Hardwood floors make any space look a little nicer, but they do require some special care to keep them looking new. That means a good cleaning regimen including, importantly, a great vacuum for hardwood floors.
But what makes a vacuum great for hardwood floors? For starters, you'll want a vacuum with soft bristles — and you can even get away with a vacuum with no brush roller at all. Brush rollers are great for cleaning plush carpeting, but can cause fine scratches on wood flooring. For safety, make sure your hardwood vacuum either has multiple brush rolls or attachments for carpet vs. hardwood, or an option to turn the brush-roll off. A good hardwood vacuum will also have strong suction to do a better job getting into the crevices between the planks of wood.
How we test vacuums
Here at the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, we continually test all types of vacuums, from canister vacuums to robot vacuums to handheld vacuums, for how well they remove dirt deeply embedded into pile carpet and simulated pet hair evenly spread on a carpet’s surface. We also look at how well they remove large and small debris from hard flooring like hardwood, tile, or linoleum, how well they clean along floor edges and how effective their suction is. We also test them for ease-of-use and cleaning or emptying, maneuverability and weight and battery run-time for cordless vacuum cleaners. Based on our findings, these are our favorites to keep those hardwood floors dust and scratch-free. Here are the best vacuum cleaners for hardwood floors in 2021:
- Best Overall Vacuum Cleaner for Hardwood Floors: Miele Compact C1 Turbo Team Canister Vacuum
- Best Value Vacuum Cleaner for Hardwood Floors: Swiffer Sweep and Vac Vacuum Cleaner
- Best Bagless Canister Vacuum for Hardwood Floors: Bissell Hard Floor Expert Canister Vacuum
- Best Cordless Vacuum Cleaner for Hardwood Floors: Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cord-Free Vacuum
- Best Robot Vacuum Cleaner for Hardwood Floors: iRobot Roomba i7+
- Best Floor Washing Vacuum Cleaner for Hardwood Floors: BISSELL CrossWave Floor and Carpet Cleaner
- Best Cordless 2-in-1 Vacuum Cleaner for Hardwood Floors: Black + Decker PowerSeries Pro 2-in-1 Cordless Vacuum
- Best Compact Stick Vacuum for Hardwood Floors: Dyson Omni-Glide
- Top performer for picking up dirt and debris in our tests
- Brush roll can be turned on and off from handle
- Has telescopic wand
- More expensive than some other canister vacuums
Designed to clean low- to medium-pile carpet as well as all types of hard floors, this Miele Canister is a lab favorite. Miele Canisters consistently top our tests by proving ultra-powerful and are best at picking up and trapping dirt and debris from carpet and bare floors.
This model has a telescopic wand and tools to tackle hard-to-reach spots. You can turn the brush roll on and off from the handle and adjust the head height by tapping the foot pedal.
- Easy to maneuver
- Need to buy Swiffer pad refills
This rechargeable, cordless appliance combines the benefits of a Swiffer with the suction of a vacuum. The dry sweeper gets into crevices and picks up fine debris that traditional vacuums can miss and the vacuum is good for larger debris. One Amazon reviewer says, "I have two other competitor vacuum type products that are going to the garage sale. I'm amazed at how light, how powerful (but still quiet) and maneuverable."
- Air-powered soft brush to help protect floors
We love this vacuum’s unique, air-powered soft brush that’s gentle on wood floors while still removing dirt and debris from crevices. The brush sweeps away particles in the wood floor crevices so they can be vacuumed up without scratching the floor like other vacuum brushes. It’s compact design also makes it easy to carry from room to room. Though we haven’t tested this model, Bissell vacuums always do well in our Cleaning Lab tests and have impressively innovative features.
- Suction automatically adjusts to floor type
- Displays run-time
- More expensive than other vacuums
This vacuum automatically adjusts its suction according to whatever surface you're vacuuming, whether you're running it over high-pile carpet or a wood floor. It also comes with a screen that shows you how much run-time is remaining and how to fix any mechanical problems your vacuum may experience.
