Best Vacuum Cleaner For Hardwood Floors

By | April 11, 2023
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We’ve updated our recommendations to include the Dyson V8 Fluffy, a newer version of the cordless vacuum we previously recommended.

Best Vacuum Cleaner For Hardwood Floors

Best Vacuum Cleaner For Hardwood Floors

Any vacuum cleaner can clean hardwood floors, which is the easiest job for a vacuum cleaner. You don’t need anything special to remove dust, hair, crumbs or anything else from wood, tile or laminate flooring. However, some vacuum cleaners do this a little better than others. To avoid spreading debris or potentially harmful sensitive flooring, look for a model that you can turn off the rotating brush roll, or has a special soft fabric brush roll or none at all.

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Our long-time favorite upright pump is perfect for most homes with adjustable features that make it effective on hardwood floors and other surfaces.

Our favorite all-purpose vacuum for all types of floors is the Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352, an affordable and durable machine that has consistently performed very well in tests for cleaning all surfaces, including bare floors. You can turn the brush roll on or off to prevent hard debris such as litter or breakfast from being sent across the room when cleaning wood, linoleum or tiles. Even if you only need to clean bare floors at the moment, choosing this Shark can save you from buying a vacuum cleaner in the future if you ever need to clean carpets or rugs.

Designed for hardwood floors and low-pile carpets, this sleek vacuum includes the tools to get the job done right. It provided one Wirecutter editor with excellent, trouble-free cleaning for a decade.

If you​​​​​​are not planning to clean carpets (or at least not thick ones), you can buy a vacuum designed specifically for cleaning bare floors. These are mostly “suction only” models without a brush roll. One vacuum cleaner we really like is the Miele Classic C1 Pure Suction. Miele canister vacuums are known to last for decades, run more quietly than almost any other vacuum, and filter well. The Classic C1 Pure Suction is the cheapest Miele canister model you can buy. It has a suction-only cleaning head (no brush roll) with soft bristles around the edges allowing it to glide smoothly over bare floors. Thanks to its strong suction, it also works quite well on low-fluff carpets.

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This version of one of our favorite cordless vacuums comes with a specialized soft cloth cleaning head that is great at cleaning all types of debris from any type of bare floor. This model won’t work well on carpets, but the Dyson Absolute options can.

A vacuum cleaner with a soft cloth brush is another effective way to clean bare floors. Instead of trying to mix and toss the debris like a regular brush roller does, the fluffy cylinder of the soft dust roller essentially engulfs the debris as it travels from the floor to the vacuum’s intake port. This design is perfect for everything from small, dusty waste to large garden waste such as leaves and mulch. Several brands make these cleaning heads, but we have the most experience with Dyson’s, which we think are the best. The cordless Dyson V8 Fluffy gets the job done (usually under $500), but it won’t work well on carpets because of the special head. If you need one vacuum that works on both bare floors and carpets, consider the Dyson V8 Absolute, which comes with a soft dust head and a separate standard hard brush head that works well on carpets.

You can also consider a robot vacuum cleaner. Most robovacs are great at cleaning bare floors—arguably better than any human-powered vacuum because they consistently work longer and without getting bored, find dust in hidden places that people don’t normally notice. Read more in our guide to the best robot vacuum cleaners.

Best Vacuum Cleaner For Hardwood Floors

Liam McCabe since 2013 covered all types of Wirecutter vacuums, including uprights and canisters, cordless wands, robot vacuums and handhelds. During that time, he tested more than 100 models on all types of surfaces, including many types of wood, linoleum, laminate and tiles. Michelle Ma wrote an earlier version of this guide.

Best Vacuums For Hardwood Floors Of 2023

Any decent vacuum cleaner can keep hardwood floors clean. However, keep in mind that a cheaper model may require two or three passes and may not pick up the smallest (fine dust) or largest (yard waste) waste. However, some features can make the job easier. As with any vacuum, strong suction and airflow go a long way in picking up debris the first time, especially very small or large items.

You also need a vacuum that doesn’t force you to always use a carpet brush. A rotating brush roll with stiff bristles is great for carpets because it agitates the carpet fibers, digging up hair and dust so the vacuum can pick things up. However, such a brush may not be productive on bare floors, as it scatters some debris before the vacuum can pick it up. In extreme cases, brushes that are too hard can scratch softer types of stone, tiles or wooden floors.

Most vacuum cleaners have an on/off switch for the brush rolls, so you can simply turn the brush roll off when cleaning bare floors and turn it back on when you switch to carpet. Some models have cleaning heads without brush rolls, and some have a special soft fabric brush roll specifically designed for cleaning bare floors – none of these types are suitable for carpets, although some models offer this option. to exchange different heads for different surfaces.

Some cleaning heads also have subtle features that help carry larger debris to the vacuum inlet. These features may include a small apron (or flap) on the sides or near the back of the head, side-mounted chests (or even small air intakes to cabinets from baseboards and corners), or gates at the front of the head to allow access to large debris (such as Froot Loops cereal).

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You can read more about what makes a powerful and versatile vacuum in our guide to plug-in upright vacuums and canisters.

The Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 is our pick for the best vacuum cleaner for seven years. This is a great vacuum for hardwood floors and carpets. The powerful suction cleans both surfaces very well, and smart design features make it easy to optimize the performance of each surface.

The Navigator lets you turn off the brush roll with the simple push of a three-position switch. When the brush is turned off, the vacuum does not spread debris on the bare floor.

Best Vacuum Cleaner For Hardwood Floors

You can disable the brush roll by turning the power switch to the bare floor setting. Photo: Michael Hession

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You can turn on the brush roll (seen here through the window on the vacuum cleaner head) if you need to dig dirt from the carpets. Photo: Sarah Kobos

In our tests on bare floors, the Navigator Lift-Away performed as well as any other machine, picking up cat hair, dried chickpeas, coffee grounds, shredded paper, sawdust and sand in multiple passes. I was particularly impressed by how quickly and completely the litter box was lifted off the bare floor (in one round trip). The Shark’s side suction (that is, its ability to collect debris from the left and right sides of the floor head) also stood out: it collected almost all the lenses and cat litter that we put in the corner and in front of the had spread. plinths, which even outperform some of the high-end vacuums we’ve tested.

The Navigator Lift-Away is also a great vacuum in many other important ways. At this price point, it’s lighter and easier to control than most uprights, and its low-profile cleaning head and pop-up canister can help you get into harder-to-reach areas than usual. We didn’t find it prone to clogging, and it separates in more places than most struts, so if it does, it’s easy to fix. The NV352 has been available for about 10 years, has above average reliability and durability, with many replacement parts usually in stock, and a five year warranty that Shark has honored quite well. The most common complaints are that it “snows” larger particles (think Froot Loops) by pushing them with the cleaning head instead of sucking them, and that it can reverse if you pull the hose too hard through the narrow cleaning head and extremely heavy body

To learn more about the Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352, check out our guide to the best upright and canister vacuums.

Don’t Use Water And Vinegar To Clean Hardwood Floors

We’re not really into super cheap vacuums, but if you’re just cleaning bare floors, this super simple vacuum will get the job done faster than a broom and isn’t much more expensive. It’s just a suction pump, not a brush roll for cleaning carpets.

Any vacuum without a brush roll works pretty well on bare floors – even a cheap box model like