Best Vacuums for Stairs in 2021

By Jeneva Aaron Updated November 22, 2021

Clean stairs never looked so easy.

Best Vacuums for Stairs in 2021

Stairs are hard to clean, especially with bulky vacuums not suited for tight corners and narrow steps. And you find yourself wanting to skip vacuuming difficult stairs week after week. We get it, we’ve been there!

Thankfully, there are vacuums that make cleaning the stairs easy. They feature lightweight bodies, stair attachments, and maneuverable or cordless designs.

We’ve found seven of the best vacuum options for stairs to make this difficult job so much easier.

Our Top Picks

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Best Vacuums for Stairs of 2021 
Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, BlueBest Overall

Dyson V11 Torque Drive

Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, Blue

  • Intelligent Cleaning Modes.

  • LCD screen.

  • Powerful.

BISSELL Zing Lightweight, Bagless Canister Vacuum, 2156ABest Budget

Bissell Zing Canister

BISSELL Zing Lightweight, Bagless Canister Vacuum, 2156A

  • Strong Suction.

  • Easy to Move.

  • Easy Empty Canister.

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Flex Cordless Stick Vacuum with Floor Head and Pet Hair Brush (BDH2020FLFH)Best Handheld

BLACK+DECKER 20V

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Flex Cordless Stick Vacuum with Floor Head and Pet Hair Brush (BDH2020FLFH)

  • Lightweight.

  • Powerful

  • Convenient Charging Base.

Womow Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, 25Kpa 400W Digital Motor Powerful Stick Vacuum, Rechargeable Battery Powered Pet Hair Vacuum, Portable 2 in 1 Handheld Vacuum Cleaner for Hard Floor Stairs Car, W20Best Cordless

W20 cordless stick vacuum

Womow Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, 25Kpa 400W Digital Motor Powerful Stick Vacuum, Rechargeable Battery Powered Pet Hair Vacuum, Portable 2 in 1 Handheld Vacuum Cleaner for Hard Floor Stairs Car, W20

  • Clean Large Particles.

  • Detachable Battery

  • Great Customer Service.

Eureka EasyClean Lightweight Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, Hand Vac Corded, 71B, EasyClean-YellowBest for Carpeted Stairs

Eureka EasyClean Hand Vac

Eureka EasyClean Lightweight Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, Hand Vac Corded, 71B, EasyClean-Yellow

  • Riser Visor System.

  • Clear Debris Canister

  • Extra Long Cord.

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium Ion Cordless Hand Vacuum, PurpleBest for Pet Hair

BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium Ion Cordless Hand Vacuum, Purple

  • Powerful Motorized Brush.

  • Easy Grab and Go.

  • Sturdy Design.

BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld Vacuum for Pets, Cordless, AdvancedClean+, Gray (HHVK515JP07)Best Lightweight

BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster

BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld Vacuum for Pets, Cordless, AdvancedClean+, Gray (HHVK515JP07)

  • Rubber Bristles.

  • Easy Storage.

  • Battery Indicator.

Do I Need a Special Vacuum for Cleaning Stairs?

Technically speaking, no.

Vacuuming stairs means getting to hard to reach corners, moving up and down many steps, and cleaning dozens of nooks and crannies in a high traffic area. Any vacuum can clean stairs, but a normal vacuum cleaner can be a pain to use.

Thankfully, there are vacuum cleaners that have been built with stairs in mind and make cleaning those carpeted areas a breeze. Vacuums built for stairs tend to have these three features in common:

  • Lightweight. You will need to carry this up and down stairs so it can’t be too heavy. This is why a cordless handheld vacuum or a lightweight stick vacuum are great options. But if you want a little more cleaning power, an upright vacuum can provide powerful suction. Just keep in mind that they’re bulkier and heavier.
  • A motorized brush head. This brush attachment rotates to remove embedded dust and debris, like pet hair or food crumbs.
  • Cordless vacuum models. A cordless vacuum allows for more maneuverability to clean hard to reach areas. Plus you never have to worry about tripping over a cord again. This flexibility makes it one of the best types of vacuum cleaners for stairs.

How to Choose the Best Vacuums for Cleaning Stairs

We’ve created a list of the important features to keep in mind when looking for the perfect vacuum for your stairs.

