narrow crevices between the floor tiles.
The best way to clean a hardwood surface is by sucking the dirt up using a vacuum cleaner. Some vacuum cleaners allow you to raise the floor cleaner attachment a few inches off the ground. This reduces the risk of abrasive caused by the vacuum head. When raised, a vacuum cleaner’s floor attachment can hover over the hardwood tiles with minimal contact, picking up dirt and debris.
6 Features to Look for When Picking a Great Vacuum Cleaner for Hardwood Floors
A great vacuum cleaner for hardwood floor should have two primary traits. Firstly, it needs to have sufficient suction strength to suck out the dirt stuck between the tiles. It should also have a brushroll-free design so it doesn’t end up scratching the flooring or dulling the polish. Vacuum cleaners that allow you to turn off the brushroll rotation can also be a good choice for hardwood floors. To help you create a mental checklist, here are 6 things you should look for when shopping for a vacuum cleaner suited to clean hardwood floors:
- Suction-Only: Most upright vacuums come with rotating brushrolls. The bristles on the brushrolls are specially designed to lift dirt and debris from deep within the carpet fibers and direct it towards the suction spout. However, when cleaning hardwood floors there is no need for a spinning brush. In fact, with no resistance from the carpet fibers, fine dust particles can actually be spread around instead of being sucked in by the vacuum cleaner. Therefore, the rotating brushes of a vacuum cleaner result in a less effective clean. Apart from being ineffective on hardwood floors, brushrolls with hard bristles may end up causing irreversible damage. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. E.g. Bissell Hard Floor Expert canister vacuum cleaner comes with a ultra-soft brushroll and a specially designed hard floor head to work on hard surfaces such as hardwood and laminate. The cordless Dyson V8 has a soft fluffy head which is also design to tackled sensitive hard flooring.
- Soft Rubberized Wheels: Some vacuum manufacturers use hard plastic materials to make the wheels. While these wheels work fine on carpets, they can leave behind nasty scuff marks or scratches on hardwood floors. Your best bet is a vacuum cleaner that sits on soft rubberized wheels. Another advantage of choosing rubber wheels over plastic ones is because they silently glide over hard wooden surfaces. Plastic wheels, on the other hand, produce a typical harsh sound when rolling over hard surfaces, which can get annoying over time.
- Canister Body-Type: The reason we recommend a canister body-type over an upright model is because canisters are lighter by design. The light body glides over the hard wooden flooring without putting too much pressure on the wheels or nozzle. This, in turn, reduces the stress put on the delicate wooden flooring. The hardwood flooring offers little resistance and thus a light canister body of a vacuum cleaner efficiently rolls behind you as you navigate the entire room. Something like the caddy of a Shark Lift-Away is a great choice if you want to switch between a canister and an upright body-type on the go. However, if you are buying a non-switchable model, we highly recommend buying a canister.
- Versatile: Unless you are buying a vacuum cleaner just for your hardwood floors you would need a cleaner that can also work on other surfaces. Most homes offer a variety of cleaning challenges, including carpets, rugs, hard surface flooring, upholstery, furniture, electronics, and more. You need a vacuum cleaner that can switch roles and adjust to the ever changing cleaning requirements. The vacuum cleaner should have long extension wands for above-ground cleaning. Features such as a flexible wand add to the versatility as it allows you to clean underneath the furniture. As a general rule, if you’re interested in a complete package, never settle for a model that’s geared to take on only one type of cleaning.
- Great Suction Power: Now, because you are dependent on suction strength alone to pick up dirt and dust from the hardwood flooring, you need a model that comes with enough of it. Armed with cyclonic airflow technology, the Dyson Ball Animal 2 delivers the desired blend of power and compactness. The more expensive Miele Complete C3 Turbo Powerline comes with a 2000 W motor that delivers enough suction power to pick up the finest of dust particles stuck in corners and tile joints.
