The Shark IONFlex is cord-free and collapsible – the only one in our comparison of the best hardwood floor vacuums that can claim that combination. It stores so compact that it seems almost pocket-sized compared to some of the other hard floor vacuums we tested. The IONFlex struggled somewhat in our testing, however.
We used flour to simulate fine dust in our laboratory, and the IONFlex struggled to clean it up. More than half of the competing products cleaned the flour off hardwood flooring faster than the IONFlex. If you have a lot of fine dust in your home, you might want to consider the strong suction of another Shark we tested, the DuoClean Powered Lift-Away Speed.
IONFlex was the very best at cleaning sawdust, though, so it will do a great job on leaves, lint and other lightweight messes in your home. It was also competitive at cleaning kitty litter – it tied for second best on those tests. Most of the other units in our lineup flung much of the kitty litter out of the way instead of vacuuming it up.
The IONFlex has some capabilities that make it more versatile than other bare floor vacuums. It can operate as a hand vacuum for use in your car or on furniture. It can also be used much like a typical canister vacuum because its front hose can be snapped into place at a 90-degree angle to reach under furniture without forcing you reach or bend. It folds in half the other way for storage.
The cleaning head also is special because it has a soft brushroll right in front that has direct contact with hard floors. That is unlike typical bristle brushes that are great for carpeting but too far away from bare floors to do much good. While some traditional cleaning heads scatter messes, the soft brushroll on the IONFlex pulls debris into the path of the strongest airflow and gently dusts the floor at the same time.
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The compact size and flexibility of this vacuum are definite bonuses in terms of convenience, but there were some drawbacks. For one thing it was pretty hard to figure out how to empty it. Other vacs were more intuitive. Battery life was impressively long with the IONFlex, but all batteries will deplete over time so in that sense corded models are easier because you will never have to replace batteries. It is lovely not to have to drag out the big upright just for some cereal on the floor, though. IONFlex will clean it up before you can even unwind the cord of a large upright. With an upright all the weight is on the wheels, though, so if you have much beyond a quick clean-up the IONFlex can seem cumbersome.
The best vacuum for hardwood floors is the one you will use. The IONFlex is perfect for quick pickups and maintaining a small area. You wouldn’t want to clean huge swaths of hardwood flooring with this one, though. It is heavy for a compact vacuum and has a small dust bin you must empty often.