Stairs can be a challenge to clean. But even more difficult is finding the right vacuum to clean them. With most staircases being high-traffic, you want a vacuum that will pick every dirt and debris. However, most powerful vacuums are usually bulky. If you have a full staircase, a heavy cleaning device wouldn’t be ideal. So how do you go about finding the best vacuum for stairs from among the many on the market?
I drafted this guide to help you with that. It contains the considerations to make, the ways to tell a good vacuum for the hard-to-reach areas of the staircase, and more. I also picked the best models to make finding the right one easy for you. In the list are vacuums that would suit not only the stairs but also your entire home. Let’s get started.
Top 11 Vacuum Cleaners Perfect for Cleaning Stairs in 2023
|Looks||Product||Spotted price||Type||Weight||Attachments||Last updated|
|BLACK+DECKER Max Flex||$107.99||Cordless handheld||3.2 lbs||– 2-in-1 brush
– long crevice tool
– pet hair brush
|Eureka Easy Clean 71B||Price not available||Corded handheld||5 lbs||– crevice tool||2021-07-09|
|MOOSOO K17||$145.99||Cordless stick||4.6 lbs||– 2-in-1 cleaning brush
– 2-in-1 square brush
– crevice tool
|Tineco A11 Hero Plus||$259.99||Cordless stick||5.5 lbs||– 2-in-1 dusting brush
– crevice tool
|Tineco Pure One S12 Plus||$530.00||Cordless stick||6.6 lbs||– 2-in-1 dusting brush
– crevice tool
– long crevice tool
– multi-angle folding tube
– soft dusting brush
|Dyson V11 Torque Drive||$684.99||Cordless stick||6.6 lbs||– combination tool
– crevice tool
– mini-motorized tool
– soft dusting brush
– stubborn dirt brush
|Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean||$516.00||Upright||17.3 lbs||– combination tool
– tangle-free tool
– stair tool
|Shark ION F80 MultiFlex||Price not available||Cordless stick||8.7 lbs||– crevice tool
– upholstery tool
|Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional||$203.99||Upright||13.7 lbs||– crevice tool||2021-05-06|
|Shark APEX DuoClean||$374.99||Upright||17.1 lbs||– anti-allergen dust brush
– duster crevice tool
– pet multi-tool
– MulitFLEX under appliance wand
|Dibea F20 Max||Price not available||Cordless stick||5.5 lbs||– 2-in-1 bristle brush
– long crevice tool
– motorized brush
My top choices
To summarize, if you have a lot of rugs or wall-to-wall carpeted stairs, an upright or a canister vacuum with an electric brush roll would be an ideal option, in my opinion. If you have tiles, laminates, or hardwoods on your stairs – sticks/cordless vacuums can also do a great job. I recommend handheld vacuums for smaller cleaning tasks. They work just fine for small staircases. With that said, here are some of the greatest vacuum cleaners for stairs one can find in 2023:
Best Choice – BLACK+DECKER Max Flex
Max Flex is around for quite a while, and it’s still one of the best options when it comes to cleaning stairs. Yes, you’ll have to bend in order to use it. But in most cases, bending is needed for a thorough clean. The 24 AW suction power is not that impressive, but it’s good enough to get the job done. It’s easy to empty, easy to wash and easy to move around, as it weighs only 3 lbs. The 3 accessories are all that you need to get those stairs sparking. The price is decent. And the 2-year warranty is a treat.
Best Budget Option – Eureka Easy Clean Hand Vac 71B
The Eureka EasyClean is a corded hand-vacuum that works exceptionally well on stairs, car interiors, and other above-the-floor cleaning chores. Measuring only 7 x 15 x 8 inches, the Eureka 71B has a versatile design that offers ample options for easy maneuvering. The vacuum boasts a hose that can be enhanced with a crevice tool to collect dust, allergens, dirt, fabrics, pet hair, and anything else. The vacuum offers one of the most substantial suction powers in the handheld world, mainly because it’s a corded product. Also, the filters are removable and washable. And the best part is that it’s less than $50.
