Any vacuum can clean hardwood floors—this is the simplest possible task for a vacuum cleaner. You don’t need anything special to get dust, hair, crumbs, or anything else off your wood, tile, or laminate floors. But some vacuums do it a little better than others. To avoid scattering debris or possibly damaging sensitive flooring, look for a model that either lets you switch off the spinning brush roll or has a special soft-fabric brush roll or no brush roll at all.
Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352
Our longtime favorite upright vacuum works well for most homes, with adjustable features that make it effective on both hardwood floors and other surfaces.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $200.
Our favorite all-around vacuum—for any type of flooring—is the Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352, a reasonably priced and durable machine that has always performed very well in our cleaning tests on all surfaces, including bare floors. You can toggle the brush roll on or off, so it won’t send hard debris like cat litter or breakfast cereal shooting across the room when you’re cleaning wood, linoleum, or tile. Even if you need to clean only bare floors right now, choosing this Shark is a good way to future-proof your vacuum purchase in case you end up needing to clean rugs or carpets someday.
Miele Classic C1 Pure Suction
This nimble vacuum for hardwood floors and low-pile carpeting includes tools designed to do the job right. It has given one Wirecutter editor a decade of excellent, trouble-free cleaning.
If you don’t plan to clean rugs (or at least not thick ones), you can get a vacuum that’s purpose-built for cleaning bare floors. These are most often “suction-only” models, without a brush roll. One suction-only vacuum that we’re really fond of is the Miele Classic C1 Pure Suction. Miele canister vacuums are known to last for decades, run quieter than almost any other vacuum, and have great filtration. The Classic C1 Pure Suction is the lowest-priced Miele canister model you can buy. It has a suction-only cleaning head (no brush roll) with soft bristles around the edges that let it glide smoothly across bare floors. The strong suction allows it to work pretty well on low-pile rugs, too.
Dyson V12 Detect Slim
This nimble, high-tech model is light, powerful, and easy to maneuver. Its Laser Slim Fluffy cleaner head is specifically designed to snag dust and fur from bare floors.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $570.
A vacuum with a soft-fabric brush roll is another effective way to clean bare floors. Rather than trying to agitate and fling debris, as a typical brush roll does, a fluffy brush roll essentially hugs debris as it moves from the floor to the vacuum intake. Several brands make these kinds of cleaner heads, but in our tests the Dyson V12 Detect Slim performed the best.
The V12 Detect Slim’s Laser Slim Fluffy cleaner head has a microfiber brush roll that is specifically designed to target dust and fur from bare floors, while also protecting sensitive surfaces such as wood floors from scratches. Its separate Motorhead cleaner head has bristles and hair removal vanes that work well on carpets and rugs. This model has several high-tech features that make it almost fun to use, including a sensor that automatically adjusts suction, a laser headlight that illuminates dust in dim corners, and an LCD screen with a battery countdown and particle counter.
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