The Best Vacuums for Hardwood Floors Keep Your Beautiful Planks Scuff-Free
We tested for weeks to find our favorites.
Published Mar 16, 2022 1:39 AM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
“If a tree falls in the forest…” begins a well-known thought experiment. IMO, the answer is quite clear: Yes, it makes a sound. But if a vacuum goes over hardwood and no one examines the floor afterward, does it leave a scratch? Well…that depends on what vacuum is being used. The wrong one can damage hardwood floors even as it picks up dust and debris. To protect newly installed or perfectly worn hardwood, opt for a vacuum that will keep it clean without scuffing those beautiful planks. After extensive testing, and with attention to solid design and great features, these are the best vacuums for hardwood floors we found on the market—read on for the details of these Domino-approved picks.
- Best lightweight canister: Bissel Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum
- Best luxe upgrade: Miele Blizzard CX1 Turbo Team Bagless Canister Vacuum
- Best small space or companion: Bluefeel Montanc Rechargeable Mini Vacuum
- Best multifunctional: Shark S2 Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright Vacuum
Best Lightweight Canister: Bissel Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum
Type: Canister | Weight: 9.1 pounds | Accessories: Two floor-heads (hard floor and carpets), crevice tool, dusting brush, telescopic extension wand | HEPA filter: No
What we like:
- Designed for hard flooring, with rubber wheels and a dedicated floor-head
- Compact but powerful
- Works just as well for small debris and larger particles
- Not as strong on rugs and carpets
- Cord is only 16 feet
Why we chose it: A small but mighty canister at a great price that will keep hard flooring clean and scratch-free.
If you haven’t used a canister vac in years and are picturing a screamingly loud behemoth, you’ll be pleasantly surprised (perhaps even shocked?) by this Bissel model. First of all, it’s smaller and lighter than a lot of its peers. It weighs just a little over 9 pounds and the canister isn’t much bigger than a basketball. I found it easy to carry and highly maneuverable on its wheels, which are rubberized to protect delicate flooring. It has features I’d grown used to from stick vacuums, like the power on/off button and the ability to increase or decrease suction power on the vacuum’s handle rather than the canister.
I was also very impressed by the suction; it picked up dirt and dust in areas I’d previously considered clean. This vac does a decent job on rugs and carpeting, but it really shines on hard flooring, thanks to soft bristles and the ability to pull up the debris that gets lodged between planks.
Best Luxe Upgrade: Miele Blizzard CX1 Turbo Team Bagless Canister Vacuum
Type: Bagless canister | Weight: 19 pounds | Accessories: Two floor-heads, dusting brush, upholstery tool, crevice tool. | HEPA filter: Yes
What we like:
- Very soft bristles for even the most delicate hardwoods
- Great suction and built-in HEPA filtration
- Ergonomic design
- Needs to be plugged in
- Definitely an investment
- At 19 pounds, it’s hefty
Why we chose it: High end doesn’t always mean high quality and high performance, but in this case it does.
In the age of cordless vacuums, it’s telling that when it comes time for a luxury upgrade, people are willing to forgo the convenience of cordless to get a Miele plug-in canister vacuum (as evidenced by its enduring popularity and devoted fans). But it’s not just about a brand name—though this brand is a favorite among industry experts—the Blizzard is a well-designed powerhouse.
The Blizzard offers serious protection against scuffs and scratches when it comes to hardwood floors. It features Miele’s parquet floor-head, which has delicate bristles and a double-swivel neck for hard-to-reach areas, plus rubberized wheels that glide across the floor.
It’s quiet enough that I first wondered if it was actually working correctly (it was), and powerful suction reduces time spent vacuuming the same spot over and over again. With a telescopic wand, a cord that self-retracts, and the ability to store the floor-head and tube upright instead of laying them on the floor, it was a joy to use. There are four suction speeds for different flooring types, plus an additional vacuum head designed for low- and medium-pile carpeting. While it is 19 pounds, those well-made wheels help offset the weight. It’s bagless for convenience but also has a powerful HEPA filter for a cleaner, ahem, cleaning experience.
Best Small Space or Companion: Bluefeel Montanc Rechargeable Mini Vacuum
Type: Cordless stick | Weight: 1.2 pounds | Accessories: One detail attachment and two extenders take it from a handheld to a longer stick vacuum | HEPA filter: Yes
What we like:
- Great design
- Powerful suction for size
- Ideal for a quick cleanup
- Extender is somewhat short
- Setup directions aren’t superclear
- Better for hardwood or tile
Why we chose it: This hand vac–turned–cordless upright packs a powerful punch in a small package.
Vacuums aren’t particularly well known for their design (why are they always purple?), and maybe that’s not really what’s most important when it comes to a machine developed to sweep up behind you. But once you see and use Bluefeel’s Montanc hand vacuum, you might be swayed to consider looks as much as function. This powerful little vac comes with an extender so you can use it as a cordless upright, and it picks up pet hair, entryway leaf debris, and stubborn dust bunnies like a champ. You can even use it to quickly suck up a smattering of bread crumbs off kitchen countertops and errant dill fronds from the back of a refrigerator. The canister is supereasy to unlock and empty, and it charges quickly on a sleek dock. The Montanc works as a great companion to a canister or larger cordless you don’t want to pull out of the closet, or as a solo option for a small apartment without rugs. It fully charges in two and a half hours and quickly recharges after short uses. The battery lasts 30 minutes when on low and 9 minutes on the high-power mode.
