Best Vacuums for Stairs

Have you ever tried to vacuum stairs with a heavy upright vacuum cleaner, while dragging the cord and trying to get into all the nooks, crannies, and the surface on the risers? What a difficult task.

Heavy upright vacuum cleaners, with their rotating brushes, are perfect for carpets but often difficult to use on the stairs carpet. Trying to get the vacuum to stay straight on the carpet is almost impossible and the final result is often not perfectly clean.

Never mind, the solution is here! Don’t give up just yet, as we are going to show you just how easy it can be to vacuum stairs.

Which vacuum is best for stairs?

There are so many handheld lightweight vacuums and cordless mini vacuums on the market that which to buy is a personal choice. It’s important to consider all the specific needs for your own home before making your purchase.

The type of flooring you are trying to clean is important. Most stairs are carpeted over wood or cement. Carpets have tight spots to reach, and you have to get into every corner. The dust sticks out like a sore thumb where you haven’t been able to reach.

While hardwood varnished stairs are great looking, they are very easily scratched. They are also not a user-friendly type of surface for vacuum brushes.

Also consider what type of staircase your hom has: how steep, how many steps, and if the staircase is curved. Grand curved staircases with carved bannisters are fairly wide, taking more time to vacuum. These staircases need a fairly large vacuum head.

Features deployed by the very best stair vacuums

Any vacuum can theoretically be used on stairs. It’s just how easy or how difficult it is to accomplish the job. We have made a list of the attributes a good staircase vacuum needs to have.


A lot of effort can be taken out of vacuuming the stairs by using a lighter unit but it all depends on the task ahead. Is there a lot of flooring to vacuum, and how long will it take? A vacuum of around ten pounds would be a good choice for ease of carrying.

Mobility and Ease-Of-Use

A vacuum with a good carrying handle is a good idea, making it easier to use and carry. Shoulder straps are a good invention and make lighter work of carrying the unit. You can find a balance with the weight your shoulder will take. A unit with a shoulder strap is a good choice but make sure the strap is wide enough so that is comfortable. Most come with lightweight hoses and a variety of brushes to fit on the end. An extension hose attachment is fantastic at getting into nooks and crannies.

Having a smaller lightweight unit means the bag will fill more often, and need frequent emptying. Some vacuums are easily emptied while others are messy. Some come with cloth bags that need to be well shaken.

The best type of bag in our opinion is the disposable bag. Simply open the unit and discard the bag, inserting a new one at the same time This is ideal with families who suffer from asthma or allergies, as there is no dust to deal with. The only drawback here is that the disposable bags are fairly expensive, so perhaps the material bag is more economical for your needs.

Most of these units also have a filter to stop really fine dust from entering the motor compartment. The filters have to be cleaned also. The best way is to rinse it with some soapy water. As they are often open cell foam filters, they dry quickly. Some have disposable filters as well, so a cost is involved in buying new ones.

Some vacuums are bagless which gives you a larger compartment to hold the dust. In any event, if the vacuum is under ten pounds it is easier to carry around.

Useful Features Save Time

Some manufacturers have gadgets that can be attached to the vacuum. The cord needs to be a decent length unless you wish to keep plugging and unplugging the unit. A 12 foot cord is a handy length but even so, you may need an extension cord.

Attachments Included

Vacuums today have many attachments, like brushes, pointed nozzles, and crevice attachments for getting right into the corner. For cleaning stairs, you will need all the attachments you can find. Should you be vacuuming carpet, the use of a good broad brush is needed to get right down into the pile. For a thick carpet with a deep pile, the best attachment here is a motorized brush kit that dives deeply into the carpet removing all sorts of debris that collects there.

Before deciding on a vacuum, make sure you are not using it for purposes other than the stairs. If it’s the stairs only that you need to clean a portable handheld unit might be ideal. There are plenty of these on the market, but remember these cannot be used on large floor spaces.

Suction Power is Important

Suction power is important to deep clean crevices or good quality carpeting. The highest power is the best to go for, but remember, the more suction power the bigger the motor and the heavier it will be. Some manufacturers give a rating for the machine in amps or volts, however, you need to see the wattage. The higher the wattage, the more suction power you get. The machine also needs to be robustly built, have tight rubber seals and strong housing. Remember too that vacuums age and become less effective, so the better the unit the longer it will last.

Some Tips to Make Vacuuming the Stairs Easier

It is never easy to climb stairs and vacuum at the same time, so here are a few things to do first:

Clear the Stairs

You should at least clear the stairs of and clutter. Getting the vacuum into the right place and then finding things that will impede you is irritating. You might also vacuum up some bits and pieces that weren’t meant to be discarded, and will stop up your vacuum hose.

Start in the Corners

The dust is usually thicker in the corners. Walking up and down the stairs does, to a certain extent, push the dust there. Whether you start at the top of the stairs or the bottom makes little difference. It may depend on your power outlet.

Work Smart

Start with the corners and balusters on the way up (or down as the case may be). Doing the same parts together will ensure you don’t have to change the attachments as often.

One Step at a Time

Cleaning staircases is never easy and is time absorbing. You need the right equipment, small yet powerful enough. Trying to drag an upright vacuum up the stairs or a canister type even with a hose is not an easy task.

We recommend taking a look at the Shark Rocket Ultra handheld vacuum. This machine comes with five tools for making things a little easier. The variety of attachments provided should suffice for even the most difficult stairs!

How do you keep your stairs clean? Leave a comment below.


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