Hardwood floors have a reputation for being easier to clean than carpets. However, as we here at Best Pet Hair Vacuum know, they pose their own set of challenges to the pet owner!
On this page, you’ll find our in-depth reviews of three models we love for cleaning hardwood floors. We’ll take you through all of the important features which set them apart for us.
Below the reviews, you’ll find our handy buying guide for this category. We’ve compiled an easy list of important features and considerations to have in mind as you shop! It’ll help you figure out exactly what you’re looking for in your new cleaning machine.
Quick Comparison: Best Vacuums for Hardwood Floors
Why’s it so hard to vacuum hardwood flooring?
Pet fur tends to show up much more visibly against hardwood floors–making your floors look dirtier than they actually are. Pet fur also blows around on hardwoods, finding its way into corners and under furniture. Plus, without a proper vacuum, you’re missing all the dirt and hair that’s stuck between the floorboards.
The trickiest thing to deal with? By a long shot, it’s the fine dust and dander that sticks to the top of hardwoods. Wax and other finish materials tend to create a sticky collecting ground for all this fine material. It’s why so many floors can feel dirty under your feet even though you’ve just gone over them! You need something with the brushes and suction power to agitate and remove even the finest particles!
Most importantly, while many vacuums can be used on hardwood floors, not many actually should. So many scratch up finishes or even gouge floorboards when you use them! You need a cleaning machine that can pull pet hair and dirt from wherever it’s hiding, without damaging your floors!
The best models for hardwood floors are powerful enough to pull years’ worth of pet hair out from your hardwood floors. At the same time, they’re designed to protect your hardwoods from scratches and scuffing. (You can read on Tips on Cleaning Hardwood Floors)
Now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s get started with our recommendations!
Our Reviews of the Best Hardwood Floor Vacuum Cleaners
- Miele C1 Pure Suction
- Shark LiftAway Professional
- Miele Compact C2 Electro+
1. Miele C1 Pure Suction
Miele’s baseline offering is perfect for people with primarily hard flooring. We appreciate its superior German build quality and ingenious design features like adjustable suction and integrated air filtration in the dust bags.
The motor is powerful and adaptive, running at 300-1200 watts, depending on the setting you choose. At full blast, it’s more than powerful enough to suck years’ worth of dust and fur out from your floorboards. The added power makes it easy to clean around edges, as the Miele pulls hair to it–so you don’t have to chase hair down.
There’s a 6-setting control dial to adjust motor speed and suction. This helps you tailor it to different surfaces, like wood, tile, carpet, curtains, etc. To help you choose the right setting, there are icons next to the dial.
The variable floor tool works on both hard floors and low carpeting. It adjusts via a simple footswitch. Like the rest of the vacuum, it’s smartly designed at a level above the competition. It has rubber tires on the wheels, to protect the finish on your floors. There’s also a cloth strip in the center to catch any persistent, stuck-on hairs.
We found that the floor tool does exceptionally well on hard floors. It’s easy to maneuver around furniture, thanks to the neck joint. Its low profile also helps for cleaning under cabinets and chairs, among other things.
The telescopic wand is stainless steel and adjusts to suit your height and cleaning needs.
You have plenty of reach, with a 29.5 foot cleaning radius. The power cord retracts automatically when you’re done cleaning.
The C1 also includes a crevice tool, dusting brush, and upholstery tool. All of them can be stored onboard the Miele with a handy clip.
The Miele filters your air as you clean. Its air system is designed to trap allergens and fine particles before air is released from its exhaust vent. The filter is integrated into the dust bag so that you can change both at once.
The canister is simple and elegant. It doesn’t have any annoying protruding or breakable parts, and it’s not as cheap-looking as some of the competition. Unlike the competition, it also has rubber caster wheels to protect your hardwoods.
The Miele’s German build quality trumps its competitors. While models from Dyson and Shark up to $500 are all made of lightweight plastic, the Miele is made of hard, compressed plastic and metal.
It’s very quiet, thanks to the dense construction.