MOOSOO is a cheap cordless vacuum, priced at $145.99, but which packs all the right features. It’s powerful, delivering 17 kpa of air pressure in MAX mode (with a run-time of 15 mins), and ten kpa in Standard mode (with a run-time of 30 mins). It has HEPA filtration. It’s lightweight, at 3 lbs. And it has a lot of accessories, such as a charging base, a wall holder, a 2-in-1 cleaning brush, a 2-in-1 square brush, and a crevice nozzle. The 2-year warranty is a nice touch for an entry-level cordless. Overall, the MOOSOO delivers one of the worthiest stair vacuums.
Tineco A11 Hero Plus
The A11 Hero is a cordless stick which I presented in detail a while ago. It’s not the latest product from Tineco, so what makes it the smart choice? First of all, it’s cordless, so you don’t have to worry about the power cord. It features interchangeable batteries and comes with a base that charges two at the same time. It’s a stick that weighs less than 6 lbs. And it has a sturdy brush roll which can take care of any floor surface. It comes with a few ideal accessories, which also increase its effectiveness on stairs.
Last but not least, because it appeared in 2018, it now costs much less than newer models. IMO this product blends all the right features for the right price. It has that perfect price/quality ratio you should search for when buying anything, not just vacuum cleaners.
Tineco PURE ONE S12 Plus
The latest cordless vacuum from Tineco is the PURE ONE. Unlike the A11, this appliance can be connected to your smartphone, if you ever need to track your vacuuming patterns, battery life, or cleaning cycles. I don’t see the added value here, but there are also design and performance improvements that can’t be overlooked. The Tineco S12 comes with a longer runtime (100 minutes if both batteries are used), it’s quieter, and it’s also more efficient, thanks to a dirt sensor that adjusts the suction automatically, based on its floor readings. Unfortunately, the PURE ONE is as expensive as a high-end Dyson, but you can think of it as an investment.
Best Cordless – Dyson V11 Torque Drive
The Dyson V11 is one of the best cordless vacuum cleaners money can buy in 2019. Although there are some people who are not satisfied with the fact that in MAX Suction mode the power juice runs dry in 7-8 minutes or with the fact that they can not replace batteries with pre-charged ones as it is in the case of the Shark F80, this product has the lightest weight and the most powerful motor. It can tackle any mess on your stairs, couches, carpets, and hardwood floors. The Dyson V11 has a larger bin, a more efficient battery, and a more powerful motor than the outgoing V10. Because it’s cordless, it’s ideal for people with mobility or back problems who want to have their stairs spotless.
The best part about the Dyson V11 Torque Drive is that it comes with a lot of accessories. This offers you a lot of versatility. It is worth noting that the Dyson V11 comes in 2 different models in the US: Torque Drive and Animal. Dyson decided to release these two different models to meet varying consumer needs. The difference between them is that the Torque Drive has an additional attachment (the mini dusting brush) and features an LCD screen that can show the run-time counter. Unfortunately, the V11 is also the most expensive cordless vacuum from Dyson. Nevertheless, don’t despair; there are some discounts every once in a while.
Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean
One wouldn’t expect to see too many uprights in this top, especially one that is as heavy as the Dyson Ball Animal 2. What makes this vacuum cleaner great for stair cleaning is its long power cord and hose, adding up to a reach of 50 ft. Another selling point for the Total Clean is the large set of accessories. It even has a stair tool, a nozzle made just for this chore alone. The price is a bit stiff, but given the versatility of this product, it is worth it.
