Wondering how to vacuum stairs properly? Learning how to clean carpet on stairs is an essential part of home care. Stairs are one of the most heavily trafficked areas of a house. With all of those feet stomping up and down them all day long, stairs can quickly become an eye sore, especially if they are carpeted. Thankfully, vacuuming stairs regularly can keep them looking neat and clean.

How To Vacuum Stairs:

How to clean carpet on stairs safely and effectively


The first step to developing proper technique for vacuuming stairs is to buy a vacuum specifically designed to handle stairs, both carpeted and uncarpeted. There are many different types of staircases, so make sure to shop around for a vacuum that will fit your needs specifically.

The best vacuums to use on stairs are compact, lightweight, handheld vacuum cleaners. Many handheld vacuum cleaners are specifically designed to vacuum carpeted stairs.

Some are also specifically designed to handle pet hair and risers. For instance, the Eureka Easy Clean has filters before the vents that specifically catch hair as well as an adjustable brush visor so that you can vacuum vertical surfaces on stairs easily.

Once you have the correct vacuum for your needs, you are ready to decide when and how often to vacuum.

Cleaning stairs with a vacuum

As with most chores, vacuuming is best done regularly so that the dirt doesn’t build up around the house. Even when floors look clean, they might not be. You would be surprised to see how much dirt a vacuum cleaner can pick up off of a carpet that looks perfectly clean otherwise.

Many home owners find that vacuuming once a week keeps all carpets and floors neat and tidy. Others can get away with vacuuming once per month, especially if they do not have small children or pets. But if you do have a family or humans or animals living with you, it’s best to err on the side of vacuuming more often than not.

Choose a day the works best for you schedule, such as a Sunday afternoon or Tuesday evening. Remember to allow time for dusting before hand so that you can capture all of the dirt and dust that may have accumulated on surfaces above the floor.

After dusting, prepare the space for vacuuming. Clear the space of loose items and move any large objects that are in the way, such as furniture or children’s toys. Then, get to work!


How To Vacuum Stairs Easily And Effectively

Here are tips for developing a good vacuuming technique so that you can keep your house clean without straining muscles or performing unsafe maneuvers:

  1. Stretch and prepare to lift your vacuum. If you have a condition (such as arthritis or back pain) or are not strong enough to lift the vacuum up the stairs, do not attempt to drag or pull the vacuum down the stairs. Avoid upright vacuum cleaners that are cumbersome. Instead, opt for a handheld or backpack vacuum.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.

Great Vacuum Cleaners for Arthritis Patients Who Have Trouble With Stairs


Vacuuming in general can also be very difficult for people who have conditions such as arthritis and back injuries. It just hurts too much. After all, according to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is affects joints and is the leading cause of disability in America. For anyone with this disease, vacuuming could be way too painful to do it properly or frequently enough.

Also, pulling and pushing a vacuum around the house is often impossible for anyone with mobility issue or those who need assistance moving around.

Thankfully there are many self propelled vacuums that can take most of the strain out of vacuuming. Robotic vacuums like the iRobot Roomba 690, which deftly maneuvers around furniture to automatically cover your entire floor space in just a few hours.

You can control it with your smart phone via an app that gives you information about battery life and lets you schedule cleanings remotely so that you do not even have to turn it on. It will simply turn itself on at the scheduled time and get to work.

Of course, you will have to empty it from time to time, but thankfully the rest of the work is done for you. The iRobot Roomba and other robot vacuums like it can even be controlled using Alexa or Google home. That means the device is truly hand free, which is perfect for anyone with limited dexterity or mobility.

The main downside to robot vacuums like the Roomba is that they do not work on stairs very well. For that, the best vacuum to use if you have arthritis or mobility issues is going to be a backpack vacuum.

Backpack vacuums are designed to put the weight of the vacuum on your hips instead of the more delicate joints in your shoulders, arms, knees and fingers. Some backpack vacuums even come with chiropractic and ergonomically designed harnesses, such as the Hoover Commercial Lightweight Backpack Vacuum, C2401.

Final Thoughts On How To Clean Carpeted Stairs

At the end of the day, it all comes down to selecting the right vacuum for your stairs while taking your own abilities into account. Handheld vacuums are often the best choice and the Eureka Easy Clean is our top pick for this category.

Here is a quick video explaining why. Happy cleaning!