It’s also backed up by excellent warranty coverage. Both the motor and casing are insured for seven years, and the other parts are covered for one year. Just be careful to follow directions, and to resist tampering with anything under the bonnet. Some previous buyers who complained about the Miele had attempted their own maintenance, which ended up voiding the warranty. Don’t do this!
If you have wall-to-wall carpeting in your house, you’ll probably want something that has a better brush on the head. The C1 can’t handle much more than low area rugs and carpets.
Miele’s filter/dust bags are quite small and are fairly expensive.
There’s only one caveat to the German build quality claim. This latest C1 lineup is significantly cheaper than other Miele’s. That’s because it’s assembled in China from German-made parts. However, in our experience, there’s no noticeable difference in build quality. If you want a totally German Miele, look at the C2 series!
2. Shark Lift-Away Professional (NV370)
The Navigator is Shark’s top-selling model. It’s been extremely popular among online buyers thanks to its infomercial campaign and lots of great online reviews. The Lift-Away 370 (with premium brush roll) comes with one of our favourite attachments for hardwood floors and includes a separate brush head for dealing with carpets, too.
The Navigator is essentially two vacuums in one. You can use it as an upright for cleaning carpets and area rugs, with a beater brush head and superior maneuverability. Alternately, you can lift the canister off the body, and use the long extension wand and bare floor attachment to clean hardwood floors and tile. In this mode, the Navigator falls somewhere between a handheld and a canister vacuum cleaner.
The DustAway bare floor attachment is the perfect tool for cleaning your bare floors without damaging the finish on your hardwoods. It combines a suction head with a microfiber pad. The vacuum sucks up all the dirt and debris, and the microfiber cloth comes after to take care of microscopic dust particles and blemishes.
It’s easy to maneuver, thanks to a swivel joint on the brush head. This means you can reach hard-to-vacuum areas under tables, chairs, and between furniture. And when you’re in Lift-Away mode, you can reach pretty much anywhere using the extension wand. Best of all, the power cord alone gives you 30 feet of range.
We’re recommending the model with the premium brush roll since that attachment does a bit better on rugs and mats, as well as low carpets. It’s also certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute for safe use on all fibers.
The dust chamber is extra-large. As you probably know, that makes a big difference when you’re cleaning up clumps of pet fur. You can get an awful lot of fur packed into one chamber.
The strong suction system is completely sealed, to control allergens and help eliminate fine dust particles. The sealed air system also means the Shark won’t lose suction over time.
In addition to the main hard floors attachment, the wand also works with a crevice tool and dusting brush.
These models have had some durability issues in the past. The main problem reported by previous buyers is breaks in the hose. You’ll want to be careful not to kink anything. It’s cheap plastic, not the kind of metal/hybrid material you see from Miele’s or the like.
As you may know, Shark has a reputation for inexpensive products that don’t last terribly long. The Navigator is no exception and has a mixed track record for durability. However, we’re confident that the most recent update has much better performance and reliability than the original.
3. Miele Compact C2 Electro+
The C2 Electro+ is our top recommendation for people who have a mix of flooring types, including some hardwoods and carpets. We love Miele vacuums because they combine the 20th century build quality with 21st-century technology. This is no exception, as you’ll see! It’s powerful, versatile, and extremely convenient to use.
The Electro+ comes with two-floor heads. The Parquet 3 floor brush is ideal for hardwood floors, thanks to its thick, soft brushes. The Electro+ also comes with a powered ElectroComfort brush for tackling even the thickest carpets. It’s controlled right from the handle and is as quiet as the vacuum itself. This gives the Miele more versatility than our other two choices, without risking damage to your hardwoods by using a combination tool.
The canister and floor attachments roll on rubber wheels, to prevent scratches to your flooring. The canister is also a compact design, with a very small footprint that follows easily behind. It’s much more convenient for the average home than something massive like a Dyson. Plus, you can actually store the attachments inside the shell!
