In this Guide
A lot of people think that carpets are the hardest floors to vacuum. That might be true in some senses, but hardwood floors present plenty of their own challenges!
Years’ worth of dirt, hair, and dust can get ground in between floorboards. Plus, lots of woods attract dust like nobody’s business. It can stick to the surface, and evade lesser vacuums. Worst of all, many vacuums can scratch your valuable hardwoods.
The best vacuums for hardwood floors have powerful suction to pull ground-in crud from between floorboards, and thick brushes to protect the finish on your wood. But, with so many vacuums on the market, it’s hard to know which ones are the real winners for your floorboards.
We’ve spent lots of time and energy looking for the best models out there, so you don’t have to!
In this guide, we’ll take you through our own in-depth reviews of three great vacuums for hardwoods. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about these models, and talk you through why we think they’re the best options on the market today.
At the bottom of the page, we’ve put together a handy list of things to think about when you’re shopping for your new cleaning machine. Plus, we’ll help you figure out which of our recommendations is appropriate for you!
Let’s get started by taking a quick peek at our overall favorites:
Best on a Budget
Reviews of the Best Vacuums for Hardwood Floors and Carpet
We love the built-in filtration, as well as the jumbo-sized dust compartment. It’s a good solution for people who have all hardwoods, and want to spend the least amount possible on cleaning them.
It’s extremely light. The VonHaus weighs just 6 pounds–the same as a handheld vacuum! That makes it easy for pretty much anybody to use, even elderly people and kids.
It also has an adjustable wand, so you can set the height to whatever works best for you.
The dust bin is larger than other lightweight stick vacuums. The VonHaus has a fairly standard stick design, but the dust bin is sized up slightly. It holds 1.2 liters of debris. It empties easily, you just detach it and dump everything in the trash bin.
This one is a 2-in-1 design. It works as both a stick vacuum and a handheld vacuum. It’s one of the only stick vacuums with an extension hose! You can use the hose with a crevice tool or a dusting brush, both of which are included. While some other stick vacuums work as handheld dustbusters, they don’t come with attachments like this.
It also comes with a shoulder-strap, so you can carry the suction unit along with you as you clean with the attachments.
It’s equipped with HEPA-grade filtration. That’s a rarity for a vacuum in this class, especially at this price. HEPA filtration keeps all those microscopic dust particles and allergens inside the vacuum, where other stick models would recirculate them back into the air. That makes this one ideal for allergy sufferers, or people who have pets to clean up after. The foam filter is washable and reusable indefinitely.
It’s non-marring. The wheels are rubber-coated to protect the finish on your hardwoods. Previous buyers said they didn’t notice any blemishes whatsoever on their hardwoods.
It’s surprisingly powerful. The VonHaus is one of the only stick vacuums with the power rating posted on the package–so you know the company is proud of it. This one packs a 600-watt motor, which cranks out 130 air watts of suction power. That’s more than enough to pull errant dust bunnies to you, as well as clean out cracks between floorboards!
It gives you plenty of reach, thanks to an 18-foot power cord.
It’s very lightly built. That’s true of pretty much any stick vacuum. While the VonHaus is better than most other light vacuums in its class, it’s nowhere near as rugged or durable as a big upright or canister vacuum.
The one weak point previous buyers pointed out is the dust chamber. You’ll want to be careful not to drop it. As far as the rest of the vacuum is concerned, it’s sturdy enough to last you a while, but it’s not covered by any warranty.
The Olympus is our favorite mid-range choice for hardwood floors. We love the superior German build quality, as well as the adjustable suction settings. This is a terrific choice for people who have mostly hard floors, and want a vacuum that will last for years.
It’s built outstandingly well. Like all Mieles, the Olympus is designed, engineered, and manufactured in Germany. That assures you of a very strict standard of quality control, as well as ethical manufacturing practices.
All the parts are exceedingly sturdy. The extension wand is telescopic, and both the shaft and catches are made of stainless steel. All the attachments are made from dense, sturdy plastic. The casing on the canister is made from auto-grade plastics, like you’d find on the paneling of a car. The wheels are rubberized, and all the bristles are soft, natural fibers, not scratchy nylon.
Overall, previous buyers were very impressed by the quality of the Miele. They complimented the build quality, as well as the ergonomic, user-friendly design.
The convertible floor head works on hardwoods, tile, laminates, and low carpets or rugs. It has rubberized wheels to help protect your floors, and a velour strip to pad the suction head and loosen surface dirt. If you need to clean a rug or mat, you can simply hit the rocker footswitch to lower the head for a better lock on fabric surfaces.
The Olympus comes with a standard attachment set. There’s a dusting brush, crevice tool, and upholstery tool. The Miele’s attachments are noticeably better built than the competition. While most models at this price use very light plastic and cheap nylon bristles for their brushes and tools, Miele use very hard plastic and soft natural bristles for their own versions.