- Dispenses debris into the base
- Easy and not messy to empty
- More expensive than other vacuums
Sure, it does the usual things like pick up pet hair and clean under the bed, but that's just the beginning. Whenever Roomba finds its way "home," it dispenses the debris it's collected into the base so it's ready to go again. It's easy to program and we love the sealable, replaceable dust bag in the base. It isn't messy to empty like other robots are, so it's perfect for allergy sufferers.
- Picks up debris and cleans floor simultaneously
- Cord is not retractable
The Bissell CrossWave is a unique floor cleaning appliance that uses a soft brush roll with one row of stiff bristles, suction and a rear-mounted cleaning solution and water tank to vacuum up dry and wet debris from hard floors and low pile rugs. It dispenses a cleaning solution to wash and remove dirt and stains from these surfaces, including hardwood.
In our tests, the CrossWave quickly and easily picked up the staining debris and thoroughly cleaned the flooring in just a few passes without smearing the soil or staining adjacent areas.
- Can remove canister and hose to vacuum hard-to-reach places
- Automatically adjusts suction for floor type
- Some debris can get stuck in wheels
We love that this combo 2-in-1 vacuum has a removable canister and hose that makes it convenient to vacuum hardwood floors, stairs, ceilings and other hard-to-reach places. Plus it's foolproof to use because it automatically adjusts suction for bare floor (or thick carpet). Testers liked that it has touch controls, a 34-minute run time and a compactor for dust that means less frequent empties. During our analysis it picked up almost 99% of debris, but a few bits got stuck on the wheels. The canister can be used with attachments, including a 3-in-1 nozzle, a crevice tool and an upholstery brush that all clip on so you always know where they are.
- Moves in any direction
- Soft rollers do not scratch floor
- More expensive than some other stick vacuums
When we tested this Dyson stick vacuum at home, we were impressed how well it worked on wood floors. It has two soft, fluffy rollers, goes in any direction and is just the perfect size for stair treads, the edges of the room and around area rugs. The soft rollers pick up large debris and fine particles with ease, all without scratching the wood floor. Plus, it's lightweight and rechargeable.
There’s no one size fits all for vacuums for hardwood floors, different vacuums will suit different needs. Here’s what to look for when shopping for a hardwood floor vacuum:• Look for brush rollers or attachments specifically for hardwood floors. These soft brushes will sweep away debris from the cracks and crevices between wood floor boards and nab the finest dust particles for a more thorough cleaning. Brush attachments are also usually low enough to get to the hard-reach-places like under furniture. If a model with a rotating brush is your only option, look for a vacuum that has a switch to turn the brush off. The downside is that it won’t be as effective at sweeping away debris from deep crevices.• Strong suction power is important in a good hardwood vacuum. Not only will good suction power pick up large debris, but it will also pick up pet hair and fine dirt or dust, and it will do a better job of nabbing particles lodged between the planks of wood.• Each style of vacuum will suit different needs. Cordless vacuums are ideal for someone that finds themselves switching rooms frequently while vacuuming. Canister vacuums are extremely versatile and do a great job cleaning floors, stairs, furniture, lamp shades and more. A robot vacuum will do the vacuuming for you with a push of the button. Stick vacuums are often convenient to store, taking up little storage space and tend to be lightweight.•Consider the weight of the vacuum. Be sure to check the weight of the vacuum and take into consideration how much weight you’re willing to push around while vacuuming, carry up and down stairs or room to room.
Yes! In fact, hardwood floors should be vacuumed regularly to remove the fine dirt and debris that can dull the finish and get lodged in the cracks and crevices. Frequent vacuuming is one of the best ways to care for them!
While sweeping is a great way to clean up large debris, it’s best to vacuum hardwood floors to get rid of fine dust and particles that sweeping may miss, especially in the wood floor crevices.
• If you see a light scuff, buff it out with a sock or clean, fuzzy, tennis ball.
• To remove heavier scuffs, apply a little baking soda to a damp cloth and gently rub the mark until it disappears. Rinse with a damp paper towel and buff dry.
• If floors start to look worn, it's time to refinish them and call in a pro.