Hardwood floors can be such a challenge to clean. Hardwood flooring is among the most delicate type of flooring, one which could easily be ruined by many of the vacuums on the market. You have to choose the brand and model to buy carefully, or you’ll risk causing irreversible damage to your radiant flooring. But how do you identify the best vacuum for hardwood floors?
Hardwood floors can last for generations if they are properly maintained. This includes vacuuming them with the right vacuum cleaner.
I wrote this guide to explain the features to look out for in a hardwood vacuum. I also included a list of the most gentle vacuums for this type of flooring, to help you buy the most suitable model for your home. I’ve added this at the beginning of my guide, but be sure to read it through the end if you wish to get a better grasp of what it means to vacuum hardwoods without scratching a single plank.
- 1 Top 10 Vacuum Cleaners for Hardwood Floors
- 2 Options to Clean Hardwood Floors
- 3 5 Features to Look for in a Vacuum for Hardwood Floors
- 4 Other Essential Features When Buying a Vacuum for Hardwood Flooring
- 5 Can Robot Vacuums Clean Hardwood Floors?
- 6 Final Comments
Top 10 Vacuum Cleaners for Hardwood Floors
|Product||Looks||Final price||Type||Last updated|
|Bissell PowerEdge Pet||$69.99||Corded stick||2019-12-15|
|Bissell Crosswave Pet Pro||$319.99||Vacuum & Scrubber||2019-12-15|
|Bissell Zing Bagged||$59.99||Canister||2019-12-15|
|Miele Compact C1 Pure Suction||$399.00||Canister||2019-12-15|
|Hoover FloorMate Jet||$299.99||Vacuum & Scrubber||2019-12-15|
|Shark APEX UpLight||$239.99||Corded stick||2019-12-15|
|Tineco Pure One S12||$649.00||Cordless stick||2019-12-15|
|iRobot Roomba i7+||$699.00||Robot||2019-12-15|
Bissell PowerEdge Pet
Bissell PowerEdge Pet may be one of the cheapest upright sticks on the market, which is awesome because this vacuum is also great for hardwood floors. It doesn’t feature that hi-tech vibe which one can get from a more recent Dyson or Shark, but the PowerEdge is light, powerful, and easy to maneuver. What’s more, the wheels from the nozzle come with a rubber coating to protect your hardwood floors from any scratch.
Bissell Crosswave Pet Pro
Bissell Crosswave Pet Pro is a hybrid vacuum and scrubber that allows you to practically wash your hardwood floors. The watery solution is immediately sucked into the appliance, so no harm will be done to your wood planks. Spills are quickly removed, as well as stubborn stuck dirt.
Bissell Spinwave is more of a mop than a vacuum cleaner. Never the less, I’ve included it in my top because it’s the perfect tool for maintaining your hardwood floors shiny and bright. The Spinwave is safe to use on sealed hardwood floors. Bissell included a pair of soft touchpads, perfect for gently cleaning this type of flooring.
Bissell Zing Bagged
Bissell Zing is a cheap bagged canister that can easily clean hardwood floors. Being a lightweight canister, it has a soft footprint. The nozzle is specially designed for this type of flooring. The power can be variated according to your cleaning needs.
Miele Compact C1 Pure Suction
Miele Compact C1 Pure Suction is great choice if you are looking for a more reliable canister. Besides the fantastic suction power, the C1 line from Miele is renowned for the great filtration system, as well as the quality of the materials used. Miele vacuums are expected to last at least 10-15 years.
Hoover FloorMate Jet
Hoover ONEPWR FloorMate Jet differentiates itself from the competition with this cordless hybrid cleaner, which can vacuum, spray solution and scrub at the same time. The ONEPWR line has one more game-changing feature: all the appliances produced under this brand use the same type of battery. This means you can prolongue the cleaning time as much as you want simply by using additional batteries.
