Best Vacuum for Hardwood Floors (2018)

Written by James Hall | 0 Comments| Last Updated: June 7, 2018

If you have hardwood floors in your home, it's vital to choose a vacuum that cleans them effectively. This increases the floor's lifespan and keeps it looking new. In this article, we've listed the 5 best vacuums for hardwood floors to help you choose a great machine.

Our guide to the best vacuums for hardwood flooring

Hardwood floors have grown in popularity in recent years, as the style has rapidly come back into fashion. This has led to vacuum cleaner manufacturers designing models to meet the challenges of cleaning hardwood flooring.

What are the differences between vacuuming carpets and hardwood floors though?

The biggest is that hardwood provides much less friction. This can lead to vacuums pushing dirt and dust around, instead of sucking it up.

Gaps between floorboards also present a challenge to many vacuums. As the powered brush bar can't be used to agitate dirt on hard floors, the vacuum needs to rely on suction alone.​ Many vacuum cleaners fail to provide enough suction power to handle this.

Some vacuums are also at risk of scratching less durable hardwood floors. This shouldn't happen if the brush bar can be switch off, but is a concern for cheaper vacs or those without proper protection.​

For these reasons, we've put together a list of the best hardwood floor vacuum cleaners. Each of these models are excellent all-round vacuums and can clean almost any floor - but are particularly effective for cleaning wooden floorboards.

What Makes a Great Vacuum for Hard Floors?

Before we get to our recommendations, it's important to know what to look for in a hardwood vacuum cleaner. While many considerations are the same - such as weight, price and reliability - there are additional factors you need to be aware of.

  • Suction Power. All the best vacuum cleaners have strong suction power - but this is especially important if your hardwood floorboards have gaps between them. Stronger suction also makes a vacuum more effective at picking up larger debris, such as cereal. For hardwood flooring without gaps, however, you won't need such strong suction power.
  • Rolling Brushes. Powered brush bars are designed to dig deep into carpets to remove more dust and dirt. This isn't necessary for hardwood flooring - and can potentially scratch the surface. Powered brush bars may also scatter debris rather than suck it up. For this reason, look for a model either without a powered brush bar or one that can be switched off.
  • Wheel Padding. Another way the best hardwood vacuum cleaners prevent scratching is with padding around the wheels. This is more common on cylinder vacuums than uprights.
  • Attachments. Unless your home only has hardwood floors, the vacuum will need to clean a variety of flooring types. Hard floor attachments are a great way of making sure the vacuum performs on hardwood without sacrificing the power of a regular floor tool. Some vacuums also come with combi floor heads with settings for various floors.
  • Cordless or Corded. The choice between cordless or corded mainly depends on the size of your home and personal preference. If you need a vacuum for long cleaning sessions, a corded model is probably the best choice. For convenience and lightweight design, however, it's difficult to beat a cordless.

Aside from these considerations, you also need to think about your requirements.

For example, do you have pets? If so, a pet hair attachment for getting hair out of upholstery and stairs might be useful. What other floors do you have in your home? Will the vacuum clean effectively on all these surfaces? And does anyone in your household suffer from allergies? By answering these questions, you'll be more likely to get a machine that does everything you need.

What About Laminate?

Keep in mind that the best vacuum cleaner for hardwood floors is not necessarily a great machine for cleaning laminate. While there's often an overlap, the two types of flooring present slightly different challenges.

If you have a laminate floor - or combination of laminate and hardwood in your house - we recommend either the Miele C3 Cat & Dog (which excels on almost any floor) or Dyson V8 Absolute if you want a cordless. Both these models are great on both laminate and wooden floors.

5 Best Vacuum Cleaners for Hardwood Flooring

Now you know what to look for in a hardwood vacuum, here are five of the best options. Each of these vacuum cleaners provides outstanding cleaning performance on hardwood - but they aren't one trick ponies either. So if you have a mixture of floor types in your home, these models provide excellent all-round cleaning performance.

RankImageProduct NameTypePrice RangeRead More
#1
Miele C3 Cat & DogCylinder£££View Price
#2
Dyson V8 Animal + Soft Roller (Sold Separately)Cordless£££££View Price
#3
Vax Gator H85-GA-B10Handheld£View Price
#4
Shark Powered Lift Away NV681UKUpright£££View Price
#5
Dyson Ball Multi FloorCylinder££View Price

1. Miele C3 Cat & Dog (#1 Pick for a Hardwood Vacuum)

The Miele C3 Cat & Dog is a popular bagged cylinder vacuum - and it's one of the best models for hardwood cleaning. It provides excellent dust pickup and is great for pet hair. It's also available for a very reasonable price.


