Any vacuum can work on hardwood floors, but if you want a superior clean, then you need a model with bristles specific to hardwood. Harsher brush rolls that are great for pulling up dirt from carpets tend to scatter debris on hardwood, so softer bristles are preferred—and they won’t damage your floor’s finish. If you have both carpet and hard floors, then a good compromise would be a vacuum where you can turn the brush roll on and off depending on the surface. Some models even have sensors that switch between both settings seamlessly.
Vacuum cleaners can be big investments–and frustrating when they turn out not to work well for your space. Some research into what models will work best for your home and lifestyle can go a long way to ward off buyers’ remorse.
What Vacuums Are Best For Hardwood Floors?
Other than brush roll and bristle type, learn the pros and cons of different vacuum types to ensure you get a model that meets all the needs of your household. Vacuums are getting more and more versatile and convenient, so you might not need to invest in multiple machines to get the job done throughout your home.
Upright: The most common type of vacuum cleaner, with a tilt-and-push design, upright vacuums can work great for hardwood, as long as the brush roll has soft bristles or can be turned off. Models can be bagged or bagless, and heavy or lightweight, and some can convert to use as canister vacuums with their included accessories.
Canister: This tank-and-hose design typically accommodates a ton of different attachments, so you can use them to clean just about anything. Some canister vacuums can be heavy, but they have wheels to make lugging around easier compared to some heavy uprights.
Stick: Similar to upright vacuums, stick vacs are slimmer and lighter weight often in exchange for smaller motors and lower suction power. Cordless stick vacuums are especially great for quick cleanups around the house.
Handheld: Even more lightweight and portable are handheld vacuums, perfect for cleaning the couch, car, and tight corners. We especially recommend cordless models for extra portability, but you should try to opt for a model with at least 20 volts of power. For greater versatility, look for a two-in-one stick vacuum with a removable handheld machine.
Robot: These smart, cordless robot vacuums are programmable to clean even when you aren’t home. Their power won’t replace an upright or canister vacuum, but they’re a great option to help you save time on daily cleaning. They come with a wide range of technologies from bump-and-go to advanced lidar (light detection and ranging) floor mapping, as well as wide price ranges from $200 to over a $1,000.
How We Evaluated
To select the best vacuums for hardwood floors, we started by reviewing our own previous testing of handheld and robot vacuums. We also consulted five expert sources and recommendations from the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Cleaning Lab, which are based on the ASTM standard test methods used to evaluate vacuums. All of the models below have certain features that make them excel in homes with a lot of hardwood or other hard surfaces, like vinyl and tile. Finally, we also took into account consumer reviews from retail sites like Amazon.