We particularly love Miele’s unique take on the upholstery tool. It uses a small velour strip to grab pesky pet hair and fur, and then sucks it all up into the machine. We’ve found that it works better than tools with straight brushes or rubber strips.
It has many more conveniences than budget canisters. This one has an automatic cord rewind. You can control the power cord as well as the motor right from the canister, with two footswitches. The wand adjusts to your height, and curves ergonomically. All those little touches make a big difference in our book!
Between the power cord and the extension hose, you get nearly 30 feet of cleaning range. That’s ideal for cleaning up hardwood stairs, and between rooms in a larger house.
It has a built-in filtration system. This one captures and eliminates 99% of airborne allergens and dust particles. We love that Miele combines the filter with the dust bag, so you can change both at once. The bags are also self-sealing. That means none of those allergens will escape when you empty the canister. That’s a big plus for allergy sufferers.
The suction is powerful and adjustable. There are 6 different settings to choose from, so you can cater its performance to different surfaces and cleaning tasks. The high settings are ideal for rugs and pesky cobwebs. The lower options help you clean more delicate surfaces like upholstery and curtains.
We love that there are graphic icons next to the dial to help you choose the right setting. And the dial’s located right on the top of the canister, so it’s easy to switch mid-cleaning.
The storage clip for the attachments is a bit awkward. We found that most previous buyers didn’t end up using it.
It’s expensive, for a model that’s limited mostly to hard floors. There are canisters available for less, but none of them can compare to the Miele in terms of reliability. They have cheap parts, hoses that break, and rough plastic parts which can scratch up your hardwoods in no time.
The Miele Titan is our top quality choice for people with lots of hardwood.
It’s the only one of our recommendations that’s equipped to handle full carpeting, as well. Like the Olympus, the Titan impresses us mightily with its sturdy build, smart power, and ergonomic design. If you have a mix of flooring, and want the best vacuum for all of it, look no further!
It’s built just as well as the Olympus. Like the cheaper Miele, this one has a telescopic, stainless steel wand, tough plastic casing, and sturdy attachments. It’s covered by the same 7-year warranty, and has an equally excellent reliability record.
The Titan comes with two separate floor heads, to handle all your different surfaces. There’s a fully-motorized brush head for even the deepest carpets, and a wide parquet brush for hard flooring. Both floor heads have swivel steering and a low profile for reaching under and around furniture.
The carpet head is great for people who have a mix of hardwoods and flooring. The powerful motor and brush bar don’t get bogged down in the deepest carpets, and they’re very effective on area rugs and mats as well. We’re very pleased with the power of the brush, which pulls itself right along and saves you strain.
Miele’s Parquet Twister attachment is one of our all-time favorite tools for hardwood flooring. It’s one of the widest suction heads on the market, but still manages to maintain a great suction lock for cleaning between boards. We love the thick natural bristles. They loosen up surface dirt without leaving the faintest scuffs on your finished floorboards. This attachment is ideal for cleaning hardwood stairs, since its brushes reach into the corners of each step while protecting the wood kickplates. You can also use it on wood molding. It’s better than a dusting brush, since you get much more coverage with the same protecting cushion.
As with the Olympus, the Titan has adjustable suction settings to help you clean each different surface. We especially like the adjustment for carpets, since the wrong setting can cause a carpet head to clamp onto fibers and get completely stuck. That’s a big problem with Dyson carpet heads, which are around the same price range. The Miele lets you ease off or ramp up the suction depending on your exact style of carpet.
It’s loaded with the same AirClean filtration system as the Olympus. That’s especially handy for carpets. Pet dander and dust can build up like crazy below the surface, so allergy sufferers often experience lots of symptoms while they’re vacuuming with traditional models. Without sealed filtration, many cleaning machines just shoot all that microscopic crud back into the air, aggravating your allergies when you’re trying to keep them at bay. That’s not a problem with the Miele.
It’s quite expensive. At several hundred dollars, the Titan isn’t a purchase most of us can make lightly. However, it’s one of the most reliable models on the market. This is a machine that’s built to last many years.
Which is the Best Hard Floor Vacuum for You?
The VonHaus is the least expensive option by a long shot. It’s our top recommendation to buyers on a budget.
While it might look similar to the other cheap stick vacuums on the market, we think it provides much better power and versatility for roughly the same price.
It has a powerful motor, surprisingly sophisticated filtration, and the option of using attachments for cleaning around and above your floors. While this isn’t a vacuum that’ll last a lifetime, it’ll get the job done without making much of a dent in your paycheck. However, it’s pretty much useless on carpets.
For people who can spend a bit more on their new vacuum, but still have mostly hard floors, our favorite choice is the Miele Olympus.
It packs a lot more power than the VonHaus, but it’s more maneuverable and ergonomic than other canister vacuums at the same price. It’s also built much better than other brands.
