In this Guide
Compared to carpets, you might think vacuuming hardwood floors would be a breeze. After all, hardwood floors are flat, smooth, and you can see all the dirt and hair sitting on top.
However, buying just any old vacuum won’t cut it for your hardwoods.
Hardwood floors require just as much care and attention as carpets, and you need one that’s specifically designed to handle them! With the wrong model, you’ll be leaving lots of ground-in crud between your floorboards, and risk scratching the finish with poorly-designed plastic parts.
The best vacuums for hardwood floors have enough suction to pull dirt and hair from between floorboards, and yank dust bunnies from the corners and edges of your rooms. They also have smartly-designed features like rubber wheels and soft brushes to keep your floors safe as you clean.
So which ones make the grade?
We’ve done the research to find out! We’ve compared dozens of models from the leading brands in our search for the best cheap vacuums for hardwood floors. We’ve also chosen models to fit a variety of households and lifestyles, as well as a range of budgets.
On this page, you’ll find our full, in-depth reviews of each of our recommendations. We’ll take you through everything you need to know about these models, and help you figure out which one is the best choice for you.
After the reviews, you’ll find our handy guide to choosing the right model for your home.
First, here’s a look at all three of our recommendations. Click on images below to view top products at the amazon store!
Best on a Budget
Hoover Corded Stick
Best Wood Floor Vacuum Reviews
1. Shark Freestyle
This cordless stick model from Shark has a powered brush head for tackling both carpets and hardwood flooring.
It’s a simple, effective solution for apartments and small homes, and is great for people with shedding pets! We like its adaptive brush settings and extra-large dust compartment.
It’s cordless. The Freestyle’s battery gives you between 15-20 minutes of cleaning time per charge, depending on whether you’re in carpet or hard floor mode. That gives you plenty of time to clean a whole apartment or small house. One previous buyer wrote, “It holds the best battery life of any I have owned and works better at cleaning my floors than any I’ve owned as well.”
The Freestyle is one of the least expensive stick models to have a fully-powered brush head. That’s great news for people with a mixture of hardwoods and carpets. It’s powerful enough for deep, wall-to-wall carpeting that most sticks won’t touch! It’s also ideal for area or throw rugs.
The floor head has two brush settings, for carpets and hard flooring. You can turn the brushes up to really agitate and loosen up hair and dirt from carpets, or turn down the speed to loosen dirt on hard floors without throwing bits of dirt around. The slower speed also helps protect the finish on your hardwood floors.
The Freestyle’s brush head has swivel steering, for easier maneuverability around furniture and corners. It’s also low-profile, so it fits easily under couches and coffee tables.
It’s great for homes with pets. Consumer Reports named the Freestyle the Top Stick Vacuum for Pet Hair. That’s thanks to the powered carpet roller, and large dust chamber.
The dust chamber is a fair amount larger than other stick models. It empties easily, as well. You simply lift it off the vacuum, and press a button to empty it over the trash.
The charging base doubles as a stand. It shuts off automatically when the Freestyle’s done charging. That means you can leave it for days at a time with no worries about damaging the battery.
It’s very inexpensive. At less than $100, the Shark is the least expensive cordless option for people with a mix of hardwoods and carpets (by a long shot!).
It’s covered by a 1-year warranty.
It’s built pretty cheaply. The Freestyle is made completely from lightweight plastic, and it does feel a bit rickety.
There aren’t any additional attachments beside the floor head. This limits the Freestyle to cleaning only your floors. The Freestyle isn’t great at cleaning edges of rooms or stairs. You also won’t be able to use it for cleaning tasks above ground level.
The brush head doesn’t turn completely off. That could be problematic for more delicate hardwoods or tile. Previous buyers didn’t mention any issues with scratching, but you might want to test the Freestyle in a corner to make sure your hardwood floors aren’t too delicate for a machine with brushes.
As with other Sharks, it has a fairly mixed reliability record. The more recent models seem to be the best. However, most people said their battery life started slipping after the first year. That’s typical of nickel-cadmium cordless models, which don’t last as long as newer lithium ion systems.
2. BISSELL Lightweight
This hybrid stick model doubles as a handheld dustbuster, so you can clean your floors, corners, and all around your house.