Best Multifunctional: Shark S2 Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright Vacuum
Type: Upright | Weight: 13.7 pounds | Accessories: Pet power brush, crevice tool | HEPA filter: Yes
What we like:
- A gentle enough floor-head for hardwood and powerful enough to handle carpeting and rugs, too
- Massive dust container and quality HEPA filter
- Known for longevity
- At 13.7 pounds, it’s a bit heavy
- Cord doesn’t auto-retract; you have to wind it yourself
Why we chose it: When it comes to functionality, Shark holds its own against higher-end models at a price that can’t be beat.
The S2 Navigator Lift-Away is beloved by pet owners and allergy sufferers alike; you’ll find it on “best of” lists and in the homes of budget-conscious clean freaks. It performed incredibly on both hardwood and carpets. But it doesn’t just tackle flooring well: The lift-away feature works well for stairs, blinds, curtains, and dusty shelves. The 30-foot long cord prevents constant plugging and unplugging, and while I generally love a cordless model, it is nice not to have to worry about whether the vac is charged or not.
This model has solid maneuverability and is one of the biggest dust canisters I’ve seen, but it is a bit heavy. If you’re used to cordless vacs or small canisters, it’s an adjustment. That said, with such powerful performance at a budget-friendly price, the S2 Navigator Lift-Away doesn’t have many competitors. The dedicated hard-floor setting is great, and having a powerful vacuum reduces the need to go over the same spot repeatedly, putting less wear on flooring.
How We Chose These Products
To find the best vacuums for hardwood floors, we looked for reputable brands at various price points, bypassing vacuums with documented unreliable performance or quality issues. After weeks of research, we sought the models that result in ecstatic, all-caps reviews and nods of approval from industry experts. But there’s nothing like testing a vacuum hands on to get a feel for how it works and whether it holds up at home. We ran each vacuum through a series of tests—on hardwoods, tile, and rugs, looking at how they picked up small and large debris and how easy they were to set up and empty, while keeping an eye on features that would better protect flooring, like dedicated vacuum heads and rubberized wheels.
Our Shopping Checklist
Types of Vacuums
Canister vacuums work particularly well on hardwood because they’re less likely than a cordless or an upright to push dust and debris around, rather than suctioning it up.
Uprights and canisters plug in, which leads to stronger power. A good upright vacuum has more versatility, covering hard flooring, low-pile rugs, and thick carpeting like dense wall-to-wall. Their flexibility makes them a favorite even as cordless and lighter models have gained popularity.
Cordless stick vacuums are lightweight and convenient, but not always as powerful as their plug-in counterparts on hardwood surfaces. That said, the most effective vacuum is the one you’ll actually use. The best vacuums for hardwood floors also depend on how much exposed wood flooring you have and what other types of floor coverings you’ll need to keep clean.
Dust Canister Capacity
Uprights will often feature the biggest canister capacity, followed by canister vacs and cordless vacs, which vary by model. A bigger canister needs to be emptied less frequently, which is especially convenient in large homes or for people with pets that shed a lot.
While upright and canister vacuums have many benefits, they’re heavier than their cordless counterparts. Our upright rec is 13.7 pounds, while our cordless option is a barely there 1.2 pounds (though it’s an especially tiny, lightweight model). Our canister recs range from 9.1 to 19 pounds, but the canister shape and handle placement often makes it easier to carry up a flight of stairs or roll across an apartment. And you’re not pushing and pulling the entire model with each sweep across the floor in the way you are with an upright.
The Bissel we like has a cord length of 16 feet, which sounds long on paper but feels a bit short when vacuuming. Our rec from Shark, by contrast, has a 30-foot-long cord, which covers more square footage before it’s time to unplug and find another outlet. Canister vacuums often have an auto-retract button for the cord, which our Bissel and Miele picks do, while the Shark upright model needs to be hand-wound, which is a bit tedious when you’ve got that much cord to deal with.
With hardwood floors, the best way to get rid of pet hair is a combination of strong suction and powerful airflow. That means a quality product that can stand up to repeated, regular use. But pets don’t just produce hair—they shed tiny dander particles. A regular vac will just recirculate these particles back into the air (which means they’ll end up on your floor again), but a vacuum with a HEPA filter is much better at trapping the likes of pet dander, pollen, and dust mites.
Attachments and Alterations
The best attachments are the ones that won’t just sit in the closet, and that means having them handy. Our Miele pick allows the small accessory brushes to ride along, and on the Bissel, they’re right by the handle. Our Bluefeel Montanc switches from an upright to a handheld, and the Shark we went with has a lift-away feature for cleaning things like curtains and stairs.
Q: I just installed hardwood floors. Will a vacuum scratch them?
Not if you get the right one. If your vacuum uses wheels, look for rubberized wheels that are gentler on the hardwood. A vacuum head meant for hard flooring with soft bristles will also prevent scratching. Suction settings for different flooring types are great, too, as hardwoods don’t need the same suction a thick carpet does. More generally, a quality vacuum will pick up more dust and debris in less time.
Q: Who has room for multiple vacuums? Can I use the same one for carpet, tile, and hardwood floors?
Yes, you could go for a multifunctional vacuum like the Shark model we recommend, above. Otherwise pay attention to accessories (as some vacuums come with two heads for different flooring types) and suction settings (which will allow you to transition from carpet to hardwood and back again).
Q: How else can I keep my hardwood floors in good shape?
Keep dirt at the door by investing in a good floor mat at the entry and enforcing a no-shoes-inside policy. That will reduce mud and debris that gets tracked in and prevent damage from heels. Use wood-safe cleaning products to keep wood in good shape and vacuum regularly to prevent gritty dirt from damaging the finish. Felt pads on the bottom of furniture will prevent scratches, too, and rugs in high-traffic areas are also a great way to protect delicate flooring.
The Last Word
A high-performance vacuum with a focus on hardwood-appropriate features will keep your beautiful floors in great shape while controlling dust and dander. Take care of hardwood floors today and they’ll be good-looking for years to come.