Shark APEX UpLight
Shark APEX UpLight is the newest invention from SharkClean. This corded stick has one of the highest suction powers on the market. It also comes with a double brushroll which is perfect for most types of flooring, including hardwood. On top of that, the roll doesn’t tangle, thanks to a new technology that eliminates large stands as soon as they wrap around the nozzle.
Tineco Pure One S12
Tineco Pure One S12 is a premium cordless vacuum and an expensive one I might add. But the perks that come with this cleaner are impressive. The Tineco S12 has one of the highest suction powers of all cordless vacuums. It also has one of the best filtration systems. It is lightweight and smart (it can even be connected to your phone), not to mention the futuristic LCD screen on it’s back.
Roborock S6 is one of the best robots on the market. The robot uses a laser to map the entire cleaning area, and thanks to a really good SLAM implementation, it cleans thoroughly and methodically. S6 has HEPA filtration, one of the best suction powers in the world of robotic vacuums, and the ability to wet-mop floors. The smartphone app from Xiaomi allows you to do a lot of things with the S6.
iRobot Roomba i7+
iRobot Roomba i7+ is not the latest Roomba, but it’s certainly one of the best. The “plus” means that the model also comes with a base where it can auto-empty its dirt compartment. As a premium robot vacuum, this iRobot has a great suction, HEPA filtration, SLAM capabitity and a very good autonomy.
Options to Clean Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors are stylish and longlasting. But that’s only if you maintain them properly. Part of the maintenance involves regular cleaning. Dirt also causes hardwood floors to lose shine, which can lead to unsightly stains. Particles cause abrasion and need to be removed before they result in a scratched floor. There are several options when looking for ways to clean your hardwood flooring. They include mopping, sweeping, and vacuuming.
Mopping hardwood isn’t of the best options. Water causes irreversible damage to the flooring and shortens its lifespan. Besides that, a mop may not pick up all the debris. Some of it may remain behind, mostly lodged in the crevices left by the pieces of wood. Using a broom may sound a good idea being one of the quickest ways to clean floors. However, a broom would only scatter dirt around, with debris depositing in the spaces between planks.
Using a vacuum cleaner is the best way to clean the hardwood floors in your home. These devices work by sucking up dirt and can even remove fine debris from the gaps between planks. But then, you cannot use any vacuum on this delicate flooring. Some come with rotating brushes and hard bristles. These often scratch surfaces, removing their coat. Over time, the damage will be openly visible. Besides causing your floor to look unappealing, scratches shorten the life of the floor.
Heavy vacuums can also destroy your hardwood floors. The pressure of their weight may cause dents. If the wheels are made of plastic, the damage would be more pronounced, with marks on the floor. The right vacuum should lift dirt off the surface effectively but without causing scratches or dents. Such a device must have specific features, as we will see next.
5 Features to Look for in a Vacuum for Hardwood Floors
Most vacuums are designed to clean different floors, including carpets. That means they may be too aggressive to use on hardwood. A majority of them come with rotating and bristled brushes to excite debris and pull it toward the suction port. This type of brush makes them effective at removing dirt, but unsuitable for delicate floors.
Other vacuum types are too heavy and only safe for surfaces that can withstand their weight. With so many vacuum features working against sensitive surfaces, it’s essential to know what makes a vacuum suitable for hardwood flooring, so here we go:
You will not be using the vacuum on hardwood surfaces only. Most likely, you also have carpets in your home. You, therefore, need a model that can clean both hard floors and carpets. You don’t want to have separate vacuums for different surfaces. In addition to the floors, you will want the same vacuum to be able to clean higher places such as window sills, shelves, and ceilings. Other sensitive surfaces too, such as upholstered furniture, mattresses, and electronics. And if you have pets, you’ll most likely want a vacuum that can also clean hair and fur.