Lots of smart touches set this vacuum apart. On the body, there are two footswitches for power and the automatic cord rewind. All the attachments lock into place with little buttons. That’s a big plus over the non-locking, friction-based attachments that other brands use.
Best of all, the power is completely adjustable. There’s a simple rotary dial on the canister of the vacuum, which has graphics to show the different settings for curtains, carpet, and more.
It’s very quiet. The canister body works to mask much of the motor noise, even on the highest setting. Plus, there’s a special “quiet” setting on the power dial, for vacuuming while people are sleeping, or cleaning up during the big game.
We really appreciate the power and precision of Miele’s adjustable motor. It makes it much easier to clean different surfaces both safely and effectively.
The Electro+ includes three attachments: a crevice tool, upholstery brush, and a dusting brush. All three can be stored onboard and all three can help make your cleaning tasks even easier.
This model filters your air as it cleans. Plus, the filtration system is built into the dust bags, which self-seal as you remove them. While the dust bags are small, the power of the vacuum means that debris compresses as it fills the bags, helping each one go a bit further.
It’s built and assembled entirely in Germany, from high-end materials. That’s especially remarkable given that pretty much every other vacuum on the market is made in Asia from lightweight plastic.
The build quality is covered by a seven year warranty on the motor and casing, with one year of coverage for the other parts and attachments.
It’s expensive. While its build quality and function are superior to most other canister vacuums, some people simply won’t want to pay several hundred dollars for a vacuum.
4. Miele H1 Quickstep
Stick vacuums are some of the most popular options for folks who have hardwood floors. So long as you don’t have any serious carpeting, they’re a practical and convenient choice! The problem is, most of them are built too cheaply to keep your hardwoods safe. Their cheaply made plastic wheels will scratch up finishes in no time. Plus, most stick models that we’ve used can’t hold any practical amount of pet fur.
The Miele H1 Quickstep is a happy exception! It’s certainly more expensive than some other stick models, but it’s still well cheaper than a Dyson. What’s more, it’s made as well as any of the Miele’s here, and better than the pricier Dyson stick models!
We love the Quickstep because it has a unique roller instead of wheels–rubberized to keep hardwoods safe. The bristles have smartly placed gaps to keep fur from clumping up, and the bags keep everything nicely contained. This is a premium stick vac that will serve anyone with pets well! It’s ideal for anyone who lives in a smaller home where a canister system isn’t necessary.
How to Shop for the Best Vacuum Cleaner for Wood Floors
Don’t underestimate the importance of power
You already know that carpeted floors require lots of suction power to bring dirt and hairs up from under fibers. Hard flooring seems easier to clean, right?
However, hardwood floors need lots of suction, too. While many vacuums will clean surface hair and dirt, only powerful vacuums will pull the years of ground-in dirt and hair from between the individual floorboards. This is especially important if you gave older hardwood floors with incomplete seals.
And as we mentioned before, there’s a fine layer of microscopic dust and dander which accumulates right on the surface of boards. You’ll need lots of power to lift off that stuck-on material.
Make sure your vacuum has a powerful motor, as well as a flooring attachment that focuses suction on the floorboards themselves. With hard flooring, it’s all about finding something with an effective suction lock!
Make sure to protect your floors
As we’ve just said, it’s important to find a powerful vacuum for your hardwoods and other hard surfaces. The danger is that many more industrial vacuums have hard rubber wheels and attachments which can scratch and damage hardwood floors.
The trick is to find powerful suction in a package which treads lightly on your wooden floors. We suggest finding vacuums with rubber wheels, and floor attachments with padding or smooth brushes.
In general, upright vacuums aren’t a good choice for hardwoods. They have stiff brushes that are great for carpets, but which can also scuff hardwoods–even when they’re not turning.
The more you pay, the more you’ll get in terms of flooring protection. That’s because higher-end models have nicer parts, like soft rubberized wheels instead of hard plastic, and natural brush bristles instead of nylon. The nicer your flooring, the nicer your vacuum (or at least the main attachment) should be!
