When it comes to the areas of a house that must be vacuumed, stairs are by far the most difficult. Components like the tread, risers, nosing, skirt boards and balusters come together to create corners, edges and awkward crevices where dust, dirt, hair and debris all too easily find their way.
Getting into these nooks and crannies can feel like an insurmountable task. There is also the issue of climbing, which is exhausting when you have to drag a vacuum cleaner up and down a flight of stairs while you bend and stoop to clean every corner and edge of the staircase.
While your trusty upright vacuum serves you well for general vacuuming purposes, this type of vacuum can be inefficient and cumbersome to use on stairs if it isn’t optimized for portability.
Introduction to Vacuum for Stairs
There is an abundance of vacuum units out there that are said to be perfect for use on carpeted staircases. Choosing the right model for you may be quite a difficult feat, and you may not have all the time in the world to do the necessary research. That’s what we’re here for. Below is a list of those considerations that you need to keep in mind when deciding on which model to purchase.
The size of your unit has always been an important consideration when purchasing a vacuum, but this is even more so if you happen to live in a home with many stairs. A large, bulky unit is potentially dangerous in any circumstances – it could cause injury if dropped or may strain one’s back when picked up, relocated, or stored.
A large unit would be especially hazardous if you are trying to navigate stairs. Therefore, it may be best to consider a handheld unit to tackle your staircases, as these can be carried with little to no effort. Cordless stick vacuums are also a good option, as they tend to be very light and easy to maneuver.
If you do decide upon a handheld vacuum, or perhaps a stick vacuum capable of converting to a handheld, then you’ll want to find one that comes equipped with the right accessories. If you have thick carpets in the house, you will certainly need a motorized brush attachment to extract any deep filth from the piles of your carpet, especially considering that smaller vacuum units tend to be significantly less powerful than large, upright ones.
A motorized brush head has rotating bristles to sweep up dirt from the base of carpets and rugs and makes it easier for the weaker suction strength of smaller units to rid the carpets of this debris.
Corded or Cordless
Once you’ve figured out the right size for your cleaning needs, consider whether you want a vacuum with a cord or one without. Although cords can be a tripping hazard, units without them operate on rechargeable batteries and have limited run times. You would need to consider which inconvenience you are willing to live with.
Types of Vacuums You Can Use on Stairs
With the exception of a robot vacuum, any type of vacuum is a conceivable choice. Cordless stick vacuums reign supreme for use on staircases. Canister vacuums are another great choice. However, you can make an upright or a handheld vacuum work too. A central vacuum is also an option. Of course, all types have their pros and cons.
(Cordless) Stick Vacuums for Stairs
Stick vacuums are the most popular choice because they are all lightweight. They are also smaller in terms of width, making them easy to maneuver on a staircase. If you want more versatility from your stick vac, there are many models that transform into a handheld that you can use for quick spot cleaning.
These vacuums come in corded and cordless versions. Cordless stick vacuums are more convenient, and they seem to be the current cordless stick vacuum trend. Although they usually don’t produce as much suction as full-sized uprights and canisters, their suction is anything but weak.
Canister Vacuums for Stairs
Canister vacuums produce plenty of suction to lift dirt from carpeted stairs. You can get a canister vacuum with or without a bagged dirt-collection system. Since the pole is attached to a flexible hose, you don’t have to tote the canister up each step as you vacuum.
While canister vacuums on wheels offer incredible under and around-furniture cleaning action, they aren’t the best choice for steps. Wheeled canister vacuums tend to be too bulky to fit on a step, and it’s difficult to keep them stationary on a staircase. Although you’ll have to pick up the canister, wheel-free models are slimmer and more stable.
Backpack vacuum cleaners are a spinoff of the canister vacuum. As their name suggests, you carry the housing on your back by securing the straps to your shoulders, chest and torso. The appeal of a backpack vacuum is that it leaves both hands free. While some weigh almost 20 pounds, there are many half that size.
Upright Vacuums for Stairs
Uprights are the old traditional standby. They generate strong suction, and you can use an upright to vacuum almost any type of flooring. As with canister vacuums, uprights are an excellent whole-house vacuum, but not all models are suitable for stairs.
If you decide to buy an upright vacuum, make sure it’s lightweight – 12 pounds or under. A slim space-saver will have a small enough floor nozzle to fit on a step without hanging over the side. A few manufacturers, such as Shark, produce uprights with a lift-off canister that make staircase vacuuming much less of a hassle.
Handheld Vacuums for Stairs
If weight is a big concern, you won’t find a lighter vacuum than a handheld model, which ranges from 3 to 5 pounds. Since they’re much smaller than any other vacuum, maneuvering one is no problem. You’ll have to bend over to use it, so those who have mobility issues may want to pass on a hand vac.
When picking out a hand vacuum, look for one with an ergonomic handle because it will take you longer to clean the stairs than if you were to use a larger vacuum. You’ll need one with a crevice attachment to vacuum along the stair edges and a lithium-ion battery or a power cord to get reliable suction.
Central Vacuums for Stairs
Stick, canister, upright and handheld vacuum cleaners are all portable. For people who live in two-story and multi-story homes, toting a vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs eventually becomes cumbersome. However, central vacuums provide a fixed alternative, and they last for about 20 years.