Shark ION F80 MultiFlex
Shark is a popular and trusted brand. They are well-known for churning out excellent quality vacuum cleaners. And the ION F80 MultiFlex is one of their most recent and most popular products. The MultiFlex is the most complete cordless unit from Shark. It’s half the price of a V11 Torque Drive (the main contender from Dyson). The MultiFlex blends the simplicity of an upright vacuum cleaner with the finest features of a cordless vacuum system. The unit is designed as a complete HEPA sealed system. Being cord-free, it has the flexibility to handle nearly all cleaning tasks – from hairballs under the furniture to carpeted stairs. Shark hasn’t revealed the suction power, but independent tests rate it at 38 CFM/24 CFM (highest and lowest settings respectively). The transparent bin fits nicely into the main system and can hold up to 11 oz of waste. Other special features include fingertip controls, LED lights, the Active Glide, and DuoClean technology. The machine is quieter than previous versions. Overall, the Shark F80 is a great fit for individuals searching for an all-round vacuum that won’t clean just stairs and floors, but also other places like vents, crevices, and so on. If you’re into this vacuum, keep an eye on seasonal discounts offered by Shark.
Best Upright – Shark APEX DuoClean
One of the best uprights ever created by Shark is the Apex DuoClean with Zero-M. This is a vacuum cleaner that has a lot of technologies included: Powered LiftAway (you can lift the main pod and thus, have closer access to your staircase), DuoClean (cleans bare floors better), AntiAllergen Protection (it’s completely sealed), and Zero-M (the brushroll doesn’t tangle). Things can’t get much better than this. But they are, as the price is almost half of Dyson’s Total Clean.
If you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to spend so much money on a complete vacuuming solution that can also tackle stairs, the Navigator Lift-Away Professional is your safest bet. Since its introduction, this vacuum has been verified by thousands of consumers, and most of them are satisfied with its quality and performance. For a reasonable price tag, you get a strong product, with a big dirt bin and an excellent filtration system. When it comes to cleaning stairs, this Navigator uses the same LiftAway concept to allow you to reach every possible spot.
Dibea F20 Max
Dibea is a small player on the cordless vacuum market. Their most recent model titled F20 Max has great specs. For starters, it’s light, weighing only 5.5 lbs. It’s powerful, delivering up to 48 CFM, which is on the same level as the Tineco S12 Pure One Plus. The 9″ cleaning path makes it comfortable to be used on most types of stairs. Last but not least, it comes with a reasonable asking price.
Upright, Stick, Canister, or Handheld?
When looking for the best vacuum for stairs, you will have several choices. There are upright, canister, stick, and handheld vacuum types. Each has its up and downsides. The type you go for will depend on several factors, as highlighted below.
Because of their height, upright vacuums make cleaning comfortable. You do not need to bend when using them, and you can vacuum for long hours non-stop. That’s something you would want when cleaning the staircase. However, these vacuums are usually heavy, and carrying them up the steps of a staircase can be quite a task. They may not be suitable for seniors or people with health problems.
An upright can also topple accidentally and fall off the stairs. If you have to buy this type of vacuum, consider the weight. Different brands and models weigh differently, and I would advise that you choose the most lightweight. Consider the hose length, too. If long enough, you may not have to move the vacuum up the stairs.
These are usually lightweight and compact, which makes them ideal for stairs. Most modern sticks are battery-powered, and you do not need to worry about cable length or tangles. Unlike in the past, many cordless models on the market today produce amazing suction-enough to rival those that use cords.
When buying a stick vacuum to use on the staircase, ensure that you pick a sturdy, lightweight model. It will clean effectively, and won’t be a problem to move up the steps. Some can even convert into a handheld, making them even more versatile when used to clean staircases.
Powerful and with strong airflow, canister vacuums are, no doubt, effective on a variety of surfaces. For a high-traffic staircase, that would mean efficient cleaning. But canister vacuums are bulky devices that take a lot of effort to haul up a stairway. They also require an outlet to work, which means having to put up with cords.
If you’re considering an upright for the staircase in your home, you may need to choose a model that comes with the necessary attachments. These include a hose of adequate length which allows you to clean every stair. If the outlet is some distance away, you would also require a model whose power cable is equally long.
These vacuums are the easiest to use on stairs. They do not come with cords or hoses, plus you can direct them towards any part of the staircase. They are light and suitable for use by almost anyone in your family- from youngsters to seniors. Because of the lightweight nature, handheld vacuums make stairway cleaning no only accessible but also fast.
