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Best Vacuums for Hardwood Floors

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

Homeowners continue to have a soft spot for hardwood flooring. Floor Covering News, an industry trade publication, reports that installation of hardwood flooring grew by almost 6 percent in 2016, primarily in new construction and renovated homes.

So what’s the best way to care for hardwood? 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 vacuum you choose, follow these tips to keep your floor looking its best.

Place a doormat outside entrances to keep people from tracking dirt and grit indoors. Establishing a no-shoes policy indoors will best preserve floors.

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

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

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.

Bagged Canister
Miele Complete C3 Marin

Miele Complete C3 Marin

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. Most of the vacuums included in this roundup also have that feature.

    Bagless Canister
    Kenmore 22614

    Kenmore 22614

    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 Kenmore 22614 is aces on hardwood floors and at cleaning up pet hair, and almost as good on carpet. Tool flow is also solid, so you can use this vacuum on your upholstery and curtains without harming the fabric.

      Bagged Upright
      Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150

      Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150

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

        Bagless Upright
        Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away XL Capacity NV755

        Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away XL...

        CR’s take: If you’d rather use a bagless vacuum for your hardwood floors, consider the top-notch Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away XL Capacity NV755. Bare-floor cleaning is superb, and it boasts an extra-large bin, good if your home collects a lot of dirt and dust. The “3-in-1” machine also converts from an upright to a handheld or a wheeled canister with the touch of a button.

          Corded Stick Vacuum
          Shark Rocket Complete with DuoClean HV380

          Shark Rocket Complete with...

          CR’s take: Almost flawless performance—on bare floors and carpets alike—vaulted the Shark Rocket Complete with DuoClean HV380 to the top 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 seemlessly transition between carpet and bare floors. And it has a large dirt bin—which means fewer trips to the trash can to dump it out—that can be emptied in one step.

            Combo Handheld/ Stick Vac
            Black+Decker Smartech HSVJ520JMBF27

            Black+Decker Smartech HSVJ520JMBF27

            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. Superb cleaning across bare floors earns it a place on our recommended list. 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.

              Robotic Vacuum
              Samsung POWERbot R7065 VR2AM7065WS/AA

              Samsung POWERbot R7065 VR2AM7065WS/AA

              CR’s take: Most of the robotic vacuums in our vacuum cleaner ratings do an excellent job on bare floors. The Samsung Powerbot R7065 VR2AM7065WS/AA also gets excellent 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 Ecovacs Deebot M88.

                Eureka Easy Clean 71B

                Eureka Easy Clean 71B

                CR’s take: A handheld vacuum is good to keep around for spilled cereal and other quick cleanups. The Eureka Easy Clean 71B corded handheld aces our bare-floors test, and its electric rotating brush adapts nicely for vertical surfaces. But it’s only mediocre on carpets.

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                  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).