You don’t have to strain your back because you’ll only carry a hose attached to a wall receptacle. Plus, there are no cords to plug in or batteries to recharge. The majority of vacuum hoses stretch to 30 feet, which is more than long enough for cleaning stairs, and you can get a crevice attachment to fit it.
Our Recommended Vacuums to Clean your Stairs in 2023
#15 Shark ZU561 Navigator Lift-Away
The Shark ZU561 Navigator Lift-Away is a bagless upright vacuum that’s packing quite the surprise. It’s a part of Shark’s Lift-Away series, which means it can convert from an upright vacuum to a portable canister vacuum with a push of a button. In terms of performance, the ZU561 handles debris like dust, pet hair, and bits of dried pet food with virtually zero issues.
Equipped with a HEPA filter, you know you’re getting the best possible filtration possible, as it’s designed to trap microscopic allergens at 99.97% efficiency. While it is sort of bulky in upright mode, the ZU561 handles all areas—from floors to ceilings—like a champ.
- Self-cleaning brushroll for powerful pet hair pickup with no hair wrap.
- Use as an upright vacuum for powerful floor and carpet cleaning. Or for more portability,...
#14 Bissell Cleanview Deluxe 47R51
The Bissell Cleanview Deluxe 47R51 is a compact handheld vacuum that comes with an astounding number of features. Similar to other handheld models, this unit is lightweight, so carrying it in one hand while cleaning above-ground surfaces, such as stairs, upholstery, car seats, and shelves, is a breeze.
Its tiny profile also makes it a great handheld for poking in between soft cushions, which would otherwise be borderline impossible to do with other kinds of vacuum cleaners without a crevice tool.
But what makes the 47R51 a truly impressive handheld vacuum cleaner is that it comes with a flexible suction hose. You can connect a crevice or wide-mouth tool onto the end of the suction hose to maximize your cleaning efforts on high shelves and drapes.
The dustbin is quite small—about ¾ of a liter—so you might find yourself emptying it out frequently. And its filter isn’t all that impressive, but it does manage to retain most dirt particles and pet hair with ease.
- Dirt cup capacity - 0.78 liters. A powerful and convenient way to clean your home and car
- Flexible rubber nozzle great for removing dirt and hair on upholstery, stairs, and in cars
#13 Shark HV382 Rocket DuoClean
Thanks to its versatility, you can tackle more chores than just the stairs. This Shark HV382 Rocket DuoClean transforms to a handheld vacuum with just a button press, so you can clean your floors, stairs, furniture and blinds. It’s also incredibly lightweight. As an upright vacuum with the 8.5-inch-wide floor nozzle attached, it weighs 9.9 pounds.
In handheld mode, its weight is only 4.6 pounds. You also get the benefit of an extra-long 30-foot power cord, a lifetime warranty and an integrated handle.
Going from upright to handheld is a breeze. Simply push the button on the wand to remove the handheld portion or press the pedal on the floor nozzle with your foot to use the extension tube with the handheld vacuum for extra reach, which comes in handy for stair cleaning. Shark includes a slide-on TruePet motorized brush that gets deep into carpet fibers and lifts clingy pet hair from hard surfaces.
The duster-crevice attachment stored on the vacuum allows you to remove debris from edges and corners as a crevice tool or push the brush part down to suction around the balusters of your staircase. To make sure you don’t miss a single speck of dirt, the hand vacuum is equipped with an LED light.
When you use the vacuum as an upright, you can clean all types of floors. The Rocket DuoClean’s floor nozzle has a dual-brush setup. The hard-bristle brush roll lifts dirt and debris from carpets, and the soft brush roll collects larger particles while it lightly buffs your hard floors.
Maneuvering the vacuum in upright mode is easy since the floor nozzle is designed to swivel and has a pair of headlights. When you’re finished vacuuming, hang the vacuum on the wall mount to save floor space.
All the hair, dirt, dust and debris suctioned by the Rocket DuoClean must pass through a double-layer pre-motor filter before it enters the dust cup, which can hold 0.91 quarts of dry particles. Dust and particles that don’t get caught by the foam and felt filters or dust cup must go through the post-motor filter, drastically reducing the release of dust from the vent.
In order to empty the dust cup, squeeze the release buttons to completely remove it or press the empty-cup button to dump its contents while the cup is still attached to the handheld vacuum.
- Duoclean technology: Dual brushroll system deep cleans carpets and directly engages floors...
- Ultra lightweight it converts into a 4.5 pounds handheld vacuum for versatile above floor...
#12 Shark Rocket HV292
The Shark Rocket HV292 is a large-capacity handheld vacuum that feels feather-light in your hand. Weighing just 3.7 pounds, this vacuum is perfect for anyone who suffers from mobility problems. To enhance its portability, the vacuum is equipped with a looped handle that features a textured grip to prevent your palm from slipping during prolonged use.
Inside of this handheld vacuum, there is a powerful 400-watt motor, which gives you lasting suction from start to finish. With the 1-year warranty from Shark, you can use this vacuum as often as you want and have coverage if a part prematurely fails.
With this vacuum, you get 15 feet’ worth of power cord, which is a sufficient length for staircase cleaning. When vacuuming a straight staircase, you won’t have to stop in the middle of cleaning to plug in the cord to another outlet.