Look for attachments to help you find hidden clumps of dust and fur
Pet fur and dirt tends to blow around on hardwoods and accumulate in corners, under furniture, and in nooks and crannies. You’ll want to find a vacuum that has a few attachments for finding all the dust bunnies and fur balls that are lurking in areas that are harder to reach with a floor head.
Crevice tools and dusting brushes are the most common attachments, and you should expect them as standard. Additional tools can be helpful for grabbing fur out from under appliances or furniture where the main suction head won’t fit.
If you’re cleaning nice molding and woodwork around the house, be sure to choose something with a suitable dusting brush! Dusting brushes with stiff nylon bristles aren’t good for nice woodwork. Instead, try to get something with softer natural bristles.
Which Vacuum is Best for Your Home?
If you have all hardwood flooring, we think you’ll be more than satisfied with the Miele C1. The C1 is a no-nonsense canister vacuum that opts for solid, best-in-class build quality over lots of extra features and gadgets. It has more than enough power to reach between floorboards and pull pet hair from the corners of a room. The C1 also comes with a few basic attachments for cleaning above and around your floors. We particularly like that the C1 offers German durability for a more affordable price than other Miele vacuums. It’s priced about the same as an all-plastic Dyson canister.
If you’re on a tighter budget, we suggest the Shark Navigator. It’s about half the price of the Miele C1 and performs pretty well on hardwoods and carpets alike. One of the top-selling points for us is the dual floor heads. The Hard Floor Genie attachment cleverly combines a vacuum head with a sweeper cloth to clean and buff your hardwoods at the same time. The other floor head has powered brushes to handle carpets and rugs. We think the Shark is the best affordable choice for vacuuming all sorts of floors and surfaces.
For the best overall quality and versatility, we suggest taking another look at the Miele C2 Electro+. We highly recommend this one to buyers who have many types of flooring in their house, who want a smart, sophisticated machine to handle everything they can think of to vacuum.
It has the same adjustable power settings and German build quality as the basic C1 but adds a deluxe, dedicated parquet brush and a powered carpet head. While it’s fairly pricey, we think it’s a worthy investment for people who are looking for a vacuum to last for years. With a 7-year warranty, it’s guaranteed to do just that!
Common Hardwood Floor Mistakes
In addition to not cleaning the hardwood floors enough, there are several other mistakes homeowners make that can cause their flooring to look less than its best. Wearing your shoes at home is a good way to track in dirt, debris, and a host of other things that can cause your floors to become dirty or even scratched and damaged.
These dirt particles can be very abrasive and with enough time they can cause fine scratches and can make the surface of the floors begin to look dull and worn.
Another common mistake is not vacuuming the hardwood floors enough. You need a good vacuum cleaner with adequate suction and cleaning power to get into those cracks and crevices for a more thorough cleaning.
A canister vacuum with a brush and crevice attachment is ideal. When using your upright, be sure to turn the brush roller off before using the attachments, or you can damage the floors.
Finally, waiting too long to clean up spills and other messes can also effectively dull the finish of your hardwood floors, and the mess can also attract more dirt and dust particles. Use a damp paper towel to clean up the mess and dry the floor and then vacuum to make sure you pick up any remaining dirt and debris.
What to Remember When Vacuuming Hardwood
When you are looking for the best vacuum to clean your hardwood flooring, it is important to keep in mind that the overall quality and the type of vacuum you choose will make a significant difference. Vacuums are helpful with those small crevices and cracks and have proven time and time again that they can remove more dirt and dust than mopping the flooring alone.
You want a vacuum that allows you complete control and one that can reach those hard to reach corners and nooks and crannies. Canister vacuums with a long, oval floor brush attachment are one of the best vacuum types to use because no rotating brush can damage the floor.
Vacuum your hardwood flooring at least once per week to keep the dirt and dust particles under control and away from your beautifully finished hardwood flooring.
We hope this guide has been helpful in your search for your ideal new vacuum! You can read more about any of the models you’ve seen here by clicking on the vacuums if you’re still looking for the perfect vacuum our top-rated vacuums!