Even if you're the type of person who doesn't mind sticking to a regular cleaning schedule, there are some areas of your home that you'll always dread cleaning. And one spot in particular that's super tempting to skip over is the staircase. Since they're often highly trafficked areas, stairs can get dirty very easily—especially when you're a pet owner. That's why it's important to invest in a vacuum that works well on stairs.
There are many different types of vacuum cleaners on the market, so trying to figure out which are the best for stairs can be a bit overwhelming. To help out, we scoured thousands of customer reviews and rounded up eight models that are actually worth buying. From top-rated brands like Dyson, Shark, and Bissell, these are the best vacuums for stairs in 2021:
When shopping for vacuum cleaners for stairs, there are a few factors to consider before making your decision. Size is one of the most important things to think about, especially when you have to carry a vacuum up and down staircases. Some of the best vacuums for stairs are portable handheld models, while others are lightweight stick vacuums. Upright models are usually heavier and bulkier, but their stronger suction easily removes dirt from deep within carpets and rugs. If you want a handheld vacuum (or a stick vacuum that converts to handheld), look for one with a motorized brush head. This type of attachment rotates to help remove dust and debris that's stuck in the carpet.
Then, decide whether you want a cordless or corded vacuum. A majority of the models on this list are cordless—this eliminates the risk of tripping on wires or being limited by wall outlets, but their batteries can die quickly when used on higher settings. On the other hand, corded vacuums have the added benefit of never running low on battery since they're always plugged into a power source.
Keep reading to learn more about each of the best vacuums for stairs. Once you decide which one is best for your needs, you'll be one step closer to a cleaner home.
Dysons are often considered the gold standard when it comes to vacuum cleaners—and this cordless V11 model is the brand’s most powerful one yet. Shoppers are clearly convinced that it’s worth the hype based on its 6,500+ five-star ratings. The cordless vacuum comes with plenty of accessories, like a mini motorized head and crevice tool that help you clean hard-to-reach areas. It’s lightweight enough to make carrying it up and down long flights of stairs feel effortless. Plus, it automatically adjusts its suction strength (eco, auto, or boost) based on floor type so that you can go from the kitchen to the second-floor bedrooms without skipping a beat. The vacuum’s battery is also worth noting. It lasts up to 60 minutes on a single charge, and you can easily check how much power is left on the LCD screen. “The V11 has just enough runtime to vacuum my whole house (3,500 square feet),” wrote a customer. “This thing makes vacuuming the stairs a breeze, and I no longer have to move furniture around to get into tight spaces like between couches.”
You really can’t beat the $30 price on Bissell’s stick vacuum, which can be used in three different ways: as a traditional vacuum, hand vacuum, and a stair vacuum (a.k.a. a hybrid of the other two). Even though it’s the most affordable option on this list, the best-selling vacuum is still lightweight, easy to carry, and versatile. It doesn’t have the most powerful suction, so it works best for small cleaning jobs on hard surfaces and low-pile carpets. The vacuum has a 15-foot cord, so even though there’s a limit to how far you can get from an outlet, you’ll never have to worry about the battery dying (unlike cordless models). “This is actually lighter in weight than I anticipated, but that’s a great thing,” said one shopper. “It’s the perfect size for quick clean-ups and for cleaning my hardwood stairs. So much easier than dragging out my big full-size vacuum. I have a kitten and it picks up his hair and litter easily.”
Black+Decker makes some of Amazon’s best-selling handheld vacuums, but this particular vacuum is the most effective on stairs for two main reasons: It has double the suction power than the brand’s previous models and comes with a motorized brush that’s extremely helpful for carpeted stairs. The cordless handheld vacuum also works great for couches and cars, according to shoppers. Plus, the design has a translucent dust bin so you know exactly when it’s time to empty it. Like most vacuums, you’ll need to regularly clean the bowl and filter—but both are washable by hand. “You’ll be stunned to see how much stuff this thing will pile up against the filter,” wrote one shopper. Another added: “We have hairy dogs that shed and this vacuum is great for those quick pick-ups on the stairs and in corners where the hair collects. Love it!”