Some vacuums come with a 2-in-1 design that allows them to be used as two different types of flooring. A stick may feature a detachable handheld that you can use anywhere. A corded upright may come with a removable pod that extends your reach. These features increase the versatility of the appliance. You will clean your hardwood flooring with the full suction floor head, then remove the handheld for higher places or couches and mattresses. For the best experience, choose a vacuum that you can use to remove dirt and debris from many different surfaces.
Other versatility features involve the type of attachments the vac comes with. If you have a mix of carpets and hardwood, you may want to choose a model that comes with two different brush rolls. You can then use the gentle brush to clean hardwood floors and the bristled one for carpet. Pet hair attachments suit the needs of pet owners. It can be a floor nozzle or small accessory that you attach to remove pet hair. Bottom line: when choosing your hardwood vacuum, ensure it comes with the necessary accessories for the cleaning requirements of your entire home.
Heavy vacuums do not suit hard floors. They cause too much pressure on the surface and may cause dents or other forms of damage to the coat. The best vacuum for hardwood floors is a lightweight unit that rolls on the surfaces effortlessly and without damaging the planks. Besides providing for safe cleaning, lightweight vacuums are more accessible and more comfortable to clean with. They allow you to vacuum for extended hours, plus most members of your family can use them.
Some vacuum types are known to be lighter than others. If you’re familiar with each one of them, canisters must have come to your mind. Canister vacuums are generally lightweight even when delivering immense suction. Sticks are also very light, especially those designed for smaller cleaning jobs. Most uprights are heavy appliances, and only a few can clean delicate flooring. When looking for a lightweight vacuum that comes with full suction, your best bet would be the canister type. You will use it on both the hardwood floors and various types of carpets or area rugs.
Spinning brushes are great at agitating or loosening dirt for easier pickup. Floor nozzles with such brushrolls clean carpets better, removing even the debris suck inside the fibers. However, that may not be the case when it comes to hardwood floors. With dirt on the surface, a rotating beater isn’t necessary for efficient pick-up. The bristles may even cause debris to move around, making the vacuum less effective.
But it’s the damage that rotating brushes cause that makes them unsuitable for delicate floors. Most feature hard bristles that scratch surfaces and remove the sealing. To protect your costly flooring, I would advise you to go for a vacuum that either comes with a soft, fluffy brushroll, or one that doesn’t use one at all. The later type relies on suction only to remove dirt and debris. You can use these vacuums without worrying about damage, seeing that there are no bristles to scratch the surface.
If you have surfaces that require the use of a beater bar, I would recommend the gentle type. Some vacuum models use brush rolls made of microfiber cloth. These are safe on your hardwood flooring even when they are spinning. Another option would be a vacuum that comes with an on/off button for the brush roll. With the option to switch off the rotating roll, these vacuums suit homes that have both sensitive floors and carpets.
When the vacuum you’ve chosen comes without a beater bar, weak suction can make it less efficient at removing dirt. You have no brush to loosen up dirt, which means stuck-on debris will require a stronger airflow to dislodge. You need, therefore, to take into account the suction level of the model that you go for. A few manufacturers usually indicate that in the specs section of their vacuum. Values may be given in Pascals, water lift, air watts, and other units. Read more about what these mean in my guide related to suction.
If no suction specifications are provided, you may rely on the wattage of the engine to gauge how powerful the vacuum could be. In most cases, higher power requirements mean higher suction levels. Modern vacuums use more efficient motors, though, and the assumption that higher wattage means more suction may not hold true. Some reviewers measure the airflow of the vacuums they have reviewed. Their data can offer valuable information when choosing the right model for your hardwood floors.
Vacuums come with wheels of different designs and materials. The most common are plastic and rubber wheels. Plastic is hard and can cause damage to sensitive floors. That’s beside the noise they produce when rolling on hard surfaces. Plastic casters can only suit carpets. The dense fibers absorb the pressure caused by such wheels as well as the vibrations for silent cleaning.