- Corded: Cordless models are battery powered and if you have a big home it can run out of juice before you cover the entire floor. People with small apartments and small storage spaces can go for cordless models. However, for most average-sized American homes, it’s always recommended buying a vacuum cleaner that comes with a long power cord. This way you will get continuous, uninterrupted power for those long weekend cleaning sessions. The convenience of a cordless cleaner is best felt when you are using it as a secondary cleaner for small cleaning chores or when you need to quickly clean up a spillage.
Top 9 Vacuum Cleaners for Hardwood Flooring
Miele Complete C2 Hardfloor
Specially designed to clean hard flooring including hardwood, the Miele Complete C2 is a versatile machine, to say the least. It comes 6 suction settings, making it perfect for cleaning everything from delicate electronics and upholstery to dusty hardwood floors. I rate the Miele Complete C2 above the rest because it pays attention to the little things. For example, it has a super long 33-foot retractable power cord. This means you will never be too far from a power socket. The Miele unit sits on highly maneuverable wheels which allows you to glide it across the hardwood floor with minimal effort. Weighing in at 19 lbs, the unit is also pretty compact and lightweight. The floor attachment of the Miele Complete C2 Hardfloor comes with a giant button to switch cleaning modes on the go. When on the hardfloor setting, a soft brush recedes down to protect your hardwood floor from scratches.
- Powerful 1200W motor
- 33-Foot retractable power Cord
- Specially designed floor nozzles SBD285-3 and SBB300-3
- Cheaper than most Mieles
Bissell Hard Floor Expert Multi-Cyclonic 1547
The 1547 Multi-Cyclonic checks all the boxes and it’s highly rated by customers. This bagless canister cleaner is a compact unit that weighs just 9 lbs. The canister body sits on top of two large, highly maneuverable wheels. They keep the main unit off the floor, thus reducing the chances of scraping. Much like the Miele C2, the Multi-Cyclonic 1547 has a power cord that automatically retracts back into the body. However, it has much shorter power cord length of only 20 feet. The Bissell does have a rotating brush, but it’s specially designed to pick up dirt from hardwood surfaces. The brush comes with ultra-soft bristles that attract fine dust particles without causing any damage to the wooden surface. This particular model comes with all the usual attachments including a crevice tool, upholstery tool, dusting brush, extension wand, and the special hard floor tool. The Multi-Cyclonic 1547 has non-marking rubberized wheels that deliver a smooth and silent glide over hardwood flooring. Much like the Dyson models, the Bissell Hard Floor Expert uses cyclonic technology to generate excellent suction performance.
- Multi-Cyclonic technology which delivers ample suction
- Special non-marking wheels
- Hard floor tool specially designed for delicate hardwood floors
- Well under $200
Shark APEX DuoClean Powered Lift-Away
When it comes sheer versatility nothing comes close to the Shark APEX Lift-Away. The Lift-Away technology allows you to transform the unit from an upright to a canister vacuum cleaner in a matter of seconds. Like all Shark products, the APEX Lift-Away has a solid built quality and it should perform glitch-free for years to come. The Shark also comes with an impressive 30-feet long power cable making it perfectly suited for cleaning large halls and big homes. The latest Shark upright has a bagless design, which means you would never have to worry about the cost or hassle of replacing dust bags. It comes with HEPA filtration and it successfully traps in 99.9% dust and allergens measuring 0.3 microns or above. This particular model, like many of the previous Sharks, has the Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology that keeps dust particles from escaping out of the unit. The entire unit weighs just 16 lbs and it sits on rubber-coated wheels that ensure a smooth glide. The APEX does come with a brushroll attachment, but it can be turned off when cleaning hardwood floors.