One attachment that you’ll probably use often is the wide dusting brush. When you utilize the click-in-place flexible hose with this attachment, you can extend your reach several additional feet.
There is also a crevice tool that measures 12 inches long, so you don’t have to hunch over to vacuum stair edges and corners. Like the DuoClean at number 10 on this list, the Shark Rocked Hand Vacuum comes with a TruePet motorized brush, which makes vacuuming pet hair and stair treads quick and easy.
On this handheld vacuum, there is a 0.42-quart collection cup, eliminating the hassle of changing messy dust bags. You don’t have to remove the cup to dump the contents. Instead, just press the button to open the swing-hinge lid, and the dirt and debris drop straight into your garbage can.
Accessing the filters is also a problem-free process. At the top of the Shark HV292 Rocket Corded Hand Vac, there is a hatch that lifts open to reveal the dual-layer pre-motor filters, which you only need to rinse once per month.
- Portable and ultra-lightweight. Less than 4 pounds in total
- True Pet Motorized Brush for handheld deep cleaning
#11 Bissell Pet Hair Eraser 2390A
The name of this handheld vacuum for stairs pretty much describes what it is. The Pet Hair Eraser is a handheld designed for pet owners. The main cleaning tool has a motorized brush that digs deep into upholstery and carpet fibers to remove every strand of fur and hair with each pass.
The Pet Hair Eraser is powered by a 14V Li-Ion battery that delivers up to 17 minutes of cleaning time per charge. Every last bit of dust and strand of hair gets stored inside of a 0.7-liter dust bin that’s easy to detach and empty. The 3-stage filtration system ensures maximum cleaning efficiency with minimal spillage.
- Buy Bissell, save pets; Bissell will donate 5 dollars for each pet hair eraser Li Ion...
- Remove more embedded dirt and pet hair with a motorized brush tool and lithium ion...
#10 BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L
From its size to the way it sits on the charging cradle, there is nothing about the BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L 16V Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum that is bulky or cumbersome. This 15.2-watt handheld weighs right at 2.6 pounds, so it’s more than lightweight enough for vacuuming a staircase. It’s also slender with a length of 17.2 inches and a width of 5.5 inches.
The vacuum features a looped handle that makes holding the vacuum a pleasure. With the integration of cyclonic suction, lifting fine dust and heavy dirt is no problem. You also get a 2-year limited warranty from Black & Decker.
While its nozzle is slim just like quite a few handheld vacuums, this hand vac’s nozzle does something that other models cannot do – it rotates. By pushing the rotation button at the base of the nozzle, you can make the nozzle spin, which is fantastic for cleaning the corners where the treads and risers meet on your staircase.
Keeping up with the two attachments is easy. The hinged brush is connected to the nozzle, and all you need to do to pull out the extending crevice tool within the nozzle is lift the brush.
Black & Decker put a lot of thought into the battery they chose to power this vacuum. Thanks to the inclusion of a 16-volt battery, you get suction that doesn’t waver and lasts for 15 minutes per charge cycle, which takes just 4 hours. In contrast to nickel-metal hydride batteries, this lithium-ion battery doesn’t have that annoying memory effect that reduces the battery’s charge capacity over time.
Plus, the small, circular charging dock allows the handheld vacuum to sit diagonally on the charger at the perfect grab-and-go angle. When the battery is fully charged, the charger immediately turns off to protect the battery’s lifespan.
Like the rest of the BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L 16V Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum, the dust cup is designed to be user-friendly. It’s made of translucent, durable plastic, so you can see how full it is at a glance.
Releasing it is a cinch thanks to the fingertip cup release button located next to the equally easy-to-operate power button. By pressing the side nozzle release buttons, you can quickly remove the washable filter and plastic pre-filter any time you need to clean them.
- MULTI-SURFACE USE – Removes hair, dirt, and debris from carpets, car interiors,...
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND PORTABLE – Easy to carry and maneuver, even in tight spaces. Has a...
#9 BLACK+DECKER BDh3020FLFH MAX
With its stick vacuum attachment and powerful battery, this is one of Black & Decker’s most innovative, efficient handheld vacuum cleaners to date. Plus, it’s extremely compact, weighing just 3.2 pounds and standing only 6.5 inches high. Inside this small hand vacuum is a smooth-running motor that produces 24 air watts of cyclonic suction.
You can count on the BLACK+DECKER BDh3020FLFH MAX Lithium Flex Vacuum to help you keep your house clean because it’s backed by a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
At the center of this vacuum’s unique design, the swivel-head stick vacuum attachment lets you quickly go from handheld to floor vacuum in moments. This tool even has a brush roll foot pedal to turn on the brush for carpet vacuuming and turn it off for hard floor cleaning. However, for your staircase, you’ll use the 4-foot flexible hose while in handheld mode.
As you carry the vacuum cleaner by the top curved handle, you can slide on the long crevice tool for stair edge cleaning or the rubber pet-hair brush for removing clingy pet hair from the treads and risers.
There is also a flip-up dust brush that is highly adept at working around balusters. When not in use, the carrying handle acts as a convenient storage compartment for the hose.
