Like granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors are a timeless classic in the home. However, as nice as it looks, hardwood flooring is much more temperamental than carpet when it comes to caring for and cleaning it. There are plenty of devices that are specifically designed with the sole task of cleaning hardwood floors, but sometimes you don’t have the budget, the space, or the inclination to have multiple styles of floors cleaners. If your go-to is a vacuum—because you also need to clean carpets and upholstery—we’re here to help.
We tested a bunch of different vacuums ranging from cordless to robotic to find ones that are worth your time and money. During the testing process, we specifically investigated each vacuum for its ability to pick up debris and dirt off hardwood flooring without being too rough to its surface. If you’re looking for a true all-in-one vacuum, we suggest our winner, the Miele U1 Cat & Dog(available at AJ Madison). The U1 brings power, handling, and utility while also being gentle.
Here are the best vacuums for hardwood floors we tested, ranked in order:
Miele U1 Cat & Dog (upright)
iRobot i7+ (robot)
Dyson V11 Torque (cordless)
Shark Apex DuoClean ZS362 (lightweight)
Eufy G30 Edge (robot)
Hoover UH71250 (upright)
Black & Decker HFS115J10 (lightweight)
Oreck Commercial XL2100RHS (upright)
Bissell Hard Floor Expert 1547 (canister)
Miele C1 (canister)
Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog
If you’re willing to invest in an upright vacuum that's going to last, we recommend spending a little more on a Miele. No matter which model you pick, the Miele Dynamic U1 line of high-end upright vacuums look and feel like nothing else out there. It’s the quintessential example of a German-made staubsauger.
Each product contains weights so it resists tipping over, even when you're tugging on the hose. It also has a magnificent swivel joint, allowing the vacuum to easily move with you. This means it’s less likely to accidentally slide and scratch your hardwood floors.
The U1 also has a number of other features that make it ideal for cleaning hardwood. The LED headlights on the brush head illuminate the floor to help spot where the dirt is, which can be difficult if you have hardwood that is deeply textured.
Finally, the U1 has a variety of cleaning modes, including Smooth for hardwood. During testing, this vacuum acquitted itself well on the carpet and the hardwood. It picked up over 70% of our testing dirt on carpet and 92% of all debris off our hardwood testing platform.
The U1 is a champ in multiple categories, including best upright vacuum cleaners. In short, it’s one of the best models we’ve ever tested, period.
If you don’t find vacuuming relaxing or satisfying, consider getting a robot vacuum cleaner. In our experience, the iRobot i7+ is the way to go. While it is expensive, the i7+ boasts excellent cleaning, navigation, and the ability to empty itself into a self-sealing bag for up to 30 days. The i7+ also works in conjunction with the Braava Jet M6 robot mop. You can set it so that once the robot vacuum finishes cleaning, the mop will automatically activate to make your floors shine.
The i7+ also comes with a free app that lets you virtually cordon off areas of your home or instruct the robot to clean specific places at certain times. For example, if you have kids that come home from school every day at 3 PM, you can program your iRobot to clean the atrium every day at 3:15. This is preventative maintenance 101 and saves you tons of money down the road.
I’m Jon Chan, the Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed. It’s my job to test and write about products ranging from coolers to laundry detergents. Along with my colleague Kyle Hamilton, we tested all the vacuums in this guide.
Even though vacuum cleaners aren’t the big metal boxes that we usually test in our appliance lab—such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, or ranges—we still test them in such a way so that we can have both reproducible performance data and information that will be useful to our readers. We assess on the performance, features, and usability of each vacuum cleaner.
A good vacuum cleaner should be able to remove both fine dirt/dust and larger debris from your floor surfaces. We push each vacuum cleaner to its limit by making it clean up four types of messes: our homemade “dirt” made from sieved sand and baby powder; piles of pet hair; rice grains; and raw macaroni.
To get a feel for how each product performs on different floor surfaces, we test these vacuums out on two swaths of carpet (high pile carpet and low pile carpet) and on a linoleum floor surface.
We also think it’s important to see how a vacuum cleaner performs in circumstances that are more difficult than a bare floor. For edge cleaning, we place a 2’ x 4’ piece of wood along the edge of our test carpet area, sprinkle baby powder on the carpet, and run the vacuum cleaner with one side of the vacuum head pressed against the wood. Ideally, the vacuum should pick up all of the baby powder without leaving a strip of white dust next to the wood.