One of the best all-around vacuums is the C3 Cat & Dog

Miele C3 Cat & Dog

  • "A" rating for hardfloor pickup
  • Great for sucking up dust between floorboards
  • Effective for removing pet hair

This vacuum received one of our highest ever ratings for its all-round cleaning performance, but it excels on hard floors. With its 4.5 litre capacity, Active AirClean filter and turbo brush for deep cleaning cat and dog hair, there are very few tasks the C3 isn't suitable for.

When it comes to cleaning hardfloors, Miele's EcoTeq floorhead does a great job. It doesn't come with a powered brush bar so you don't need to worry about scratching. This floorhead is also useful for carpets - although for stubborn hair you'll want to switch to the turbo tool which has a powered brush bar.

Like most Miele vacuums, the C3 also provides excellent cleaning performance on almost any surface. So whether you have a mixture of floors or just hardwood, it makes quick work of jobs that other vacuums struggle with.

The only downside to the Miele C3 Cat & Dog is that it's not the best model for getting up larger debris such as cereal. It can still do a decent job, but you might need to adjust the floorhead settings to get effective pickup.

Overall, the Miele C3 Cat & Dog is one of the best vacuum cleaners we've ever reviewed - and its hardfloor pickup is outstanding. If you want a cylinder vacuum that's versatile enough for any flooring, yet excels on wooden floors, this is the one to get. Click here to view its price.

2. Dyson V8 Animal + Soft Roller (Best Cordless for Wooden Floors)

The Dyson V8 Absolute was our top pick for a cordless hardfloor vac - but Dyson has recently stopped producing it. Fortunately, you can get the same performance by combining the excellent V8 Animal with Dyson's Soft Roller cleaner head (sold separately).


Dyson V8 Animal

Dyson V8 Animal

  • Excellent all-round performance
  • Great suction for a cordless
  • 40-minute run-time
  • Purchase the "Soft Roller" head separately for best performance on hard floors

With a longer run-time and a more powerful motor than the previous V6, the V8 improves on what was already an outstanding vacuum. It's expensive - but there's little doubt it's the best cordless vacuum on the market at the moment. Most importantly for this article, it's compatible with Dyson's "fluffy" Soft Roller floorhead (sold separately) that's great for cleaning hardwood floors.

Like all Dyson cordless vacuums, the V8 features a long, rigid tube that can be detached to turn it into a powerful handheld. It has a 40 minute run-time (although this decreases if you use the turbo mode or motorised floor tool) and uses Dyson's whole machine filtration to prevent dust particles escaping.

One of the best features of the V8 Animal is the direct-drive floorhead. This a motorised tool that can be used on carpets, hard floors or stairs. It has a more powerful brush bar than previous Dyson cordless vacuums, so it digs deeper into carpets for a more thorough clean.

For best hardfloor performance, we recommend buying the separate Soft Roller cleaner head. This is one of the most innovative floorheads on the market, as the large roller can pickup both small dust particles and larger debris at the same time (unlike other vacuums which require you to adjust the height of the floorhead). The soft design also prevents scratching.

Additionally, the V8 series has the suction power to rival many corded vacuums, so it's capable of cleaning between floorboards. Plus it comes with a miniature motorised tool for pet hair.

In short, the combination of V8 Animal and Soft Roller floorhead is great for almost any type of cleaning. The lightweight cordless design and handheld mode also make it a versatile model. The biggest drawback is the price - this is one of the most expensive vacuum cleaners on the market. Click here to view the V8 Animal price and here for the Soft Roller.

Note: The soft roller cleaner head is also available on certain V6 models, such as the Total Clean. This model has a shorter run-time and isn't quite as powerful, but is still an excellent vacuum that's also cheaper. Take a look at our V6 comparison to see which versions come with the soft roller floor head, or our V8 Vs V6 page for an overview of the differences between the two models.

3. Vax Gator H85-GA-B10 (Best Handheld for Hardwood)

The Vax Gator H85-GA-B10 is a compact handheld vacuum cleaner that's considerably cheaper than others on this list. It doesn't have the suction power or battery run-time to rival full-size vacuums, but if you need a convenient vacuum for small cleanups it's one of the best options for hardwood floors.


The Vax Gator H85-GA-B10 is one of the best handhelds for hardwood floors

Vax Gator H85-GA-B10

  • Built-in crevice tool
  • 15-minute run-time
  • Decent hardwood pickup for a handheld

The Vax H85-GA-B10 is a lightweight vacuum cleaner that's designed for cleaning up spills on both carpets and hardfloors. It has a 0.3 litre capacity and can last for approximately 15 minutes on a single charge.