You won’t get frustrated by weak battery power. The MAX Lithium Flex contains a 20-volt lithium-ion battery to give you suction that lasts an entire charge cycle. With a 20-minute run time and no-fade suction, you can tackle your staircase and other intensive chores.
Thanks to the battery’s 4-hour charge time, you don’t have to wait long to use the handhel vacuum again. As a bonus, the charger offers a place for you to store the vacuum’s attachments.
The BLACK+DECKER BDh3020FLFH MAX Lithium Flex Vacuum also boasts an excellent filtration system. Both the inner pleated filter and outer plastic pre-filter are reusable, and they work together to trap large and small particles, including fine dust. With the vacuum’s cyclonic action, most of the dirt and dust enters the easy-open 18.9-ounce debris container, prolonging the life of the filters.
- CORDLESS, PORTABLE, and ULTRA COMPACT - 20V MAX Lithium Hand Vac with stick vac floor...
- FOUR FOOT FLEXIBLE HOSE - Clean floor to ceiling.
#8 Bissell AeroSlim 29869
From its appearance alone, the AeroSlim by Bissell is a pretty out-of-this-world handheld. The slim profile and ultra-lightweight build (a sliver under two pounds) make this a wonderfully easy-to-use vacuum cleaner for removing dirt and debris on stairs, upholstery, drapes, and countertops. Plus, it’s small enough to fit comfortably inside of your car while you charge it.
Speaking of charging, this is a cordless unit that, at most, runs for 12 minutes per full battery. User estimates show that it takes roughly two hours to reach max capacity, which can be a huge annoyance if you have messes to clean now. It comes with a 2-in-1 crevice tool and dusting brush that you simply pop into the mouth, making for quick swapping as you vacuum. Inside is a two-tier washable filter that traps most microscopic contaminants from leaving the exhaust. A single filter lasts for roughly 12 months before it needs to be replaced.
- Every Bissell purchase helps save pets. Bissell proudly supports Bissell Pet Foundation...
- Cordless Power: Lithium-ion battery provides up to 12 minutes of cordless cleaning power...
#7 Shark CH901 UltraCyclone Pro
The CH901 Ultracylone Pro is a futuristic-looking handheld vacuum cleaner that does an excellent job at picking up debris hiding in between steps and cushions. Even without the crevice tool, the narrow nozzle pokes effortlessly into hard-to-reach areas to extract every bit of dust and debris hiding from plain sight. Weighing just 2.2 pounds, it’s fairly lightweight by handheld vacuum standards, and users shouldn’t have any problems lifting it overhead to clean shelves, curtains, and other above-ground surfaces.
What we find most impressive about the CH901 is its battery. A single charge, which takes about two hours to complete, can provide roughly 30 minutes of continuous vacuuming, giving you the ability to spot-clean more of your home or cars with less waiting around. You can connect either a crevice tool or a standard dusting brush onto the nozzle for added cleaning performance in tight spaces. With the CleanTouch Dirt Eject system, you can toss out the contents of the XL dustbin with a single press of a button.
- Two ultra-powerful cyclonic air streams for incredible suction and long-lasting filter and...
- Features an XL dust cup to tackle big jobs
#6 Shark CH951 UltraCyclone Pet Pro Plus
The CH951 is a durable handheld vac. While it’s made almost completely out of plastic composite, it doesn’t feel cheap or weak in the hand, though we can’t say the same thing for the dustbin’s plastic frame. Its battery life is also sub-par at just around ten minutes per charge, but as a spot-cleaning tool that you’ll use infrequently, it certainly does the trick.
This handheld vacuum cleaner uses dual-cyclonic suction to draw in fine and large debris. All of your floor and above-ground debris gets stored inside of an XL dustbin that’s capable of holding more than a session’s worth of dust. It also uses CleanTouch Technology, which ejects the contents of the bin with a single push of a button.
With the CH951, you’ll get a self-cleaning pet brush that prevents long strands of pet hair from tangling around the bristles, a standard brushing tool for vents and upholstery, and a crevice tool to clean tight spots like corners.
- Two ultra-powerful cyclonic air streams for incredible suction and long-lasting filter and...
- Detachable self-cleaning Pet Power Brush eliminates hair wrap from the floor, upholstery,...
#5 Bissell AutoMate 2284W
The Bissell AutoMate 2284W is a one-of-a-kind handheld vacuum that’s designed to remove pet hair from carpeted surfaces and tight corners. It runs off of a 14V rechargeable battery that supplies around 15 minutes of cleaning per charge, which can take up to two hours to fully refill. Another thing that makes this handheld vacuum unique is that, apart from the pet brush, it comes with only a crevice tool.
In terms of performance, you can expect a lot from the AutoMate. The motorized pet brush digs deep into carpeted surfaces to remove strands of fur from the roots. There are also super-bright LEDs that illuminate your cleaning area, exposing dust bunnies and hair trapped in tight spaces.
All of the suctioned debris is stored inside of a 0.7-liter dustbin, which is simple to detach and empty out. But what really sets this handheld vacuum apart is its flexible crevice tool. It bends to the shape of hard-to-reach areas to extract more debris in less time.
- Dirt cup capacity - 0.7 liters. Designed for total-car cleaning with a long-lasting...