The best vacuum for delicate floors should have soft rubber wheels. These glide smoothly on the surface without scratching or exerting pressure and causing dents. Rubberized wheels also do not produce annoying sounds when moving on hard floors. A lightweight vacuum that features rubber casters is the kind of cleaning appliance that suits your hardwood floors.
While still on the topic of wheels, I should add that wheel design doesn’t matter much when choosing a vacuum for hardwood floors. That’s because the flooring offers no resistance to movement, and almost any wheel size will glide on the surface smoothly. Your main worry should, therefore, be the possibility of damage. Rubberized wheels provide the safest solution to this problem.
Other Essential Features When Buying a Vacuum for Hardwood Flooring
Corded Vs. Corded
When buying a vacuum your hardwood floors, suction is an essential consideration. You need a device that removes the most stubborn of dirt, especially the debris in the narrow crevices. Corded vacuums are usually more powerful, plus they can clean larger areas non-stop. Most of them are upright or canister types. Corded uprights have the advantage of according you comfortable cleaning since you do not have to bend most of the time. However, they’re usually heavy and can cause damage to the floor.
In addition to the heavy nature, a majority of uprights use powered attachments that contain bristled brush rolls. If you have to choose a corded upright, I would advise you to consider a lightweight model that uses a brush roll made of soft material. Better still, one that offers a means to switch off power to the brush when cleaning sensitive surfaces.
Canisters are usually corded and have the advantage of being lightweight. They use less aggressive attachments and can suit the cleaning of hardwood flooring. Another advantage of this type of vacuum includes their longer reach, that allows you to clean e.g. a stairway comfortably. Canisters are also known for being adequately quiet, in spite of their powerful engines and immense suction. One of the major downsides when using these types of cleaning devices is that you have to bend most of the time.
Cordless stick vacs are a popular choice today. A majority of them are lightweight enough to be used on surfaces that are delicate and powerful enough to clean stubborn debris. Should you choose this vacuum type for your hardwood flooring, consider its suction level and go for a powerful model. Ensure too, that the floor nozzle is safe enough to clean sensitive places. Features to look for include a soft brush roll or one that you can switch on and off at will.
Cordless vacuum cleaners rely on batteries to power the engine. Go for a model that offers adequate cleaning time for your needs. You may also want to consider a type that comes with a replaceable battery. For corded vacs, the length of the cable matters a lot, especially if you have large rooms to clean. Some are the retractable type and more comfortable to wind up or unwind. Although not necessary, you may want a cord that retracts into the vacuum body rather than the kind that you have to wrap around a hook.
Bagged Vs. Bagless
This is quite a debate. Most vacuums you will come across today are bagless. They use plastic dust cups to store vacuumed debris. However, bagged vacs have their advantages. Bags offer ample storage spaces for dirt, with capacities that range from one to several liters. If you have a large and high-traffic home, a bagged vacuum can mean fewer trips to the trash can. Bags also hold dirt more safely, featuring airtight seals and multilayered walls. As a result, bagged vacuums are the safest for allergen sufferers. One of the main downsides of these cleaners is the amount of money you spend to replace bags.
Bagless vacuums are less costly to maintain. The dust compartment can be used as much time as you want throughout the life of the device. Bags need to be replaced every time you dispose of dirt. The drawbacks of bagless cleaners include the risk to health when emptying the bin. The limited capacity, too. To reduce the danger dust blowing about when emptying a bagless vacuum, go for a model that offers a way to discard the bin contents safely. Such features include a dust cup that opens downwards. If your home is large and high-traffic, choose a model whose dustbin is large enough for your needs – about a quart or more.
HEPA Vs. Non-HEPA
Some of the vacuums on the market offer excellent filtration while others do not. Manufacturers usually state the filtration level of their vacuums and you can decide what suits you. HEPA filters trap as many as 99.97% of airborne particles in the air coming from your vacuum’s exhaust. They’re the best option, especially if you or a loved one suffers from allergies. Most of the time, medium and high-end vacs come with these types of filters. Cheaper models often do not and can release allergens into the air when cleaning.