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Types

There are many different types of vacuum cleaners on the market which can be confusing when you’re shopping. Depending on your stairs and vacuuming needs, any of these types could be the right one.

Upright Vacuum Cleaners

An upright vacuum cleaner has three parts: a cleaning head, a handle, and a bag or canister. With everything built right in, upright vacuum cleaners tend to be heavier and risk tipping on stairs.

The benefit is that they come with a rotating brush roll or beater bars. They usually provide more suction to remove dirt, pet hair, or food crumbs in your carpeted stairs areas.

If this peaks your interest, find one that is well-designed and lightweight with a long cord like the Shark NV752.

Stick Vacuum Cleaners

A stick vacuum cleaner will, as the name suggests, have a tall body and handle along with a powerhead. These vacuum cleaners are lightweight and offer convenient and efficient cleaning with minimal bending over.

Many stick vacuums are also battery-operated. Some cordless stick vacuums even convert into handheld vacuums.

If this versatile and lightweight vacuum cleaner interests you, check out the Dyson V8 Animal Stick Vacuum.

Handheld Vacuum Cleaners

Handheld vacuums can quickly and easily pick up small messes or get to those hard to reach corners.

They are lightweight and convenient, but you need to bend down to use one and it may not always be very powerful.

If you want the ease of a handheld vacuum, try to find one with high capacity batteries, a motorized brush roll, and a powerful airflow system like this Black&Decker model.

Canister Vacuum Cleaners

Canister vacuums consist of the canister (with motor and filter), the hose, and a wand. While this is not the most common vacuum cleaner used for stairs, they are efficient and can clean well.

To avoid carrying a heavy canister up and down the stairs, we recommend finding one with a long wand hose like the Bissell Zing.

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Bagged or Bagless

Corded vacuums have one distinct advantage over cordless vacuums. You never run out of power, which is nice if you have a larger home.

But, they can be difficult to use with stairs because you may need to move the plug several times and the cord will trail after you as a tripping hazard. That’s not to say it isn’t possible.

Corded vacuums with long, retractable cords can work well for your home and efficiently clean your stairs. Fifteen feet is usually long enough to reach the top of most staircases.

On the other hand, cordless vacuums have the advantage of convenience. Cordless vacuum designs are usually lightweight so you can carry a cordless vacuum anywhere in your house and simply clean without needing to find a plug.

The downside is that they have a limited battery life. Some vacuums only have a run time of seven minutes. But the best cordless vacuum cleaners can run for forty minutes or more on a high-voltage lithium battery.

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Weight

Since you will be taking the vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs while you clean, the weight of the model is very important. Heavy vacuum cleaners can be exhausting to haul up and down. Or worse, they can pose a falling risk.

Cordless or handhelds tend to be much lighter, which makes them more suitable for stairs than an upright or canister vacuum cleaner. For example, the cordless stick Eureka RapidClean Pro Vacuum only weighs 5.26 pounds while this upright vacuum Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Vacuum is almost 16 pounds.

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Suction Power

Suction is important for stairs since you’ll need to clean corners, between railings, and the actual steps itself. All of these can be hard to reach easily and the extra suction will help get any dirt or pet hair off.

Suction power can be measured in many ways since there is no standard across the industry. While many list the amp, RPM, or Pa rating, these units measure the motor or pressure and don’t actually give a good indication of suction power.

Some list suction in cubic feet per minute (CFM) which measures the force of the air flow that is sucking up dirt into the bag or canister. Better vacuums have a higher CFM rating, but also tend to be more expensive.

Airwatts (AW) is another type of measurement but is used mostly by Dyson like in this Womow, which has a 120AW rating. While AW and CFM don’t directly compare, finding a vacuum with a higher rating for either will help you suction more off your stairs.

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Attachments

Almost all vacuum cleaners offer multiple attachments to increase your vacuum’s capabilities. While handy, make sure to know exactly what attachments you need so you don’t end up paying for extras you’ll never use.

  • Crevice Tool: A crevice tool attachment is narrow and pointed which helps you clean corners and between railings
  • Brush Attachment: The brush attachment pulls up dust and debris stuck in carpeted areas.
  • Pet Hair Brush: A pet hair brush is designed to pick up, you guessed it, pet hair, which is great for pet owners.
  • Hard Floor Attachment: If you need attachments for non-carpeted or hardwood floors, look for wide and flat attachments with short bristles to clean without scratching smooth surfaces.
  • Dust Brush: For dusting furniture, blinds, lampshades, or other similar objects, try a dust brush.