- 14V lithium ion battery for lithium powered cleaning
#4 Eureka Flash NES510
If you’re looking for a hard-hitting stair cleaning beast, then the Eureka Flash NES510 is a worthy option. It’s a corded stick vacuum that converts into a handheld vacuum to eliminate debris from all above-ground surfaces. With the extension wand, you can clean much more than just stairs—anything two feet overhead is easily accessible by swinging the NES510 upward.
The benefit of having a corded vacuum cleaner is that it can practically run indefinitely. You don’t need to wait several hours for a battery to charge and supply just around 15 minutes of runtime. Plus, it sports a beefier motor, which users will appreciate when it comes time to clean medium-pile carpets.
The 11-inch-wide floorhead means fewer passes to clean spacious floors while also optimizing maneuverability around furniture. The entire unit can be disassembled and stored in tight spaces in no time. At just 6.3 pounds, it’s fair to say that moving, lifting, and transporting the NED510 is a breeze.
Eureka Flash Intro Video
- Multi floor cleaning with fingertip brush roll controls and motorized floor nozzle to...
- Lightweight, at only 6.3 Pounds. Easily converts to a portable hand vacuum for convenient...
#3 BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster HHVK515JP07
The Dustbuster HHVK515JP07 is a pet-friendly carpet, stair, and upholster cleaner that uses a powerful motor to draw in more air while powering the motorized brush roll. In just a few swipes, you can get rid of more than surface debris from smooth and carpeted surfaces.
It comes with a dual-filter setup that consists of a pre-filter for larger particles and a washable cloth-mesh filter for finer ones. All of the collected debris is stored inside of a moderately sized dustbin, which you can empty with a single push of a button.
A single charge of the Dustbuster’s battery can provide as much as 20 minutes of cleaning, which isn’t terrible by cordless handheld vacuum standards. What most people love about this vacuum cleaner is that the crevice tool is integrated onto the device, allowing you to swap between cleaning tools on the fly.
- #1 BRAND IN HAND VACS**
- OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE - 20V MAX* lithium-ion battery provides high suction power and...
#2 Bissell IconPet 22889
The Bissell Iconpet 22889 is a cordless stick vacuum that delivers a ton of suction to pick up more debris per pass. The motorized brush roll spins at a maximum of 3200 RPM, which gently massages smooth floors while also extracting debris from low- and medium-pile carpeting in less time. The floorhead has LEDs that illuminate dark spaces and expose dust bunnies in their hiding spots.
Built with a Mess-Free Dirt Tank and Clean-Side Technology, the Iconpet does a much better job at picking up and storing common allergens like dander and pollen. While it doesn’t come with a HEPA filter, the standard filter works nearly as well at keeping dust from shooting out of the exhaust.
This is a cordless stick vacuum that cleans for up to 30 minutes per charge, which can take anywhere from three to four hours. You can also convert the Iconpet into a handheld unit and attach any of the cleaning tools, including the motorized floorhead.
Bissell ICONpet Intro Video
- High Performance digital motor spins at up to 420 miles per hour for powerful cordless...
- 22v Lithium ion Battery offers cordless convenience with three cleaning modes
#1 Dyson V11 Torque Drive
If you want the best vacuum cleaner around, Dyson models should be the first to consider. The V11 Torque Drive is a stick vacuum cleaner that uses a 7-cell Li-Ion battery pack. A fully-charged pack provides as much as 60 minutes of cleaning—more than enough to vacuum entire staircases.
The shining feature of the V11 Torque Drive is its digital motor. The tool’s main body notifies users about remaining battery power, maintenance issues, as well as displays which mode is currently activated (low, medium, high). This stick vacuum also features a unique DLS system that automatically switches to high gear when vacuuming carpets.
- Dyson's most intelligent, powerful cordless vacuum. Twice the suction of any cordless...
- Dyson technology helps create a cleaner, healthier home - Our vacuums and purifiers are...
Vacuum for Stairs Buying Guide
Cordless Is Safer But Corded Can Work Too
The debate between cordless and corded has gone on for years. Usually, deciding between a corded or a cordless vacuum is a matter of personal preference. However, for vacuuming stairs, a cordless vacuum is safer because there’s no cord causing a tripping hazard. Plus, you won’t have to deal with running out of slack halfway up the stairs.
Although there is a cord with which to contend, you don’t have to scratch off corded vacuums from your shortlist. The key to finding a workable corded vacuum cleaner is getting one with a long enough power cord. Regardless, don’t discount cordless vacuums for their suction power. Modern cordless vacuums rival corded ones in terms of suction strength.
A Vacuum You Can Carry Comfortably
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of choosing a vacuum is getting one you can maneuver easily. Make sure the vacuum is lightweight enough for you to lift. Most people can manage to tote 10 pounds or less up and down a staircase. However, those who have chronic joint pain may want to go a little lighter.
Don’t forget the handle. Avoid any vacuum with a handle that contorts or strains your wrist. Handles that are looped or D-shaped are the most comfortable. The gun-grip style of handle is also ergonomic. All the controls it has, such as the power or variable-suction button, should be within easy access.