Additionally, we also test how easy it is for the vacuum cleaner to clean dirt or dust bunnies that have collected under furniture. Using a wooden dowel suspended at different heights, we push the product forward until the top of the vacuum hits the dowel to determine how far a given vacuum can extend under a piece of furniture.
With these performance tests, we can determine how well a vacuum cleaner will perform when it comes to cleaning all of the surfaces, nooks, and crannies in your home.
For this buying guide, we built a special platform in our lab to simulate hardwood flooring. After doing some research, we decided to use laminate wood flooring, because of its ubiquity in American homes and for the ease of replacing any of the boards if they got scuffed or scratched.
We focused our tests on finding and cleaning debris on this platform.
Features and Usability
If you’ve ever used a vacuum cleaner, you know that the overall experience of vacuuming is more than just how much dirt is removed. When we score these vacuum cleaners, we also consider the vacuum’s noise level, attachments, cord length, weight, dirt capacity, warranty, mobility, battery life (if it’s a cordless, robot, or hand vacuum), and overall user experience. If a vacuum can both clean up a lot of dirt/debris and make the cleaning process hassle-free, it will make its way towards the top of our ranking system.
What You Need to Know About Vacuums for Hardwood Floors
What is Different About Cleaning Hardwood Floors Versus Carpet?
Unlike carpet, hardwood floors typically have a finish on their surface that protects them—but it can also get damaged over time. There are additional unique flooring materials like teak and bamboo (technically a grass) that are much more fragile than most wood floors.
When vacuuming hardwood flooring, you want an easy-to-move model that has variable suction and soft bristles.
Hardwood can also be much more textured than carpet. For example, wood floors can have cracks, odd spaces, or be patterned like parquet floors. In these cases, a good vacuum for a hardwood floor needs to have mini brushes and crevice tools to clean out the gaps.
Should I get a Bagged or Bagless Vacuum Cleaner?
Bagged vacuums often offer better filtration and dust management. When you empty a dirt cup from a bagless vacuum, a percentage of the dirt gets back into the air. However, bagged vacuums get emptied less and can develop a bad odor.
What Does Paying More for a Vacuum Get Me?
Considering our experience, we have an understanding of what you get for your money. In the sub-$100 category, every extra dollar you spend usually goes towards more power. Of the models we tested at this price range, all of them carry the same bare-minimum array of attachments.
When you spend a bit more, around $100 to $300, you start to see stratification in usability and features. We’re talking about more attachments, better joints so the vacuum moves with you, and better warranties.
Anything above the $300 range is showing for a premium market. When we test these vacuums, we’re looking for brush heads that won’t scratch delicate flooring, designs that won’t tip over, and motors with enough power to tackle the thickest of carpets.
The major exception is the robot vacuum market. A mid-range robot costs around $300 and an expensive one is around $700 and up. As you go up in price, you get features like self-emptying and more options in the app.
Your cleaning style should also match your lifestyle. For example, if you live in a small apartment and spend lots of time in your car, you should shift your budget toward a cordless vacuum. Do you have a multi-level home with mostly hardwood floors? A canister vacuum is going to serve you the best.
Other Vacuums for Hardwood Floors We Tested
Dyson V11 Torque Drive
The Dyson V11 Torque Drive is a no-compromise cordless stick vacuum. It has powerful cleaning, great battery life, and features you won’t find anywhere else.
The V11 Torque Drive has two major features that set it apart from all other cordless vacuum cleaners: an LCD screen on its back and automatic suction adjustment.
The LCD screen lets you know how much battery life you have left down to the second. This feature ensures you’ll never be caught short while vacuuming between cushions.
The V11’s self-adjusting suction feature is a little more subtle. When you’re cleaning, it lowers or increases the amount of suction based on the type of surface you’re cleaning. This increases battery life and helps keep this Dyson from scratching your hardwood. You can also push a button to choose itself.
Shiny new toys aside, the V11 Torque Drive is a stick vac that aces the basics. Our testing shows that this Dyson picked up 95% of the dirt we laid out for it. The large debris tests also impressed us: A lot of vacuums just plow crumbs from one side of the room to the other, whereas the V11 has specialized gaps in its brush head to ensure pickup. It also has specially designed bristles for hardwood. Made of carbon fiber, these bristles disrupt static that causes dust to adhere to wood floors.