- Transforms from an upright to a canister
- Reliability of a Shark product
- New design and awesome suction power
- Affordable pricing
Bissell PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor
Okay, we did say no uprights, but this Bissell model is a lonely exception. Its dirty cheap pricing combined with unique design to take on any hard surface flooring allowed it fight its way into my list. Even though, Bissell markets this vacuum to pet owners, this unit can be the primary cleaner even if you don’t have any furry animals at home. The PowerEdge has a special V-shaped floor head that directs dust particles towards the suction intake. The unique V-shaped floor tool design coupled with smooth swiveling feature allows you to clean around tight spots such as furniture legs. It does not come with rotating brushes making it perfect for delicate hardwood surfaces. All the contact points, including the wipers and wheels, are made from soft rubberized materials. Weighing 7 lbs, this super lightweight Bissell unit puts minimal stress on the wooden floor. The only real drawback of this product is that it comes with a comparatively shorter 20-foot power cord with no automatic retraction feature. However, for most average homes the limited power cable length should not pose a problem.
- Highly affordable
- Unique V-Shaped floor nozzle
Severin MY7118 S Special Bagless Vacuum Cleaner
Since 1892, The German brand Severin has introduced quality products that are both efficient and durable. The flagship of Severin’s S Special collection, the MY7118 bagless cleaner is no different. This unit comes with adjustable suction settings that enable it to take on a variety of cleaning chores. Its long list of accessories includes a special Eco floor nozzle, an upholstery tool, an XL parquet nozzle, a powered turbo brush, a crevice tool, and a duster tool. The XL parquet nozzle is specially designed to be gentle on delicate hardwood flooring and its extra wide cleaning path picks up more in fewer swipes. The Severin MY7118 offers HEPA 14 filtration that not only traps dust and allergens but also bad smells. Powered by a 900 watt motor and a special multi-cyclone technology, the MY 7118 maintains strong and constant suction for efficient cleaning. When compared to other canister vacuum cleaners, the Severin has a quieter 74 dB noise output.
- Reputed German-built quality
- Special XL parquet nozzle for delicate hardwood floors
- Long list of accessories
- Cheaper than most
Miele Complete C3 Marin
The Miele Complete C3 is the ultimate no-compromise vacuum cleaner for people who don’t mind paying the extra bucks. Hailed as the Rolls Royce of vacuum cleaners, the Miele Complete C3 does it all. It is powered by super silent 1200 Watt vortex motor with 6-stage suction control. It also has an automatic setting where it seamlessly changes the suction power when you switch from carpet to hard flooring. The included SBB300-3 Parquet tool is ideal for hardwood floors and it comes with 180 degrees swiveling feature for easy maneuverability. Miele Complete C3 Marin’s steep price tag seems somewhat justified when you look its unique usability features. It comes under-body LED lighting and special illuminated parking system. The body of the Miele Complete C3 Marin is lined with an ultra-soft velvet strip to protect it from bumps and bruises. The top-of-the-line Miele has a whopping 36 feet operating radius and the power cord auto-rewinds at a push of a button.
- Delivers super-silent performance
- LED parking lights
- SBB300-3 Parquet tool
- Occasionally on discount
Oreck Elevate Conquer
Oreck Elevate Conquer has what it takes to be the primary vacuum cleaner in almost any household. The Elevate Conquer allows you to select between 5 suction settings and it delivers decent performance to clean both hardwood floor and low to medium pile carpeting. Although an upright, the Oreck has a smart swivel steering that allows you to make tight bends without lifting up the floor tool. One of the advantages of bringing the Oreck Elevate Conquer home is that you will support the US economy, since these products are made in US. The Elevate Conquer comes with 35 foot power cord.
- Great design and good suction
- 35 foot power cord
- Received positively by consumers
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball is an amazing all-purpose vacuum cleaner. However, it made it to our list of best vacuum for hardwood floors for two specific reasons. Firstly, it’s a highly maneuverable unit. The big ball technology allows the unit to self-correct its direction when following you around the room. It’s also the only vacuum in the market that can automatically get back up in case it topples over. Apart from the maneuverability factor, we chose the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball because it frees you from cleaning or replacing any filters. This is a great advantage as it not only saves you the money that would otherwise go into buying replacement filters but also the daily effort of cleaning dirty filters. If that wasn’t enough the floor tool automatically adjusts the head height to suit different floor types. You do get the option to turn off the brushroll when switching from carpet to hardwood floor.