Some companies may not install HEPA filters in their vacuums. Instead, they use proprietary technologies to remove particles from the air or own filters for the exhaust port. Such vacuums will be safe to use, just like those that come with HEPA filters. However, it’s not every manufacturer that will offer such technologies. Only trust such vacuums if they come from a manufacturer who makes quality vacuums.
Can Robot Vacuums Clean Hardwood Floors?
With the current popularity of robotic vacuum cleaners, you might be wondering how safe or effective these are on sensitive flooring. The answer is yes, robots are suitable to be used on your hardwood surfaces. However, specific features are necessary. Just like the conventional or manual cleaners, there are things to look for in the best robot vacuum for hardwood floors. These are explained below. To make your buying process easier, I also picked the top brands and models on the market today. Use the list above to identify a robot that suits your budget, cleaning requirements, and personal preferences.
Features to Look for When Buying a Robot for Hardwood Floors
Different brands and models come with different features. Some are useful, while others are not really necessary. The main factors to take into account when choosing the right robot for your hardwood floors are:
Robots come with different levels of maximum suction. For the best results, go for a model that offers decent suction to clean even stuck-on debris and stains. Otherwise, you may always have to follow up on the robot with a conventional vacuum. Some models adjust suction power automatically to fit the surface being cleaned or the amount of dirt encountered. These are the best for your hardwood floor.
Cleaning time varies across different robot brands and models. Depending on the size of your home, select a robot that will clean without requiring extra charging. A battery that runs for an hour or more works for the average home. While still on the issue of runtime, choosing a robot that returns to the charging base automatically would be an excellent decision. It means the vacuum can clean for hours without your input, something that makes it truly autonomous.
A longer runtime is nothing without a corresponding dust bin capacity. Choose a robot that offers adequate storage or you’ll have to keep emptying the bin, thus delaying vacuuming tasks. Better still, choose a model that auto empties itself, such as the Roomba i7+ or the Roomba s9+ from iRobot. However, that would depend on your budget, as such robots can be quite pricey. If you intend to use the vacuum for usual everyday cleanups, consider a dustbin that can hold around 17 oz (0.5 liters) of debris or more.
Just like an ordinary vacuum, you don’t want a robot that sucks up allergens and reintroduces them into the air. Therefore, choose a model that uses high-efficiency filtration for the exhaust port. HEPA filters trap over 99% of particles that are as small as 0.3 microns in diameter. Choose a robot that offers that level of filtration, especially if you or a loved one cannot stand the presence of allergens.
A robot cannot be fully autonomous if it cannot find its way around your home. Navigation algorithms vary from one robot to another. Navigation sensors, too. Depending on your budget, go for a vacuum that uses advanced technologies to know which areas to clean, such as laser scanners or video cameras. Other navigation features to look out for include cliff detection and virtual walls to avoid cleaning restricted areas or rooms.
Some robot vacuums map out your home and allow you to schedule cleaning tasks. Although often more costly, such devices provide a better experience to clean your home. Robots with smart mapping technology also come with app integration and WiFi connection. These enable you to communicate with the vacuum from your smartphone. The connection allows you to control a wide range of cleaning settings including planning tasks, taking the robot to the charging base, adjusting suction, and many more.
Hardwood floors are costly installations that need great care. Using the right cleaning tool ensures the flooring looks as good as new for years to come. There are so many models on the market – selecting a gentle but powerful vacuum cleaner can be difficult. With the recommendations presented in this guide, you’re only a step away from finding the best vacuum for hardwood floors. For better results, here is my advice: buy two different vacuums – a robot and a classic one (most preferably a lightweight but powerful canister or stick). The robot will come in handy for the light and daily cleaning tasks, while the conventional vacuum could be used once a week for deep cleanups.
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