Hard or Carpeted Stairs
Hard-surface stairs and carpeted stairs don’t require the same level of vacuuming power. Vacuums without a brushroll work well for stairs covered in hardwood. The same rule applies to tiled stairs. Suction alone is sufficient for these surfaces. A bristled brushroll could scratch hardwood and tile; however, a vacuum with a soft roller is perfectly fine.
For stairs covered in carpet, straight suction won’t clean them, and a soft roller can’t penetrate below the surface of the carpet’s fibers. Only a brushroll with hard bristles can reach lift all the dirt from your carpet. If you have pets, a brushroll-equipped vacuum cleaner is a must-have.
Attachment Tools for Detailed Vacuuming
No matter the flooring on your stairs, there are at least two attachments you’ll need – a crevice tool and a flexible hose. The crevice tool is a tapered wand with an angled or a flat edge. This wand will get rid of all the dirt that settles on the wall and riser edges of each tread.
Cleaning in between the balusters is tricky. A crevice wand alone won’t be able to reach all the awkward spots because it can’t bend. However, if you attach the crevice tool to a flexible hose, you’ll be able to vacuum around the balusters without hurting your wrist or leaving debris behind.
You also need a brush attachment. For hard floors, a non-motorized brush with stationary bristles will attract dust and pet hair. If there is a low-pile runner on the stairs, a non-motorized brush is a gentle yet effective choice. To vacuum fully carpeted stairs, the brush attachment should have a rotating bristled roller – often called a motorized brush.
What Is the Perfect Vacuum for Cleaning Stairs?
The answer to this question is partly subjective. You may feel like a handheld vacuum is the most comfortable, convenient option while your neighbor down the street simply can’t live without her canister vacuum. The answer also depends on the type of staircase in your home.
Are the stairs covered in laminate wood, carpet or hardwood with a runner? How are they configured? Curved and spiral staircases are more challenging to vacuum than straight, winder or half-landing staircases.
There are some general characteristics that make a vacuum cleaner well-suited for staircase cleaning.
Like any vigorous household chore, vacuuming is a great way to fit in a little bit of exercise into your busy day. Regardless, the act of toting a vacuum up and down the stairs shouldn’t feel like an Olympic weightlifting event. You definitely want to look for a lightweight model.
However, what one person considers light may be too heavy to another. Again, the ideal weight comes down to your personal comfort level.
Usually, a vacuum cleaner under 10 pounds is typically a safe bet because the time it takes to clean a staircase can feel twice as long with a heavy vacuum in your hand. Another facet to keep in mind is the measurements. How long, wide and deep is the vacuum? Is it bulky or slim? It’s always easier to carry a compact vacuum cleaner than a big one.
You can have a vacuum that’s as light as a feather, but that only gets you so far if it forces you to contort your body while you struggle to keep your grip as you attempt to clean corners and edges. Look at the handle. Is it made to fit comfortably in your hand? Does it have rubber or textured surface to help you hang onto it?
Some vacuum cleaners are even equipped with a shoulder strap for additional support. There are also vacuums with a telescopic wand that prevents post-vacuuming back and joint aches.
Besides the previously mentioned telescopic wand that allows you to clean more steps without moving, there are other features that can save you time. A flexible hose can also allow you reach further. Plus, it can bend, so you can thoroughly suction the debris around the balusters without making awkward movements. If the vacuum is a bagless model, pay attention to the dust cup’s capacity.
The bigger the cup, the fewer number of times you’ll need to empty it while vacuuming. Another feature to look at is the vacuum’s power cord. A 12-foot cord will have you pausing your cleaning session to switch electrical outlets, which is a time waster. Conversely, a battery-powered vacuum should offer a sufficient run time between charges, so you can clean the entire staircase in one fell swoop.
No matter what type of vacuum you use to clean your stairs, you will need at least one attachment tool to get the job done. If you have a vacuum with a multi-tool that combines more than one tool in a single attachment, that is even better.
However, what matters more is how the attachment connects and detaches from the vacuum cleaner. Can you push it on and pull it off, or is there a button to press that releases it? Most importantly, is there a storage compartment on the vacuum? You want the attachments to be on hand at all times.
The suction system is crucial. If you have pets that shed hair or children who track dirt and crumbs, you absolutely need a vacuum cleaner with strong, unwavering suction. The suction power will determine how many passes it takes to lift fur and debris.
Ideally, you want to suck up every piece of dirt and hair in one pass. To enhance a vacuum’s pick-up ability, manufacturers often add a brush roll, which lifts dirt and debris and sweeps them into the suction inlet. Some brush rolls are designed to attract hair while others are made to prevent marking hard surfaces.
When deciding on which unit to buy, you always have to keep the surfaces in your house in mind. A home with thick carpets that could trap dust would inevitably need a unit with a stronger sucking ability to get that deep clean all the way to the base of the fibers. You may find an indication of the unit’s suction strength in the product description or manual, although not all producers provide this information.
If no such information is forthcoming, you should be able to glean how much power a corded unit will have on account of the motor’s wattage. For cordless handheld or stick cleaners, you would need to consider the type of batteries being used and the estimated run time of the unit according to the product description.
Occasionally, even the best suction power won’t suffice, as is often the case with carpeted stairs that are frequently used by occupants and guests in the house. To exhume deep-seated dust and dirt from the fibers, you would need to invest in a rotating brush roll. Happily, this is an accessory that comes with many stick vacuums.