- No filter maintenance or replacement required
- Self-rectifies direction and automatically recovers when toppled
- Awesome suction
- With a reduced price, since it’s more than 1 year old
Shark DuoClean Rocket Corded HV382
This stick vacuum cleaner doesn’t have the heft of a full-sized upright, but it can deliver some serious suction power. The Shark DuoClean Rocket HV382 is a featherweight contender weighing in at just 10 lbs. Armed with a 30 feet long power cord, the Rocket has a reach advantage over most traditional uprights and canister units. One of the primary reasons the Shark DuoClean made it to our list is because it has a special soft brushroll for hardwood floors. The specially designed brushroll hugs the wooden tiles gives it near-polished finish. Much like most modern Shark units, the DuoClean Rocket features dual headlamps thus enabling you to clean all the dark spaces and corners around the house. This unit has two power settings. The lower power setting disengages the main beater brush while keeping ultra-soft roller on. This mode is perfectly suited for cleaning hardwood floors as it eliminates the risk of scratches caused by the main beater brush while the soft roller delivers a buffing effect.
- Special soft roller for a near-polished finish
- 30 foot cord length
- Super lightweight and compact
- Great price/quality ratio
Are Robot Vacuum Cleaners Suited for Hardwood Floors?
Most robot vacuums do a pretty commendable job when navigating on hard surfaces including hardwood floors. It’s really the carpets and the rugs that test maneuvering capability of these autonomous cleaning machines. So, when it comes to hardwood flooring almost all robot vacuum cleaners are more than capable of taking on the cleaning chore. For most families, a robot vacuum cleaner is responsible for the daily cleaning. This is because they do a great job at picking up dust particles and debris off the floor. However, if you want a deep clean, cleaning bots are yet to match the sheer suction power of regular vacuum cleaners. Buying a robot vac is a great option for keeping your home’s hardwood flooring dust free on a daily basis, especially if you cannot spare the time or effort to vacuum manually.
Robot Vacuum Features for Hardwood Flooring
While most robot vacs are more than capable of picking up dust from hardwood floors, there are some usability features that you should look out for:
- Runtime: Trust us, you can never have enough runtime. It’s an absolute annoyance to see your robot vac frequently running out of juice and returning back to the charging dock. It’s best to go for a model that delivers at least 90 minutes of continuous cleaning. This way your robot vac will be able to cover the entire floor before you make it back from work.
- Suction Power: Specially designed to work on hardwood and other delicate floors, robot vacuum brushes usually do not cause scratches. This means they almost totally rely on the suction power to suck in the dirt and debris off the floor. We suggest looking up the suction figures of a robot vacuum before you decide to swipe the card.
- Large Dust Tank: The entire point of having an autonomous cleaning bot is saving time and effort. Frequent dust tank cleanups can ruin the serene autonomous experience. A small dust tank and a big house almost always equal to regular dust tank cleanups. Pick a model that has a large enough dust tank to give you at least a few days of peace before you need to embark upon that obligatory maintenance chore.
- Smart Navigation Algorithm: You really don’t want your bot to clean one area over and over again while completely neglecting other spaces. Advanced bots with laser scanning features can create a map of your home and optimize the cleaning route. Compared to bots that use a dumb zigzag algorithm, these smart bots take less time to cover more area.
Our Top 6 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Recommendations for Hardwood Flooring
Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum 2
Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum 2 is one of those Chinese bots that are undercutting the competition by offering great value for money. For a sub $500 robot vacuum, the Mi Robot comes with smart laser guidance system and a mammoth 5200 mAh battery. When it comes to suction strength, the Xiaomi hits it out of the park with a 2000 Pa suction figure. The bot weighs a hefty 8.4 lbs, which is justified because it lugs around a huge battery pack. That huge juice box allows the Mi to deliver an impressive run-time of 150 minutes and can easily cover a space of 3000 sq ft. Overall, the second version of Xiaomi Mi Robot has enough suction power to clean the between the tile cracks, which, coupled with its impressive battery size makes it a great buy for cleaning hardwood floors.
