How to Choose Best Vacuum Cleaner for Hardwood Floors ?
When it comes time to clean a hardwood floor, many homeowners instinctively reach for the dustpan and broom, mop or Swiffer. Vacuums are seen as a tool for cleaning carpets, as that’s been their primary purpose since their invention.
But if you want to keep your hardwood in peak condition for years to come, a good hardwood vacuum is the ultimate cleaning tool. Over time, the small cracks in the wood and the crevices between slats become a haven for dust particles and other fine debris. Only a powerful hardwood vacuum is capable of removing all of the debris embedded in your floor in an efficient manner.
Why Do I Need a New Vacuum for Hardwood Floors ?
You might be reluctant to purchase a new, specialized machine if you’ve had a traditional model that has served you well on carpets for years. But the wrong type of vacuum can do more harm than good to your hardwood.
Machines designed for carpet usually use a brush roll—a spinning roll of thick, stiff bristles located in the head of the vacuum—to dislodge dust and dirt embedded in the fibers of a carpet.
While this is an effective way to clean carpets, the stiff bristles of the brush roll easily scratch the soft surface of the wood. Brush rolls also tend to scatter debris across the floor and away from the suction path of the machine.
Furthermore, models designed for carpet often have plastic or metal components (like wheels) that will also scratch hardwood. Hardwood vacuums, in contrast, usually feature rubber wheels and some kind of padding to prevent damage to the floor underneath.
What to Look for in a Hardwood Vacuum
Now that we know why it’s important to use the right kind of machine on a hardwood floor, let’s look at some of the important qualities and features of a good hardwood vacuum.
If you’re considering a particular vacuum for your hardwood floor, first check the head of the vacuum to make sure there’s no brush roll. Some models allow you to slow down or switch off the brush roll with a switch, which is a good feature if you’re looking for a vacuum for carpet and hardwood.
Some newer models use a roll of spongy or soft bristles for hardwood. Soft bristle brushes can be used on hardwood without damaging the surface—just make sure to avoid the stiff bristles used in carpet vacuums.
Hardwood vacuums need stronger suction than carpet vacuums to be effective at removing dirt. Without the aid of a brush roll to dislodge embedded dirt, hardwood vacuums must rely on suction alone for deep cleaning.
Padding and Wheels
Make sure to check your prospective vacuum for any components that could scratch your floor. Sometimes hardwood vacuums use felt or rubber padding to prevent damage during use. Keep an eye out for rubber wheels, which are gentler on the surface of the wood than hard plastic.
A lighter vacuum is always preferable to a heavier model, but this quality proves even more important on hardwood. The heavier the vacuum, the higher the likelihood you will accidentally scratch or scuff the floor.
Though they aren’t essential, many vacuums come with special attachments designed especially for hardwood floors that make taking care of your floor just a bit easier.
For example, some vacuums include an attachment that combines suction power with a microfiber cloth for a Swiffer-like cleaning tool that polishes as it cleans. Keep an eye out for these useful tools.
Recognize the Different Vacuum Styles
There’s a great deal of variation in size, shape, and design among hardwood vacuums. Different styles are often a matter of personal preference, but there are few key qualities it’s important to recognize in each vacuum type before you make a purchase.
Upright vacuums are the most common variety of vacuum, and are probably what most people think of when they imagine a vacuum cleaner.
Upright models have all their components—the dust canister, the head of the vacuum, hose, etc—contained in the body of the vacuum. They’re primarily designed for use on the floor, although some feature extendable, detachable hoses for above-floor cleaning.
Canisters are often a bit more pricey than their upright counterparts, but offer some advantages that make them the preferred style of many homeowners.
They’re usually lighter and more compact than uprights, making them easier to carry and maneuver around the home. The canister design is also more versatile than the upright—both canisters and uprights make quick work of the floor, but canisters are also adept at handling above-floor cleaning (such as ceilings, fans and shelving).
Stick vacuums are a relatively new development in the world of vacuuming, but they’ve quickly become some of the most popular models on the market. Stick vacuums are styled like upright vacuums, but are much slimmer and lighter. They’re often significantly less expensive than full-sized models.
Unless you live in a small apartment, a stick vacuum isn’t the best choice for your primary vacuum cleaner. Instead, they’re better suited as a supplementary tool—great for cleaning up a small area, but a chore to use for the entirety of your floor plan.