Handheld vacuums used to be much less powerful when compared to cordless sticks. However, modern ones come equipped with high-capacity batteries, efficient airflow systems, and motorized brush rolls. These features make the devices impressively powerful.
It’s not unusual to find a handheld whose suction equals or exceeds that of some cordless sticks. Because different handheld vacuum brands and models come with different capabilities, you need to be cautious when selecting the one to buy. Choose a handheld that offers a decent runtime and powerful suction, among other specs.
Portable vacuum cleaners are bulky, noisy, and hard to drag around. For this reason, installing a central vacuum system could be the best decision you can make. The problem is that a central vacuum cleaner is so damn expensive. Not everyone can afford this. I’m going to make a special guide on buying central vacuums, but until then, suffice to say central vacuums are also a great option when it comes to stair cleaning.
Considerations When Choosing a Stair Vacuum
Besides selecting the vacuum type, there are various features to consider when looking to buy a stair vacuum. These are the capabilities that will make cleaning this part of your home less challenging, more comfortable, and highly effective. You want a spotless-clean stairway without using a lot of effort or taking forever to clean it. Here are the factors to take into account.
The vacuum that you choose should match the surface you intend to clean. If you have carpeted your floor, you need a powerful device that will reach deep into the fibers to remove debris. Here, suction power would be the specification to look out for. Some vacuum manufacturers indicate the level of suction achieve by their products while others don’t. In case they haven’t, the wattage of the motor can give you an idea of how powerful the vacuum is. That’s for the models that use outlets. For cordless sticks and handhelds, you can compare the battery capacity and the runtime.
Besides the suction power, some surfaces require the agitation or a spinning brush roll. If you have a carpet spread on the entire length of the stairway, strong suction is not enough. You need a motorized brush, especially if the stairway is high-traffic. Most sticks will have this feature. Choose those if you have carpeted surfaces to clean. There are other detailed features you may want to consider while at it, such as the anti-tangle capability for pet hair cleaning. Because you will most probably be using this vacuum to vacuum other areas in your home, you want it to be an all-round cleaning device.
The hard-to-reach areas will need the vacuum to have particular abilities. If using a canister vacuum, the extension hose would need to be long enough. You would also need an appliance that comes with attachments and tools to reach tight spots. These include crevice tools, which should also be long enough. Consider, therefore, the accessories that accompany the vacuum or those that you can buy separately.
Cleaning stairs cannot be compared to vacuuming flat surfaces. Besides the risers, treads, and stair noses, there’s also the hauling of lifting the appliance up or down the staircase. That means you need to choose a vacuum that allows you to use it in such an environment. In that regard, I advise you to consider the weight and size. You don’t want a vacuum that will tire you out even before you’re halfway with cleaning. Apart from the portability issue, I would recommend that you choose a model that offers excellent maneuverability.
If you have decided on an upright or stick, find a model that features a swiveling body. Because you will need to turn it a lot during vacuuming activities, a 180-degree swivel and above would be the most suitable. Choose a vacuum that rolls along smoothly, too. If the staircase is carpeted, smooth movement is a feature you can’t afford to ignore. That means assessing the casters used.
Whether a handheld, stick, canister or upright vacuum, select the one that comes with an ergonomic handle. You will not tire quickly or numb your wrists too soon into the cleaning task. Some come with a carry handle to enhance portability, and you may want to consider that when choosing your stair vacuum. For a higher level of cleaning comfort, select a model whose controls are easy to access. Some have power and other buttons on the handle, which allows you to operate different functions on the go. Foot-operated release levers and buttons also make using the cleaning device easy and comfortable.
You will have a choice of HEPA filters and standard ones. HEPA filtration allows people with allergy problems to use a vacuum without the worry of inhaling allergens. This filtration level comes at a price, though, and cleaners with HEPA filters are more expensive. Some vacuums come with washable filters that can be reused after cleaning them with water. You may choose those, and make maintaining your stair vacuum easy. HEPA filtration is advisable even if you or family member doesn’t suffer from allergies. An allergen-free air in your home is necessary, especially if you have toddlers and kids that may be affected by these particles.