A useful feature is the built-in crevice tool. This can be extended when needed, making the Vax one of the more convenient handheld vacuums for getting into tight spaces.

The Vax also performs well on hardwood floors. ​It provides surprisingly good suction, so it's great for quick spot cleaning. It can even handle larger debris such as cereal or cat litter.

It's important to have realistic expectations of the H85-GA-B10 though. It's a small and inexpensive vacuum cleaner, so it doesn't come close to the suction power of other models. It also doesn't do a great job with pet hair, so it's probably not the right model if you have a cat or dog.

For small cleanups, however, it's a great option that's handy to have in the house. It's also one of the best handheld vacuums for hardwood floors. Click here to view its price

4. Shark Lift Away NV681UK (Best Upright for Hardwood)

The Shark NV681UK is an energy-efficient upright bagless vacuum that provides great performance on almost any surface. It feature's Shark's powered lift-away technology, which allows you to detach the cylinder for greater manoeuvrability, along with advanced features such as LED lights. The NV681UK is also great for cleaning hardwood floors, as you can switch off the rotating brush bar to avoid scratching.


Shark NV681UK

Shark Lift Away NV681UK

  • Powered brush bar can be switched off
  • Excellent suction power
  • Lift-away design for cleaning stairs and high areas

With its lift-away design and swivel steering, the NV681UK is easy to move around the house. A lack of mobility is a common complaint for upright vacuums, so this is a welcome design choice. The vacuum also comes with anti-allergen technology, 6.1kg weight and LED headlights to show up dust and dirt.

One of the best things about the Shark is its powerful suction. The vac is capable of getting rid of dust and dirt in floorboard cracks, plus it performs well on debris of any size. Importantly, you can switch off the powered brush bar for use on delicate surfaces.

A downside is that it's not as effective on laminate flooring as hardwood - especially with fine dust. So, if your home has a mixture of wooden and laminate floors, you might want to look at one of the other options.

Even so, we think the Shark Powered Lift Away is the best upright vacuum for hardwood floors. It's powerful, easy to use and provides great cleaning performance. Click here to view its price.

5. Dyson Ball Multi Floor

One of Dyson's latest vacuums is the Dyson Ball Multi Floor (which replaces the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Musclehead). It's a cylinder bagless vacuum cleaner that comes with the new self-adjusting "Pneumatic" floorhead. Most importantly for this article, it does a fantastic job at cleaning hardwood floors.


Dyson Ball Multi Floor

Dyson Ball Multi Floor

  • Self-adjusting floorhead
  • "Ball" design for greater mobility
  • Powerful suction

The Ball Multi Floor is a relatively heavy vacuum cleaner, at approximately 7.3kg, but makes up for this with a manoeuvrable "Ball" design. Dyson has got rid of its "Cinetic" filter design and gone back to standard filters, although the Multi Floor does an excellent job at keeping allergens trapped.

One of the best features is Dyson's "Pneumatic" floor head that automatically adjusts depending on the type of floor. This can save time if your home has a mixture of carpet and hardwood floors, as you won't need to replace the head. It's also great if you have rugs on your hardwood floors, as you can transfer between each surface without stopping.

The floor head provides excellent pickup on hardwood floors, while being low profile for cleaning under furniture. It's powerful enough to get rid of dirt stuck between floorboards and can also handle larger debris.

Other features include automatic cable rewind, foot-operated power button and a 1.5 litre dust capacity. ​It's also surprisingly quiet for a Dyson vacuum - although be aware that it doesn't include a turbo tool for pet hair.

A bonus is that the Ball Multi Floor is cheaper than many previous vacs from Dyson. With an RRP of £200, it provides great value for money.  Click here to view its price.

Note: If you have pets, we recommend the Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 instead. It's more expensive, but comes with a turbo tool that makes quick work of pet hair.​

Summary

Hardwood floors present a difficult challenge to many vacuum cleaners. Aside from being easier to scratch, it's common for a vacuum to push dirt across the floor rather than suck it up. Fortunately, the best vacuum cleaners for hardwood floors avoid these problems while providing excellent cleaning performance.

Our top recommendation for this type of flooring is the excellent Miele C3 Cat & Dog. The EcoTeq floorhead is great for hardwood and the vacuum ​excels at cleaning hair, dust and larger debris. If you're looking for a cordless, the combination of Dyson V8 Animal and Soft Roller cleaner head is the best option (although it's expensive).

Do you have any questions about choosing the best vacuum for hardwood floors? Let me know in the comments!​

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