It’s a 3-in-1 combo model, which we love for apartments and homes with all hard flooring. Plus, at less than $50, it’s incredibly affordable.
It’s extremely inexpensive. The BISSELL is half the price of the Hoover, and 1/3 the price of the Shark Freestyle. Previous buyers said they got a lot more power and versatility than they anticipated. One wrote, “For a little cost you get big results. Perfect for hardwood floors and pet hair.”
There are 3 cleaning modes, which makes the BISSELL a very versatile choice. You can use this one as an upright stick, as a handheld dustbuster, or as a dustbuster with the extension wand for cleaning in corners and tight overhead spots. It’s easy to switch between all three modes with the quick latches.
The wide suction head is perfect for cleaning hardwoods, tiles, and laminates. You can also use the BISSELL on flat carpets and rugs. Since the suction head is shallow, you can fit it on stairs without having to switch to the handheld nozzle. That’s a big plus for us over models like the Freestyle, which won’t fit easily on stairs.
The non-marking wheels protect your hardwood floors. There’s also a rubber strip on the bottom of the suction head for keeping the plastic from rubbing against hardwoods. Most stick models at this price are made from cheap, hard plastic which can scratch up your floors in no time.
For such a small machine, it’s surprisingly powerful. It has the suction to pull cobwebs out from high corners, and is very effective for cleaning out cracks between floorboards. We’re particularly impressed by how well it does on edges, even without using the crevice nozzle.
The 16-foot power cord provides a fair amount of range, and wraps around the handle for storage.
The filter is washable and reusable, so there’s no maintenance cost.
It’s extremely light, at less than 4 pounds. Previous buyers reported that it’s very easy to maneuver, and isn’t a strain to use even overhead with the extension wand.
It won’t work on serious wall-to-wall carpeting, or very thick rugs.
It doesn’t lie down all the way flat. That’s annoying when you’re trying to clean under a bed or couch.
Emptying the dust chamber can be a bit messy, since you have to pull the filter out of the dust chamber by hand. You’ll want to empty the BISSELL directly over the trash can.
Since it doesn’t have brushes or a roller, it doesn’t loosen ground-in dirt as well as other machines.
3. Hoover Corded
This Hoover stick model comes loaded with cyclonic suction and a versatile powered brush head for your hardwoods and carpets.
It’s a very budget-friendly choice for people with a mixture of hardwoods and carpets, who aren’t worried about having the range of a cordless machine.
The Hoover is one of the only stick vacuums with cyclonic suction. This gives it the power to really suck dust and pet hair from between your floorboards.
It’s also great at pulling dust bunnies from corners without you having to chase them down. In terms of sheer suction, the Hoover’s much more powerful than the Shark or BISSELL.
We love cyclonic suction because it creates a stronger vacuum seal over the floor, and provides more constant power than traditional vacuum systems. That’s because cyclones inside the vacuum chamber channel dust and dirt away from the filter assembly. This keeps airflow constant by keeping the filter’s pores cleaner longer. It also means you won’t have to clean the filters as frequently. Cyclonic suction is an impressive feature on the Hoover, given that it’s far less expensive than full size vacuums.
Even though it’s a small stick vacuum, it’s armed with a powered brush head for cleaning carpets and rugs. The floor head also uses edge-cleaning bristles to get into the corners of your room, and loosen all the dirt around the edges of your floorboards. You can adjust the speed of the brush head as you switch between carpets and hard flooring. On low speed, the brushes are ideal for cleaning down in the cracks between your floorboards.
It’s very maneuverable. The Hoover reclines all the way to the floor, for vacuuming under furniture. The floor head also has swivel steering, for getting around furniture and obstacles. The rubber coated wheels are non-marking, and will protect the finish on your hardwoods.
The dust chamber is easy and mess-free to empty, much like the Shark Freestyle. You simply lift it out, and press a button to open the bottom trapdoor.
The 20-foot power cord provides a bit more range than the BISSELL. The Hoover lets you vacuum between rooms without needing to plug the vacuum in several times.
It comes with a 2-year warranty.
Hoover’s warranty coverage and customer service are notoriously poor. To have your warranty honored, you’ll have to bring your vacuum to an authorized service center for maintenance. It’s worth checking to see if there’s a center near you before you buy. You can also get add-on coverage very cheaply from Amazon, which makes it easier to just return a vacuum that has issues.
