Is It Safe to Use Vacuum Cleaners on Hardwood Flooring? Here’s What You Need to Know 

Is It Safe to Use Vacuum Cleaners on Hardwood Flooring? Here's What You Need to Know 

When it comes to cleaning and maintaining hardwood flooring, it’s important to use the right products and the right tools to make sure the hardwood will be protected from damage and kept in pristine shape for years to come. Using household items like vinegar or lemon juice, wet-mopping the hardwood floors, or aggressively vacuuming can cause severe damage in the long-term, leaving the wood surface with scratches, dents, water damage, and worse. But regular cleaning is also crucial to extending the durability of hardwood floors, and careful dusting, vacuuming, and mopping should be done weekly or bi-weekly, depending on the level of traffic and usage. 

While most homeowners don’t think twice about using their regular vacuum cleaner on their new hardwood floors, professionals know that there are certain things to consider. That’s why we always advise our clients to use the right type of vacuums with the right attachments and the right cleaning products to ensure that their hardwood floors are protected and cleaned properly. 

Can you use a regular vacuum cleaner on hardwood floors?

We don’t advise using regular vacuum cleaners on hardwood floors, because most of them are designed to clean carpets and fiber surfaces, and they can be quite aggressive. Usually, the wheels integrated in regular vacuum cleaners are made of plastic, and this can cause scratches and dents in the surface of the hardwood. 

At the same time, the brush rollers on regular vacuum cleaners tend to be very thick and rigid, which in turn can make hardwood vulnerable to scratches. Brushes on regular vacuum cleaners and even robot cleaners also tend to spread dust and debris around, which makes the vacuuming process more time-consuming, less effective, and more likely to end up scratching the hardwood planks. 

What type of vacuum cleaner is best for hardwood floors?

When it comes to vacuum cleaners, there are two main types currently available on the market: upright vacuum cleaners and canister vacuum cleaners. There are also the new robot vacuum cleaners like Roomba, but they are not as effective and more prone to causing scratches on the surface of the wood due to the rolling brushes and plastic wheels. They also don’t have very good suction power compared to upright or classic canister vacuums. 

For hardwood floors, the best type of vacuum cleaner is a canister vacuum. They might be a bit more expensive than upright vacuums, but they have better suction power and they exert less pressure on the surface of the wood while cleaning. This is an important factor to consider, because you don’t want to place unnecessary pressure on hardwood floors, as this can cause scratches, dents, and even warping over time. 

What factors should be considered when choosing a vacuum cleaner for hardwood floors?

Like we’ve already mentioned, canister vacuum cleaners are the best choice for hardwood floors, due to their ease of use, light weight, portability, and superior suction power. However, it’s important to make sure that the canister vacuum has rubber wheels instead of plastic wheels, to avoid scratching the hardwood when moving the vacuum around during the cleaning process. Extra padding is an added bonus that can protect the hardwood from damage, so that’s also something to look for when purchasing a vacuum cleaner. 

Another important factor is the suction power, which is usually superior in canister vacuums compared to upright vacuums or robot vacuums. Good suction power is crucial because you want to make sure there is no dust or debris left behind during the vacuuming process, debris that could be spread and moved around causing scratches to the wood surface. However, extremely high suction power can also damage the wood, because it can sometimes ‘pull’ at it, causing it to lift from the subfloor and warping over time. This is especially concerning if there are any gaps in the floor, or if the floor is not perfectly flat

Additionally, it’s important to ensure that you’re using the right attachment when vacuuming hardwood floors. It’s a bad idea to use an attachment designed to clean carpets; instead, check to see if the vacuum cleaner comes with an attachment specifically designed for hardwood floors, as it will be softer, have extra padding, and be less likely to cause scratches in the surface. 

Last but not least, rolling brushes should be avoided, because they are designed primarily to draw out hair and debris from carpets, and they can be quite aggressive on hardwood floors or other sensitive surfaces. These rolling brushes are rigid, stiff, and they can leave major, visible scratches in the surface of the wood, scratches that might require refinishing the flooring much earlier than planned. 

For more tips on how to properly clean, remove, repair, or replace hardwood flooring, or for information on any of the products we carry, reach out to First Atlanta Flooring and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!