If you live in a home with a couple of furry pets, you may want to consider some additional add-ons, such as the anti-tangle feature to avoid blockage with balls of pet fur. Not to mention, stairs won’t be the only surface in the house in need of cleaning, and you’ll want to invest in a range of nozzles and features to get a well-rounded clean of every room in the house.
Vacuuming a staircase is an entirely different process to tackling regular, flat areas in the home. With so many odd shapes and sticky corners to deal with, users have to be much more assiduous in their cleaning process to leave carpeted stairs pristine. Additionally, there is an added physical component, since you would be moving up or down the stairs and would need to carry your cleaning appliance for this journey.
This is why the size and weight of your chosen unit are so important. It’s no good to get halfway through the job and need to take a breather from all the heavy lifting, so you’re going to have to choose a device that is easy to lift and move around.
If, after all of your research and contemplations, you have landed on a stick vacuum, you should go for a model with a swiveling body so that you can turn it and tuck it into tight spaces with increased mobility. You’ll also want a unit with a smooth glide and wheels that don’t easily get stuck.
Another good idea is to invest in an ergonomic handle, as no matter the kind of vacuum you choose, it will help you keep up a consistent clean without tiring out your hands and wrists. For a stair vacuum, a carry handle will help you maneuver up and down the stairs far more gracefully. If you have the funds, there are models with extra accessible controls or even controls that can be operated hands-free with your feet.
Buyers who suffer from asthma or allergies, or even just buyers who have many pets at home, will want to invest in high-efficiency particulate assistance or ‘HEPA’ filters, as these filters are far more effective in trapping even microscopic detritus, pollen, and allergens.
Allergen-free air is a must for homes with small children in general, regardless of whether anyone has allergies or not, so although cleaners equipped with HEPA filters tend to be more expensive, it’s worth the cost. If you are concerned with being environmentally conscious, there are cleaners that have washable filters which can be reused over and over again. This will save you money as well since you won’t have to purchase new replacement filters nearly as often as you would in the case of a unit with non-reusable filters.
Bagged vs Bagless Cleaners
Each kind of cleaner, bagged or bagless, will have pros and cons, so deciding between these two options is really about your preferences. Bagged units will require that you purchase additional replacement bags once the current one reaches full capacity. The dust has little chance of escaping the bag, though, so this may be ideal for users with allergies.
There will, of course, be the increased cost of having to buy new bags regularly, and it may not be environmentally sound to use disposable bags. The disposable bags also tend to have a larger capacity than generic dust tanks in bagless models, so it’s not like you’ll have to replace the bag after each and every clean.
Bagless models are perhaps a bit more cost-effective and environmentally sound since you can wash out the dust cup and reuse it pretty much indefinitely. However, this means the user must come into contact with the debris therein in order to dispose of it into the trash and wash the sides of the canister.
This may be helped if your unit has a HEPA filter, as much of the debris will be trapped therein. An additional inconvenience is the reduced capacity of most dust cups, which means you will have to detach and clean the tanks of bagless models more often than you’d have to dispose of the bag in bagged models.
Taking on Stairs: Tips and Tricks
Clear Away Any Objects
Before vacuuming, you will need to remove toys or clothing items that may have been discarded on the stairs, as these will obstruct the vacuum and small objects could get caught in the suction pipe and cause damage.
Because dust tends to get trapped in the small nooks of the stairs where there tends to be less traffic, you will want to start in the corners and move out to the open areas of the stairs. There are accessories that can help you reach tricky spaces, such as a crevice tool which can be attached to the intake spout of some models. It may even be useful to do all of the corners ad balusters going one direction and the larger spaces going the other way. This way, you won’t have to remove the crevice tool for each step.
Staircases are one the most high-traffic areas of the home. However, they usually don’t get enough attention because cleaning them is tedious and time-consuming. No matter how well-kept the rest of your home looks, a neglected staircase detracts from the home’s overall cleanliness.
With the right vacuum, you can streamline this chore. However, use the wrong vacuum, and the task becomes something you dread. If you’ve already begun your stair vacuum search, you undoubtedly have a few questions.
How does one Vacuum Carpeted Stairs?
Your first step is always to remove any objects so as not to obstruct your clean or clog your intake spout. You should also consider dusting the stairs, mainly the balusters and railings, before starting. Use the crevice tool for each and every corner going up the stairs, and once you have reached the top, remove the crevice tool and use a rotating brush on the larger carpeted areas of the stairs to extract dirt within the fibers as you are going down. Once that is done, use the regular intake spout to vertically run the vacuum over each stair to pick up any remaining detritus and organize the fiber neatly into one direction.
How Often do Carpeted Stars Need to be Vacuumed?
The stairs should be vacuumed as regularly as the rest of the house, or whenever you begin to notice any visible dust or debris on them.
Are there Robot Vacuums Capable of Cleaning Stairs?
At this stage, robot vacuums are very limited in terms of mobility and will have trouble moving up and downstairs. They do better on flat surfaces.
What Style of Vacuum Is the Best for Cleaning Stairs?
Many people have a standard upright vacuum cleaner in their home. Unless the upright is extremely lightweight, carrying it up and down the stairs can prove problematic. If you choose to use an upright for staircase vacuuming, make sure the floor head is small enough to sit on the treads; otherwise, it will tumble down the stairs.
