As a consulting custodian, I get a lot of questions from individuals and firms about the best equipment to get the job done. While a lot of times that depends whether you have contracts with different tool suppliers, when it comes to vacuums, you really want to do your own shopping instead of relying on the tool catalog. On todays’ blog, I wanted to take a moment to talk about vacuuming hardwood floors, one of the easiest tasks to take care of in theory, but one of the hardest to actually do well.
People think hardwoods are easy to vacuum, because they’re a hard smooth surface. That’s true, but we’re not dealing with linoleum or tile here. Hardwoods usually have cracks, which means you have to vacuum into those as well as on the surface. Hardwoods are also premier flooring. They’re finished, waxed and sanded when they’re installed, and part of being a good custodian is being able to protect nice floors while you clean. So, getting the balance right between cleaning power and a delicate touch is the challenge you face when you’re outfitting yourself or your team with a good vacuum for hardwoods.
I’ve got two recommendations for you today, as far as the best hardwood floor vacuum out there today. They’re not the most obvious choices on the market, really, but after I took the effort to do lots of research, and having used a lot of different machines over the years, I’m pretty confident these two are the best bets.
First off, I want to take you through some of what I look for when I’m shopping for a vacuum to use on clients’ hardwood floors.
It’s really important to keep in mind that as well as cleaning, you’re there to take care of floors. So you have to be careful to make sure your vacuum isn’t causing any damage to the finish by scratching or scuffing. Some things to avoid: hard plastic wheels and nylon bristles.
You also need some tools for stairs, ideally big soft brushes with bumpers so you don’t scratch up the paneling as you go.
It can be a bit counterintuitive to think about hardwoods requiring lots of power, but unless you’re working on perfectly smooth floors, you will definitely want lots of power for cracks where dust collects. When you’re a janitor, that’s the sort of detail you don’t want to ignore.
The big priority is to keep the hardwoods safe. You’ll get fired quickly for damaging floors, and that’s the kind of reputation for carelessness that can sink you in this business for life.
The first vacuum I want to mention is called the Sanitaire. It’s a lot like your average commercial vacuum for custodians, but it’s nearly as cheap as a typical consumer vacuum. It’s got a compact canister with a bagged collection system. You can carry the canister as a backpack, which is best for hardwoods, since you don’t have to worry about dragging the canister behind you and scuffing up the place. I like this one because it’s got a really long wand and hose, and you can adjust the wand length as you go. The fact that you can carry it makes stairs easy, and it has a better bristle floor head than most commercial vacuums. All told, definitely the best inexpensive option I’ve found for hardwoods if you’re a custodian. It can also do a decent job on flat carpets, but I wouldn’t really use anything that doesn’t have a motor brush to do a thorough cleaning job.
If you work in nicer places, I have one other recommendation. It’s not a commercial vacuum, per se but it’s even better than the Sanitaire. I’ve used it in upscale places like law offices, historical buildings, and fancy houses. Definitely the best hardwood floor vacuum that the average consumer can buy, and I think it’s totally worth of a pro. It’s called a Miele, which is a german brand, and the one I’ve used is called the Titan. It’s not terribly expensive, about $600 when last I looked, but it’s got a huge range of power that you can adjust through, which makes it really versatile for working in nicer homes and offices. You can just turn the power down and get all your curtains and upholstery done with the same vacuum as the hardwood floors, without having to worry about damaging anything. This one has some crazy attention to detail that I doubt the average Joe would notice, but someone like me who cares about cleaning equipment for my income loves the kind of engineer that thought to put rubber on the wheels and bumpers on the sides to protect walls. I also absolutely love the self-sealing bags on this thing, which are the most sanitary design I’ve seen in several decades of janitorial work.