Stairs are one of the trickiest parts of a home to keep clean, especially if they are carpeted. They are also one of the most highly trafficked parts of the house, which means they are bound to get dirty and compressed over time.
Carpeted stairs are much more difficult to clean and require more frequent cleaning to look nice, so buying a good vacuum specifically designed for stairs is invaluable.
The best vacuum for stairs is the Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner. It is hard to find a better designed spot lifting stair vacuum that provides deep cleaning for carpeted stairs than the SpotClean Pro.
It does have a cord, though. If you are looking for cordless options, scroll down to the end of this article for the best cordless handheld vacuum cleaner for stairs.
How To Vacuum Stairs:
Developing Proper Technique For Vacuuming Different Types Of Staircases
The best way to vacuum stairs is with a compact, lightweight, handheld vacuum cleaner. As we mentioned in our full article on how to vacuum stairs properly, many handheld vacuum cleaners are specifically designed to vacuum carpeted stairs.
Some are also specifically designed to handle pet hair. For instance, the Eureka Easy Clean has filters before the vents that specifically catch hair.
Once you have the correct vacuum for your needs, make sure to practice safety before vacuuming anything. Importantly, do not over extend yourself and wear proper shoes.
Here are tips for developing a good vacuuming technique so that you can keep your house clean without straining muscles or performing unsafe maneuvers:
- Stretch and prepare to lift your vacuum. If you have a condition or are not strong enough to lift the vacuum up the stairs, do not attempt to drag or pull the vacuum. Avoid upright vacuum cleaners that are cumbersome. Instead, opt for a handheld or backpack vacuum.
- Remove anything large enough to clog your vacuum using a cloth or gloves. Make sure to remove anything might clog the brush or the hose (many of the best vacuums have hoses). Things to watch out for: bits of paper, dirt clods, and dried grass.
- Move sequentially from the bottom step to the top step. This if for safety’s sake and to allow you to fully penetrate the corners of each step. It is much safer to lift a vacuum up than drag it down.
- Edges and corners: attach the smaller crevice tool to the end of the vacuum hose. Push the attached crevice tool deep into the corners of each step. Apply pressure. Trace the edges of each step, making sure to agitate carpets to the bottom of each fiber. You might have to pass over each edge twice or three times for a thorough cleaning. If you have a banister with spindles, trace around the base of each spindle.
- Flat center area: switch to a wider carpet attachment for the hose if one is available or use the main brush head of the vacuum. Go over the wide middle section of each step, called the tread. The tread is the main section where people step and the fibers of carpets in this area are often crushed down over time. Significant force may be required to properly deep clean them. Be sure to flip it over to cover risers (the vertical underside wall of each step).
- Safety first:
- make sure to keep two feet planted on the ground when vacuuming.
- Avoid messy cords on the stairs that could cause someone to trip.
- Do not reach high above your head or extend yourself to far out over the stairs.
- Always hold onto banisters or hand rails when pushing the vacuum.
- Keep your center of gravity as low to the ground as possible.
- Wear proper foot ware. Avoid socks or other foot ware that is slippery or doesn’t protect toes.
For more information, check out Wikihow’s excellent tutorial for vacuuming stairs.
Or watch the following instructional video:
Why Are Handheld Vacuums The Best Vacuums For Stairs?
Why do you need to worry about the design of a vacuum for stairs when most regular vacuums already have attachments and hoses for this purpose?
The short answer: many traditional vacuums are simply too cumbersome to use on stairs.
If you have ever tried to lug a regular upright vacuum around a flight of steps to clean it, then you know what we mean. Also, an upright vacuum will only sweep the main part of each step, leaving the corners dirty.
Even if you do somehow have the dexterity to use the hose attachment to clean the corners of the steps while holding onto the upright vacuum, you are putting yourself in a dangerous position. Many people have fallen while trying to vacuum like that and hurt themselves.
This is less of a problem with cordless stick vacuums, but still, there are better solutions.
What are the best vacuums for stairs? Drumroll please…
1. Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner – Corded
Sure, it looks like a spacesuit helmet with an oxygen hose, but the Bissell SpotClean Pro is one of the most powerful handheld spot cleaners on the market right now. The SpotClean Pro is especially well suited for carpeted stairs that are heavily soiled because it is very light and portable. It does have a cord, but it’s compact size means you can easily carry it up the stairs without much effort.
The SpotClean Pro is designed to reach deep down into your carpet to get the spots and stains out from the bottom to the top of carpet fibers. That way the residue you can’t see deep in the rug will not fester overtime and cause mildew or stains to reappear on your stairs.
The main thing to be aware of with the SpotClean Pro is that it makes use of a combination of warm water, specialized cleaning formulas, and powerful suction to extract all of the dirt and grime from your carpeted stairs. It is not a dry process. So if your carpeted stairs can’t handle warm water treatments, this is not the machine for you.
- Built specifically with stairs in mind
- Easy to carry up stairs and reach spots and stains in deep crevices between steps
- Uses warm water, specialized cleaning formulas, and power suction to deep clean carpets
- Large capacity tank, 3/4 gallon so that you don’t have to refill it as often
- 5 foot long hose and 22 foot long power cord so you can reach anywhere in your home
- 6″ stair tool specifically designed to clean stairs
- Comes with BISSEL Professional formula, but can use any cleaner
Another thing to understand is that the brush does not rotate. You scrub back and forth by hand and loosen the dirt and allergens from the carpet fibers with the red bristles in the brush head.