This popular Moosoo cordless vacuum also earned the top spot on our list of the best vacuums for hardwood floors. More than 11,000 shoppers gave it a perfect five-star rating, and the vacuum’s affordability and lightweight design are just two factors they love most. There are convenient LED lights on the vacuum’s head so you can see every bit of dirt and dust while you clean your staircases. It also has a high-density HEPA filter that removes up to 99.99 percent of tiny dust particles. “We needed a new vacuum because our old one did not work well on our hardwood floors, and having a dog that sheds a lot can be a bit problematic,” one shopper wrote. “It works better than any other vacuum we have had on our hardwood… It works so great along the walls as well, and [it] is so easy to use on the stairs.”
Traditional upright vacuums can be heavy and bulky, but the Shark Navigator has a detachable canister and hose that make vacuuming carpeted staircases significantly easier. Customers love that it cleans their rugs well and that it’s incredibly easy to switch between the two modes. And when it’s not being used as an upright vacuum, you can attach any of the extra accessories (like one for pet hair or tight corners) for even more versatility. There’s also a 30-foot-long cord, which one shopper appreciates because they can vacuum their “entire lower level without having to unplug and move to a new outlet.” Plus, its sealed design and HEPA filter ensure that dust and other allergens don’t get recirculated into the air as you clean. “I can easily carry it up and down the stairs with one hand,” said a reviewer. “It is a dream to use; [it] practically pushes itself.”
Living with pets often means having your home constantly covered in fur. Luckily, Bissell has an entire line of vacuum cleaners that were designed with pet owners’ needs in mind. The Pet Hair Eraser handheld vacuum comes with a motorized brush that deep-cleans the surface of stairs, an upholstery tool that’s gentle enough for furniture, and a crevice tool for all the small spaces in between. Even though it only has a 17-minute runtime, plenty of shoppers agree they’ve never had an issue with the battery dying while vacuuming stairs. And since pet hair can pile up quickly, you’ll also appreciate the large, easy-to-clean dust bin. “I have two cats and a dog so my carpeted stairs get filthy,” one customer wrote. “Seriously, this vacuum is super lightweight and [I like] having the multiple attachments clean corners and cracks, under radiators, carpeted stairs, and the couch. I felt like a kid on Christmas the first time I used it and I could not be happier. My home has not been this clean in a long time.”
Even though it’s definitely a splurge, the Samsung Jet 90 stick vacuum differs from the rest of the options on this list for one major reason: It has a telescopic pole that adjusts to four different heights between 36.6 and 45 inches. This is a game-changer for some people, especially anyone who typically experiences back pain from bending over while vacuuming. The stick vacuum comes with plenty of accessories (including a standing charging dock that doubles as storage)—but as one shopper puts it, “the attachments are just enough without having a mess of useless tools you’ll never use.” It weighs about six pounds and has a 180-degree swivel function that makes it easy to maneuver. “I’m fairly tall so I keep the tube extended out while I vacuum, and I’m able to stand straight while I use it,” wrote a reviewer. “It requires that I retract it back in to sit on the charger, but the action is smooth and solid.”
The Black+Decker Max Flex vacuum has a slightly different design than typical handheld models, but customers insist that it’s still similar in size and even more lightweight (just over three pounds). It has a four-foot flexible hose, so you can leave the vacuum’s body on the bottom of your staircase while you vacuum each step, and then simply move it up as needed. When it’s time to dust your blinds or ceiling fan, you can hold the vacuum in one hand and extend the hose to clean with the other hand. If you want to use it for bigger cleaning jobs, consider this version that comes with an attachable floor head. (Just keep in mind that the dirt bowl only holds 17 ounces of debris.) “It’s small but powerful,” one customer wrote. “I love being able to vacuum the stairs in our townhouse with this handheld unit instead of modifying the upright with a long hose.”