Best Vacuums for Hardwood Floors

Extend the life and beauty of your floors with one of these winners from CR's tests

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Hardwood floors iStock-545101594

What’s the best way to care for hardwood floors? Vacuum manufacturers are answering that question with vacuums and features designed specifically for wood floors.

“If you need to clean only hardwood floors, you might be able to get away with just using a stick vacuum,” says Frank Rizzi, who conducts Consumer Reports’ vacuum tests. “Otherwise, opt for a more powerful vacuum, such as an upright or a canister.”

Whichever type of vacuum you choose, follow these tips to keep your wood floors looking their best. And if your current vacuum isn't cutting it, see below for eight vacuums that knock it out of the park in our bare-floor test.

Place a doormat outside entrances to keep people from tracking dirt and grit indoors. Establishing a no-shoes policy indoors will go even further toward preserving floors.

Use plastic or felt protectors under furniture legs to prevent scratches. When rearranging furniture, always lift pieces rather than sliding them.

In the kitchen, place a mat in front of the sink and range to avoid wearing out sections of flooring.

Don’t use a steam mop on hardwood floors. “Vapor can get pushed into cracks and crevices, causing cupping and a hazing of the finish,” says Brett Miller, vice president of education and certification at the National Wood Flooring Association.

For more information, see our vacuum buying guide and flooring buying guide and ratings.

Go to Consumer Reports’ 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider shopping tips, and much more.

CR’s take: In general, canister vacuums do a better job on bare floors than upright or stick vacuums because they’re less likely to disperse dust and debris while vacuuming it up. The bagged Miele Complete C3 Marin is the best of the best, sucking up sand like a champ. And it features a brush on/off switch, which minimizes the dispersal of dirt and protects the finish on hardwood floors. It also earns a Very Good rating in our carpet-cleaning tests.

CR’s take: Canister vacuums also come in bagless versions, which save you the hassle and expense of changing bags, though they often require additional filters that need to be replaced. If you like that trade-off, the bagless Miele Blizzard earns top scores for bare floors and earns an Excellent rating in our pet-hair test. The hose suction is pretty good too, which means you can use this vacuum on curtains or upholstery without harming the fabric.

CR’s take: Though canister vacuums have the edge overall in our bare-floor tests, there are some darned good uprights to choose from, including the top-rated Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150. In addition to earning an Excellent rating for pickup on bare floors, the vacuum also has exceptionally strong airflow through the hose, and it’s terrific at containing the dirt and debris it collects (rather than allowing particles to escape back into the room).

CR’s take: If you’d rather use a bagless vacuum for your hardwood floors, consider the top-notch Kenmore Pet Friendly Crossover 31220. It earns an Excellent rating for bare-floor cleaning, and it performs very well at picking up dust and debris—good if you have allergies. True to its name, it also does a superb job of picking up piles of Maine Coon cat fur, leaving little left on the floor.

CR’s take: Almost flawless performance—on bare floors and carpets alike—vaulted the Shark Rocket Complete with DuoClean HV380 to the top tier of our stick vacuum ratings. To make cleaning easy, this model has a sliding two-speed power switch on the side of the handle that allows you to seamlessly transition between carpet and bare floors. And it has a large dust bin that can be emptied in one step, which means fewer trips to the trash can to dump it out.

CR’s take: The nifty Black+Decker Smartech HSVJ520JMBF27 is a battery-powered stick vacuum that converts to a handheld vacuum with the touch of a button. It earns an Excellent rating for cleaning bare floors, and it performs well enough overall to land a spot on our list of recommended stick vacuums. We also like that the brush roll can easily be removed for cleaning. It’s equipped with a telescoping crevice tool for hard-to-reach places, and there’s a dusting brush tool to take care of wood furnishings—once your wood floors are gleaming.

CR’s take: Most of the robotic vacuums in our vacuum cleaner ratings earn an Excellent rating on our bare-floor tests. The Samsung Powerbot R7065 VR2AM7065WS/AA also gets top marks for cleaning carpet and working quietly. It’s aces at navigating a room, so you can set it and forget it. Not thrilled about the price? Check out our CR Best Buy, the Eufy 11S.

CR's take: Not all handheld vacuums can tackle pet hair with aplomb, but the Shark Ion aces that task. It's also a champ at cleaning bare floors, earning an Excellent rating at that and getting into hard-to-reach places. And it's not too shabby at cleaning carpet, either. The vacuum and all its attachments can be stored on the charging base, making it a real space saver. And at just 1.4 pounds, it's the lightest handheld vacuum in our tests. The only downside to its small size is the small dust bin, which may have to be emptied more than once if you have a sizable spill.

Home Content Creator Haniya Rae

Haniya Rae

I​’m interested in the intersection between design and technology​—whether for ​drywall or robotic vacuums—and how the resulting combination affects consumers. I’ve written about consumer advocacy issues for publications like The Atlantic, PC Magazine, and Popular Science, and now I’m happy to be tackling the topic for CR. For updates, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@haniyarae).