We love the adjustable suction, as well as the sturdy attachments for the rest of your cleaning. While the Olympus is a bit pricy, it’s a vacuum that will last you a very long time and be a joy to use. Just don’t expect it to work on carpeting that’s not flat or low-weave.
If you’ve got a mix of hardwood and carpet in your house, we highly recommend the Miele Titan for you.
In terms of the canister, it’s about the same as the Olympus. However, the Titan excels when it comes to the floor heads. We love having two dedicated tools for carpet and hardwoods. They allow you to vacuum each type of flooring very well, without making sacrifices to performance on either one.
The motorized brush head is stronger and more maneuverable than the competition, and the hard floor head is simply excellent for hardwoods and paneling.
Like the Olympus, this is an expensive purchase. However, it’s another machine that will last for many years to come. We think that, like your hardwood floors, it’s a worthy investment.
How to Choose the Right Hardwood Floor Vacuum
Look for protective brushes:
The biggest challenge with hardwood floors is to clean them thoroughly without scratching the finish. Scuffs and scratches can instantly mar the beauty of your natural flooring, and can make brand new boards look worn out in no time.
Scratches on the surface can also damage the finish on boards. That leaves you with unsealed wood, which can get moldy or develop stains. Plus, unsealed floors are risky to mop, since water can get under the flooring and cause mold and mildew.
So, for both practical and aesthetic reasons, you’ll want to make sure you get a vacuum that protects your floors. The best solution is to get a vacuum with a thick brush head that’s specifically designed for hard floors.
If you can’t afford an expensive canister vacuum, you can get away with using a stick vacuum. While stick models don’t have brushes, you can find options with slightly raised suction heads to keep a safe distance between the plastic and your floor.
Regardless of the type of vacuum you purchase, make sure the wheels are rubberized, so that you’re not scuffing your floors as you move around the house.
We’d avoid using any upright vacuums on hard floors. They tend to have hard plastic wheels which can mar finishes, and their brushes can’t always be switched off. If you think wheels can scuff finishes, just imagine 12” of spinning nylon brushes at work!
It’s much safer to use a stick or canister vacuum with a dedicated hard floors attachment. Plus, upright vacuums don’t do a very good job on hardwood floors in the first place. The brushes fling dirt around, and the whole floor head is too high off the ground to get a good suction lock.
Don’t skimp on suction:
There’s a common misconception that carpets are the only flooring that require lots of suction. However, without the proper power, your hardwood floors will still be dirty after you make a pass.
That’s because dirt, dander, and hairs get ground into the cracks between floorboards–especially on unsealed woods. You can have years’ worth of crud in your floors, and most vacuums won’t touch it. That can make it hard to control fleas and other pests. Most of all, it’s just plain gross.
You want a vacuum with lots of suction power to pull all that ground-in grit out. You’ll have fewer allergens in your house, and you’ll have less of a risk for fleas or other infestations.
High suction power also means less chasing dust bunnies around on hard floors. They’ll be pulled right to you, which makes your job easier and quicker.
Think about the rest of your floors:
If you’ve got all hardwood floors, your needs are simple. You just need a great vacuum for hardwood floors.
You can buy anything from a lightweight stick vacuum to a premium canister vacuum, but in terms of the features you need, it’s all essentially the same. You need powerful suction, and some basic attachments to clean around the edges of your house.
If you’ve got a mix of hardwood floors and carpets, you’ll need to make sure your new vacuum can handle them as well. For low-pile and flatweave rugs and carpets, you can probably get away with a convertible floor tool.
These will work on hard floors and the lowest carpeting. If you have any medium to deep carpets and rugs, you’ll need a vacuum with a powered brush head. Spinning bristles will dig into your carpet fibers, and loosen up all the ground-in dirt, pet hair, and other junk that’s trapped below the surface.
Make sure it’s motorized, not air-powered. We’ve found that air-powered heads get bogged down and stuck in deep, plush carpeting. A motor head will keep you moving smoothly, and do a more thorough cleaning job.
Consider your budget:
If you’re shopping for a vacuum to handle hardwood floors, you have a range of options in front of you.
Your least expensive choice is a stick vacuum. They’re available from $30 to $200+ for the cordless models. They’ll do a good job on hard flooring, and save you lots of money.
However, most stick vacuums (at least under $200) can’t handle carpets. They’re also not as powerful or as versatile as a canister vacuum.
If you can afford it, we recommend buying a canister vacuum for hardwood floors. These are much more powerful than stick vacuums, and they’re more versatile as well.
We recommend them for people with a mix of flooring, since many models have multiple floor heads for handling hardwoods and carpeting separately. You’ll also be able to use tools and attachments clean around edges, on upholstery, and in all the nooks and crannies in the house.
Plus, the higher suction power and brush heads on a canister vacuum do a better job getting dirt out of floorboards and corners. However, canister vacuums will cost $300-$600+.
Want to compare more fantastic vacuums for hardwood floors? Check out the best sellers on Amazon or you can read our Best Vacuum Cleaner Reviews!