That spinning rolling beater bar that is under a vacuum cleaner can sometimes do more damage than good. You’ll want to use a vacuum cleaner without a beater brush on hardwood floors to avoid scratching the floors and slinging debris away.
You also need to avoid the vacuums with the spinning brushes for certain carpets like shag, frieze, or Berber-style carpets. I would also avoid using a vacuum cleaner with a spinning brush on tile or non-carpet surfaces too as the brush will only fling dirt away.
You can buy vacuum cleaners that offer excellent middle-of-the-road use on both carpet and non-carpet surfaces; these vacuums have an off and on switch for the beater brush. There are also vacuums that work way better if you’re cleaning hard surfaces or frieze or Berber carpets. We want to talk about some of the options you should consider when buying a vacuum cleaner for these types of floors.
The Best Option
The best way to go about this whole process is to stick with a canister-style vacuum cleaner. These are the type of vacuums that sit on the floor with a long hose you use to clean the carpet with. Most of the time canister vacuums will not have a rotating beater brush and only use suction to clean. There are some canister vacuums with a brush bar, but it does not spin and is okay to use.
The Soniclean WhisperJet C2 Canister Vacuum Cleaner* is one of my favorites to use, mostly for the features and the price.
One great perk I find about canister vacuums is that they’re easier to push around and most can clean under furniture a lot easier than upright vacuums.
The Other Option – On and Off Switch
If you have both carpet and hardwood floors then getting an upright vacuum that allows you to turn off the brush is ideal. Having the ability to shut off the beater brush is a must if you want to keep the vacuum from flinging dirt around when cleaning hard surfaces.
Turning the brushes off is also a must if sucking up big things like kitty litter. If you’re just cleaning cat litter, then I would recommend my post here about the best ways to suck it up.
You can even get some vacuums that will clean carpets, hardwood floors, and even have the option to use a mop style tool to clean the small particles on the solid floors.
I’m a fan of the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional with Dust-Away & 2 Microfiber Pads* because it can turn the roller brush off and on. They do this by having a separate motor for the brush. Older style vacuums would use the vacuum motor to not only create the suction but also use a belt to drive the brushes. By separating the two, you don’t loose power in running the brushes as they’re separate motors and you can flip the brushes off when you don’t need them. This makes an ideal vacuum cleaner if you ask me.
Why Avoid The Beater Bar?
Using a vacuum cleaner with a beater brush on hardwood surfaces is the worse way to clean. Not only does the debris get thrown around by the spinning brush but you can run the risk of scratching your floors.
One of the biggest pains with a roller brush is how it deals with hair. Especially long hair, it likes to get trapped in the brushes of a vacuum cleaner. While some vacuums do make it easy to clean the beater brush of hair, it’s still a horrible chore to do. Having a vacuum cleaner without the beater brush can save you the trouble of dealing with hair and makes it wonderful for sucking up hair. If you don’t have Berber style carpet, then use a Carpet Rake* to loosen up the fibers and get the hair out of the carpet and suck it up with a vacuum.
Some carpets like Berber don’t do well with vacuums with beater brushes. The brush can snag or break the fibers of the carpet and slowly ruin it. It can cause shedding of the carpet, and you don’t want or need that to happen.
Some carpets will actually need a vacuum that has suction control because too strong of suction can damage carpet or even kill the warranty. Make sure to read all care and warranty info on your carpets before buying a vacuum.
Why Beater Brushes Are Great
The reason why vacuum cleaners have beater brushes is that they help to free up the dirt in the carpet. Once the dirt is lifted up the suction of the vacuum takes over and sucks it up. Some carpets do well with a beater brush to set the dirt free.
The fibers of the carpet can actually trap dirt and over time gravity pushes it down so having a good vacuum with a brush is key to lifting it out.
What Vacuums To Avoid
You’ll want to avoid the vacuum cleaners that have “auto” height adjustments on them. These auto adjustments are not really automatic as no lasers are calibrating the correct height. That would be cool if this did exist but it doesn’t.
These auto height adjusters use a plastic plate to guess how high the rollers should be. This works very well for a home with basic cheap carpets and linoleum floors, but not so well for others.
It’s better to have a vacuum cleaner that has a manual adjuster for height and even better to have one that turns the beater brush off. If you can pick up a vacuum cleaner that has those two features and the ability to control suction and you’ll have the best vacuum around.