Bagged or Bagless
I wrote about this subject a while ago. While the method to hold dirt doesn’t affect a vacuum’s ability to clean, it can mean a lot when it comes to maintenance. Bagged vacuums require you to purchase replacement bags. If you don’t want that expense, you may opt for the bagless types. However, you’ll need to clean their dirt bin after every usage. One of the advantages of bagged vacuums is the higher capacity. If your home is high-traffic, that should be something to think about. Bagless units do not have this advantage.
At times, vacuums with small bins subject you to frequent emptying. To avoid that, you would need to consider the capacity of the stair vacuum you intend to buy. Only go for it if the bin is large enough for the situation in your home. For a better choice, base your selection on the amount of dirt that you want to clean. If you have kids or pets, choose a vacuum whose bin is large.
Cordless or Corded?
While corded vacuums boast of high suction powers, the convenience offered by cordless models is unrivaled. When cleaning the stairs, you will agree with me that comfort is the most crucial consideration. Besides, modern cordless vacuums come with an airflow strong enough to clean even carpets. With most staircases being bare floors, a standard cordless vacuum with the necessary features and accessories would be what you need.
Corded models, whether sticks, uprights, or canister vacuums, require long cables. Most are large and heavy appliances that would make cleaning the stairway a challenge instead of a natural process. Apart from the weight and size, corded vacuums can only be used up to a distance of the cable they come with. For a lengthy stairway, that can be a significant disadvantage.
We can use cordless vacuums almost anywhere. With no cords to limit you, you can use them on any stairs in your home, even in places without an outlet. As I mentioned earlier, modern ones are powerful enough to clean also carpeted stairs. If you do not intend to use the stairway vacuum to clean other surfaces, a powerful handheld would be an excellent choice. For an all-surface stair vacuum, you would want to go for a cordless stick. Only make sure it has the features to make cleaning easy, fast, and useful.
There are other minor but essential considerations when buying a vacuum for stairs. These include the brand or vacuum manufacturer. A few companies, both new and older ones, are known for quality and durable devices that clean effectively. Choose those. Consider also the warranty offered. You want the vacuum covered for a considerable time length in case it malfunctions.
Final thoughts on choosing the best vacuum cleaner for stairs
Stairs are difficult to clean, but not when you have the right vacuum. Choosing the best vacuum for stairs requires a careful evaluation of the models on the market. Uprights and canister vacuums offer great suction but don’t score high when it comes to portability and usability on a staircase. Cordless stick vacuums and handhelds are lighter, more portable, and easier to use. They are also the most suitable for emergencies such as pet accidents and spills. The best ones come equipped with features to produce impressive results, which makes them more preferable.
When buying a cordless model to clean the stairs, consider it’s runtime and suction power. A powerful vacuum will ensure no dirt remains. It will also clean different surfaces, including carpets. Ensure, too, that the device is lightweight enough to carry in your hands or hoist from one step to another. To clean the different parts of a staircase, choose a vacuum that comes with the necessary attachments or tools. Consider also the filtration and bin capacity if it’s a bagless model. Choose HEPA filtration and a bin capacity that won’t have you detaching the dirt compartment in between tasks to discard dirt. With the right vacuum, cleaning stairs need not be an arduous task.
Before purchasing a vacuum, you will want to compare not only the price, size, and model type but also the set of accessories, the extra features (e.g., LED lights), and the materials of which it’s made of. Just because a product costs an arm and a leg does not mean it is perfect for your needs. And just because something is inexpensive does not mean it can’t meet your expectations. I would love to read your comments on my thoughts.
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I’m Jason Moe Roberts, an appliances expert and blogger. I’ve worked at Walmart for more than 15 years, in the house appliance department. I love to use home equipment and I spend a lot of time testing the best products and reviewing them. My family and friends also recommend me as a caring person, a great dad and a loving husband.