When you are done with the stairs, the SpotClean Pro will make quick work of sofas and chairs. It will also handle the inside of your car better than any dry handheld vacuum ever could. You can use it on anything with upholstery as long as the surface can get wet.
2. Eureka EasyClean Lightweight Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, Hand Vac Corded, 71B
“What is the best handheld vacuum for stairs,” you ask? That title undoubtably goes to the Eureka EasyClean handheld vacuum cleaner.
At the moment, the Eureka is the most powerful wide nozzle handheld vacuum. That means the nozzle is meant to cover a wide amount of area with each sweep and has an adjustable visor so to make vacuuming risers that much easier.
For convenience, the Eureka has a detachable hose with a slim crevice tool that reaches into the gaps between the wall and the carpet and deep into corners.
While small, the Eureka s a mighty little vacuum cleaner. To make sure the wide brush does not affect the suction power, the Eureka has an extra powerful motor. In fact, the motor is so strong that the exhaust creates a nice breeze.
- Light enough to lift and carry with minimal effort
- Integrated filter with easy to empty canister
- Adjustable visor allows easy access to risers
- 20-foot cord allows you to reach an entire staircase
- 2 motors: one for the brush and one for the main suction power
- 1 Year Warranty and Money-back Guarantee
That motor can seem louder to some, especially those who have sensitive hearing. But the breeze coming through the vent keeps the motor cool and prevents overheating.
With a specific technique developed over time, the Eureka can deep clean any type of carpeted stairs, including curving victorian staircases with delicate banister rungs. The Eureka nozzle is slightly wider than its body, which gives more dexterity around the base of rungs and the undersides of overhanging stairs.
As a thumb push style handheld vacuum cleaner, the Eureka gives you immediate control of the power button right on top of the handle. Turn it on easily with your thumb. The riser visor can be easily adjusted to allow you to vacuum stair risers without having to twist or bend.
3. Shark Rocket Corded Ultra-Light Hand Vacuum for Carpet with TruePet Mini Motorized Brush and 15-foot Power Cord (HV292), Maroon
Next up is the Shark Rocket corded hand vac (hv292), which is a trigger style handheld vacuum cleaner. Like the other vacuums above, it has a cord which gives it more power and unlimited use time.
The Shark Rocket offers two options for cleaning your stairs:
- First, the wide upholstery tool or straight suction nozzle is ideal for cleaning stairs. It is wide enough to cover an entire tread area in one or two sweeps and litter pickers on the top and bottom of the nozzle will help to agitate carpet fibers and release allergens such as pet hair.
- Second, the power nozzle can be attached directly to the handheld motor so that you can use the same power on the stairs that would regularly be applied to the rest of the carpet around the house.
The attachment isn’t needed every time you vacuum, but if you have only ever vacuumed stairs with a regular handheld nozzle, then the high powered nozzle will pick up a lot of extra debris that has likely been missed.
The Shark Rocket is definitely a bit loud but that is due to the powerful motor that provides the strong suction which makes the Shark Rocket famous. That noise does not get louder with the powered nozzle attachment, thankfully.
To reach up high, use the tube extension to add length and reach to the Shark Rocket. The tube extension is very light and does not add to the weight of the Shark Rocket very much at all. Simply attach any of your preferred nozzles to the end of it and get going.
Best cordless handheld vacuum for stairs in general
4. BLACK+DECKER CHV1410L 16V Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum
Not only is the Black and Decker lithium hand vacuum one of the best, cheap cordless hand vacuums in general, it handles stairs like a champ. It is powerful, long lasting and extremely popular. Over 15,000 people have purchased the Black and Decker lithium hand vacuum on Amazon.
The reason people love the Black and Decker is that it offer powerful suction and long lasting parts. The battery takes a few hours to charge and lasts for only around 15 minutes, but once it’s charged, it will hold it’s charge for years. And the vacuum itself will last you for many years before it needs to be replaced. That means it is perfect for short, quick touch up jobs.
When it comes to steps, the Black and Decker is not quite as good as the Eureka EasyClean because the nozzle is fairly narrow and the attachments are not very wide. The narrow nozzle means that it will take a long time to cover stair treads. But the nozzle concentrates the suction so that it pulls dirt out of deep corners and edges, which is often the key to properly cleaning steps.
Best cordless vacuum for carpeted stairs specifically
5. BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Lithium Ion Hand Handheld Cordless Vacuum, Purple
If the Eureka EasyClean is not versatile enough for you, then consider trying the Bissell cordless pet hair eraser handheld vacuum. This vacuum is not as sci-fi looking as Bissell’s SpotClean Pro, but it is cordless and designed to handle both general cleaning tasks and pet hair, particularly on stairs with carpets.
The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser has a motorized brush head to agitate carpeted stairs down to the base of the fibers. That agitation releases allergens such as pet hairs trapped deep inside of the rug that other handheld cordless vacuums will miss.
Say your dog runs inside from the rain and leaves muddy paw prints up the stairs. Or imagine your kids forget to take their shoes off after soccer practice and head up to their bedrooms to get changed.
Simply pull out the Bissell and removed any dirt and stains left behind before they have a chance to settle deep into the fibers of your carpeted steps.
- Motorized brush tool specifically designed to handle pet hair on hard to reach areas such as stairs
- 14V lithium ion battery for long lasting powered cleaning
- Triple-level filtration to prevent hair and allergens from escaping through the exhaust system
- Large, easy-to-empty dirt bin to help capture large amounts of pet hair and dirt all in one go
- Specialized tools including: motorized brush tool, upholstery tool, and crevice tool