Haier XShuai T370
We picked the XShuai T370 because it checks almost all the boxes to be a great vacuum cleaner for hardwood floors. Firstly, it delivers a suction power of 1500 Pa, which is ample to pick up dirt and grime from hardwood floors. The XShuai also delivers a continuous runtime of about 120 minutes of which last 30 minutes are spent on navigating back to the charging dock. The unit sits on top of rubber wheels, which reduces the chances of scratches and damages. Adding to the usability factor, the XShuai offers both app based control as well as Amazon Alexa voice command compatibility.
If you are looking for a robot vac that’s priced around $150 but can handle the delicate chore of cleaning your home’s hardwood flooring then the Dibea D960 is a definite contender. It’s fitted with a good battery that delivers a decent runtime of 90 minutes. This D960 unit is specially designed to clean hardwood, linoleum, and tiled floors. This means it not only does a great job of cleaning but it also doesn’t end up scratching or damaging the floor. This model does come with HEPA filtration, which makes it capable of reducing the amount allergens from the environment.
Neato Botvac D5 Connected
The Neato Botvac D5 Connected is one of the more expensive robot vacuums on our list. However, for its price, the Neato D5 Connected does offer everything you would ever need from a robot vacuum. It gets the basics right by offering excellent suction performance and a pretty satisfactory runtime of 90 minutes. While the 90 minute runtime may seem limited, the Neato D5 Connected does get more done in less time. Armed with its SmartLaser tech, the Botvac calculates the optimum cleaning path and smartly navigates past obstacles to clean 4 times faster than ordinary bots. Its unique D-shaped design also allows the bot to clean the corners much more efficiently than circular robot vacs.
iRobot Roomba 960
Roombas have been cleaning hardwood floors ever since robot vacuums first came into the market. Consider the 960 as a budget 980 that comes with some great features, but without the heftier price tag. It uses a video stream fop a top case camera to make the SLAM and efficiently navigate around the room. The 960 also comes with the newer generation motor that delivers more suction performance than the 700 and 600 series models. The 960 does offer HEPA filtration and app based control. It also has special sensors to detect areas that are dirtier so that it can prioritize them. Being almost $200 cheaper than the 980, the iRobot Roomba 960 is a smart compromise. While it does lack the turbo mode for carpets, it doesn’t lose out on functionality when cleaning hardwood surfaces.
Delivering 120 to 140 minutes of continuous cleaning between charges, the iLife A4s is a great budget vacuum cleaner. The A4s comes with a suction figure of 1000 Pa, which is sufficient to pick up dust from hardwood floors. It also has a smarter brain as it uses ILife’s second generation algorithm to navigate. The iLife A4s has an ultra-low profile of just 2.99 inches, which allows it to go underneath the furniture and deliver a more efficient clean. iLife A4s does cut a few corners. It does not have laser navigation or mapping technology. However, its impressive runtime and affordable pricing helped it secure a spot on our list of best robot vacuums for hardwood floors.
Caring for a hardwood floor starts with picking the right cleaning tools. If you are a busy individual, here’s the key advice of this article: I recommend buying a canister unit with no beater brush and high suction for those long weekend sessions while a robot vacuum takes care of the everyday cleaning. When it comes to picking my favorite cleaning bot both the Neato Botvac D5 Connected and the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum 2 are tied for the first place. As far as regular vacuums go I picked the Miele Complete C2 Hardfloor as my favorite, since it has the best price/quality ratio. I hope this comprehensive guide will help you make a smart buying decision, and if you have any feedback on my writing, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.