A stick vacuum is a great alternative to the upright since stick vacs have a slimmer profile. Either way, the vacuum will need attachments to get the job done.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is the canister vacuum. With a canister vac, you have the ability to roll the vacuum over the floors in your house while still getting the portability you need to lift and carry the vacuum up those pesky stairs. These vacuums usually come with an array of attachments and a long hose to make detailing easier. A more compact choice is the handheld vacuum.
Although you can’t use a handheld to clean your floors, these vacuums are easy to use on the stairs. If you just can’t decide, there are also convertible vacuums that go from upright or stick to handheld or canister, giving you the best of both worlds.
Are Cordless Vacuums All They’re Cracked up to Be?
Essentially, yes. Battery-operated vacuums do not restrict your cleaning radius. Unlike corded vacuums, you don’t have to be within reach of an electrical outlet to use a cordless vacuum. However, you shouldn’t discount the corded kind. If you buy a vacuum with a long enough power cord, you’ll still get all the reach you need from one electrical outlet to vacuum your stairs.
Since cordless vacuums run off battery power, you can only vacuum for as long as the battery stays charged. When buying a cordless vac, you want to make sure the battery has enough juice to make it through an entire staircase cleaning.
Look for vacuums with a lithium-ion battery as opposed to a nickel-metal hydride battery because lithium-ion batteries have the lasting power that the nickel-metal version doesn’t have.
What Attachments Are Necessary for Stair Vacuuming?
Almost every vacuum cleaner comes with two basic attachments – a dusting brush and a crevice tool. You’ll need both to get into the corners and edges on your stairs. Some brushes are triangular shaped for full corner cleaning while others are wide to cover more surface in one pass, which is helpful for vacuuming treads and risers.
As far as any attachment goes, the longer it is, the easier vacuuming will be on your back. Tools like flexible hoses and sliding wands extend your reach too.
Is a Trigger Switch More Convenient Than a Power Button?
There are two types of on-off switches that vacuum manufacturers put in their products. Some vacuum cleaners have a traditional power button. Whether you push it, slide it or rock it, operating the power button is a straightforward process. However, a power button can quickly become aggravating if it isn’t located in a convenient place.
Since staircase vacuuming requires you to carry the vacuum in one hand, you’ll need the power button to be within reach of your fingertips, not somewhere that forces you to let go of the hose or attachment and use the other hand.
A trigger switch eliminates the issue of placement because these switches are always built into the handle, allowing you to squeeze it to run the vacuum and simply let it go to stop the vacuum. Of course, if you have small hands, carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritic joints, a trigger switch may not be the best option.
Does a Brush Roll Clean Better Than Straight Suction?
The answer to this question depends on the strength of the suction and the material used to cover the stairs. A vacuum cleaner with cyclonic suction and no brush roll can certainly give your stairs a thorough cleaning.
If you’re going the cordless route, you’ll need one with a high-powered battery to give you the necessary suction for vacuuming carpeted surfaces. Otherwise, a brush roll is ideal for cleaning deep into carpet fibers.
In terms of hardwood or laminate wood stairs, you can get away with using a straight-suction vacuum.
In fact, you’ll never have to worry about tough bristles scratching the steps. However, there are vacuum cleaners with soft brush rolls that preserve the integrity of hard-surface steps. Some brush roll vacuums even have two brush rolls to tackle all surfaces while others allow you to turn the brush roll on and off with the flip of a switch.
Is There a Better Way to Vacuum the Stairs?
Even with a vacuum designed specifically for staircase upkeep, the vacuum cleaner alone can’t streamline the vacuuming process if you don’t take the most efficient approach. How should you tackle this chore? Before you pull out your vacuum, you have to clear the steps.
This means picking up the shoes, toys and other random items your children haphazardly left behind on the staircase as well as that basket of laundry you’ve been meaning to put away for the past two days. You don’t want to risk clogging your vacuum with a stray sock or action figure.
Once the vacuum is out and ready to go, you should start where debris accumulate the most – the edges, corners and around the balusters. This is when attachments like a crevice tool come in handy. Work your way up the stairs from the bottom step, focusing on the corners and where the risers and tread meet. Then, vacuum around the circumference of each baluster as you walk back down to the bottom step.
After you put the detailing tool away, you can point your attention toward the risers and tread, vacuuming from riser to tread to riser as you walk up the stairs one more time. Of course, it’s easier to execute these instructions if you have the right type of vacuum cleaner.
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You have a wide array of options available for stair vacuuming. Stick vacuums are lightweight wonders, especially stick-handheld combos. Canister, upright and backpack vacuums offer full-powered suction strength. Handheld vacs are small enough to use anywhere, and central vacuums relieve you of carrying a vacuum cleaner altogether.
No matter the type of vacuum or whether it’s corded or cordless, make sure its weight is manageable and its handle is comfortable. Unless it’s a handheld, canister or central vacuum, it should be able to fit on the stairs. You’ll need a hose and a crevice tool, and a brushroll is a must-have for carpeted steps.
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Last Update: 2024-02-20 | Affiliate links/Images from Amazon Product Advertising API