There aren’t any attachments, or alternate cleaning modes. Like the Shark Freestyle, the Hoover is just for your floors.
Which Hardwood Floor Vacuum Should You Buy?
The BISSELL is our recommendation to people who have only hardwood flooring, with the occasional small rug.
It’s by far the most affordable of the three, and also has the versatility to vacuum above floor level, in corners, and along edges. However, if you have any sort of deep or wall-to-wall carpets, you’ll want to look at either the Shark or the Hoover.
If you’ve got a mixture of carpets and hardwoods, and want the flexibility of a cordless vacuum, we highly recommend the Shark.
It has very impressive suction power, and a big dust compartment which makes it ideal for people with pets. However, you’ll be limited to 15-20 minutes of vacuuming time on a charge. If that won’t be enough for you, you’ll want to consider the Hoover.
If having the range of a cordless vacuum isn’t an issue, we strongly recommend the Hoover.
Its cyclonic suction makes it more powerful than either the Hoover or the Bissel. Plus, it’s got the same versatility on carpets as the more expensive Shark.
You’ll be able to spend as much time as you need vacuuming, and have the best performance of the three vacuums on all your floors, thanks to the gentle edge brushes and smart speed settings. Just expect to plug it in while you vacuum.
How to Choose the Right Hardwood Vacuum for You
Consider your budget:
The cheapest option for cleaning your hardwood floors is a stick vacuum.
All our recommendations here are stick models, and are available from about $25-$100. While some budget-priced upright vacuums are available for about the same price as the Shark or Hoover we’ve recommended here, we’d advise against using full-size upright vacuums on hardwood floors. They tend to have brushes which are too aggressive for hardwoods.
Canister vacuums are great for hardwood floors, but a decent canister model will cost significantly more than a stick vacuum ($100-$500+).
When you’re shopping for stick vacuums, you can expect the more expensive models to have more powerful suction, bigger dust compartments, and more versatility for cleaning carpets. Some higher-priced stick vacuums have cyclonic suction or cordless power systems.
Think about protecting your floors:
Using the wrong vacuum on hardwood floors can leave scratches, scuffs, and other unsightly blemishes.
To make sure you leave your floors looking good as new every time you clean them, you’ll want to look for a few safeguards on your new vacuum. If you’re looking at a model with a powered brush roll, make sure it has variable speed settings.
You need a slower setting to keep the brushes from scratching your floors. The other problem you’ll be avoiding is that high-powered brushes tend to throw dirt around on hardwood flooring, which just spreads the mess around.
We also recommend finding vacuums with rubber-coated or soft plastic wheels. You can look for “non-marking” in product descriptions to make sure the wheels won’t leave marks.
We’ve also taken care to read lots of reviews from previous buyers, to make sure our recommendations don’t have any protruding plastic parts that could damage the finish on your hardwood floors.
Remember to think about the rest of your house:
If you have stairs, carpets, or larger rugs to deal with on top of your hardwoods, you’ll want to make sure you buy a vacuum that can handle all of it.
For carpets and deeper rugs, we recommend a vacuum with a powered brush roll, to really dig in and loosen dirt and hair from carpet fibers. For vacuuming stairs, you’ll want a narrower floor head that can fit on each step, or a smaller attachment for dealing with stairs.
Don’t skimp on suction:
There’s a common misconception that carpets are the only type of flooring that requires lots of suction power. While extra suction certainly comes in handy with carpets, you’ll need a fair amount of power for your hardwoods as well.
Over the years, floorboards develop cracks and gaps where dirt, pet hair, and other debris get ground-in and stuck. You’ll need lots of suction to reach down into those cracks and pull out all that accumulated grime.
If your vacuum has a roller brush, you’ll also want high suction to make sure that the dirt loosened by the brushes doesn’t get flung behind the vacuum. With proper suction, it’ll get picked up and deposited in the dust bin as soon as it comes off the floor.
Still looking for the right vacuum for your hardwood floors? Take a look at Amazon’s top-selling stick vacuums or check Cheap Vacuum Under 100 ! You’ll find some of the most popular models from all the top brands.