The only downside is that the Dyson V11 Torque Drive is as expensive as the top-tier models in this guide.
The DuoClean in Shark DuoClean is a second brush roll that goes in front of the head. It’s super soft, so there’s little chance that they’ll scratch your hardwood. The brush head also has bright LED lights to help you spot dirt and debris.
The ZS362 has the compact design of a cordless and the unlimited power of a corded model. So it can do upholstery, car floors, and still get your hardwood floors shining.
Pet owners will also like the fact that the brush behind the DuoClean is designed to never get tangled with hair. So, people with a furry friend, hardwood floors, and a small home will want to check out the Shark ZS362 Apex DuoClean.
Eufy is a company known for its affordable and high-value robot vacuum cleaners. The G30 Edge is a prime example. It’s a workhorse with no-frills. The titular Edge are the two magnetic boundary strips you can place down to keep the Edge from wandering into sensitive areas.
This model is also compatible with the Eufy Home app that allows you to start, stop, and schedule your robot.
As far as hardwood floors go, the Edge is a solid choice. It’s lightweight, just 5.8 pounds, and has good navigation. During testing, we found that it seamlessly climbed atop our 2/3-inch threshold with no issues, which is important if you have a textured floor.
Overall, we found the Edge gave adequate results for every one of our tests, just nothing extraordinary.
Hoover is a brand synonymous with vacuuming. The Hoover WindTunnel 2 Whole House Rewind is a prime example of this. It weighs in at a whopping 18 pounds—one of the heaviest vacuums we’ve ever tested.
In exchange for all the weight, you get a competent vacuum. Our test results show that the Rewind is powerful, picking up 50% of our dirt mixture of our testing carpet in a single pass. When you switch to hardwood, you can deactivate the brush to prevent it from scratching, but still get powerful suction.
We found its namesake rewind function to be super useful. At a tap of a foot lever, the 25-foot cord automatically gets sucked back into the unit, making storage a cinch.
Because the Whole House Rewind is heavy, can’t really turn on a dime, and has stiff bristles, we can only recommend it for tougher hardwood floors.
The Black & Decker HFS115J10 is an electric floor sweeper rather than a vacuum. However, we decided to include it in this guide after testing it because we feel like it’s such a good value.
At its core, we think the HFS115J10 will serve you best as a spot cleaner. It’s super light at just two pounds, and it has a 50-minute battery life. During testing, we found the four-inch profile and 360-degree swivel head lets it clean under most furniture. It’s perfect for getting that runaway Cheerio under the table.
We’ve read a fair number of online reviews of users dealing with their sweepers breaking down. We did not experience this during testing. However, the number of one-star reviews we found does give us pause, but it’s balanced out by the fact that the HFS115J10 comes with a two-year warranty.
The Oreck XL2100RHS is a basic, solid floor cleaner. Its hyper-focused design includes no attachments or hoses to clean countertops or curtains. Weighing in at just over 10 pounds, we found it easy to lift this vacuum onto and up the stairs, and it’s easier on your hardwood. Its five-inch profile is low enough to fit under most beds and some couches.
During the cleaning tests, the Oreck picked up 30.25% of the testing dirt per pass on our carpet tests. Normally, this would be lower than what we like to see, but the XL2100RHS is so light that we think it’s powerful for its size.
The Bissell Hard Floor Expert has a few really interesting features going for it. First, it has a hard floor turbine that can switch between carpet-cleaning mode and hardwood-floor mode at a tap of a foot. It’s lightweight, tipping the scales at just 13 pounds. Also, it has quiet operation.
However, during testing, we found the canister to be a little tipsy. Oftentimes, when we were cleaning and gave it a good tug to reposition, it would fall over.
It’s a little strange to have a Miele vacuum at the top of the list and one at the bottom. But even though the C1 ranks lower on this list, it’s not a bad vacuum. In fact, we think it's a pretty good vacuum. It outperformed Bissell and Hoover in multiple categories, but it’s tough to justify the price to an American consumer.
We liked the Combination Rug and Floor Tool and the Parquet head, both of which feel sturdy and well designed. The Parquet head, in particular, is interesting because it’s designed to clean a textured and patterned surface.
As a canister, we found it to be heavy like the U1 but not very maneuverable. We understand you don’t usually drag your canister vacuum around haphazardly. However, it only takes one accidental skid to create a costly repair.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.