The Best Vacuums for Stairs of 2021

Now that you know some of the key features to consider when looking for a vacuum, you’re ready to find one that suits your needs. We have carefully researched the best vacuums for stairs by using expert advice, customer reviews, and our own experience.

1. Dyson V11 Torque Drive

Nothing is worse than stopping halfway through vacuuming to recharge a battery. The Dyson V11 Torque Drive has 60 minutes of run time yet is light enough to easily climb stairs.

With great battery life and twice the suction power of most cordless vacuums, the V11 Torque Drive is engineered for whole home, deep cleaning.

Plus, when you need to clean smaller areas, the V11 Torque Drive can convert to a cordless handheld vacuum to clean the nooks and crannies of your stairs.

What We Like

Intelligent Cleaning Modes
The V11 Torque has three power modes to choose from: eco, auto, and boost. Eco is the most efficient and has the longest run time. Auto allows you to automatically adjust the cleaning power when changing floor types.

Boost gives that extra bit of deep clean power for a shorter, but very powerful vacuuming stairs experience.

LCD screen
The LCD screen provides a variety of information at your fingertips, including available battery life, current mode, and maintenance alerts. You never have to wonder what is happening with your vacuum again.

Powerful Even in Handheld
Customers loved that no power was lost when transforming it to a handheld. The same power that can clean your carpets thoroughly can give you deep cleaned stairs without needing to lug the entire vacuum around.

What We Don’t Like

Difficult to Use a Second Battery
Some customers hoped to increase the long battery life with use of a second battery. That won’t work with this vacuum. Replacing a battery involves removing screws to get to the correct part.

Additional Specs

Type Cordless Stick
Weight 6.6 lbs
Bin Volume 3.15 oz
Surface Type Barefloors, Carpet and Rugs, Pet Beds, Upholstery and Fabric
Included Accessories Combination tool, Crevice tool , Mini motorized tool, Stiff bristle brush, Mini soft dusting brush, Wand storage clip

2. Bissell Zing Canister Vacuum

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get your stairs cleaned well. This Bissell Zing is an excellent vacuum for stairs at a reasonable price.

It comes with powerful filters that help capture fine dust and particles that tend to collect between railings or in stair crevices. And its dirt cup can hold 2 entire liters before needing to be emptied.

With a 15 foot cord, you can fully vacuum most staircases without needing to move the plug. Plus, you can vacuum without stopping between different surfaces by flipping a switch.

Related Reading: The Best Affordable Vacuums in 2021

What We Like

Strong Suction
The feature customers loved the most on this vacuum is the powerful suction. It is perfect for picking up larger debris without getting stuck.

Easy to Move
This little vacuum comes with two large wheels on the canister which makes it easy to use anywhere in your home. It is lightweight so whether pulling or picking up, you can get it where it needs to go.

Easy Empty Canister
Never again will you need to struggle to get the bag off your vacuum with this easy to remove canister. Simply pick up the canister, press a button, and the bottom pops off to empty into the trash. Customers said it was as easy as carrying a coffee cup.

What We Don’t Like

Short Hose
The hose for this canister vacuum is on the shorter side so taller people may have to bend to clean floors. The Bissell Zing does come with wand attachments to lengthen the hose and help alleviate bending.

Additional Specs

Type Canister
Weight 10.23 lbs
Bin Volume 2 liters
Surface Type Barefloors, Carpet and Rugs
Included Accessories Crevice Tool, Dusting Brush, Multi-Surface Floor Tool

3. BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Flex Cordless Stick Vacuum

Do you find yourself staring at the dirt and pet hair in the corners of your stairs? The Black&Decker 20V Max Flex can clean that in seconds.

The 20V Max Flex is cordless and compact, which makes it extremely portable and perfect for easily cleaning stairs. And if you attach the stick vacuum wand, you can also clean floors and ceilings.

This vacuum also offers a pet brush, specifically created to pull up stubborn pet hair quickly and easily from carpeted stairs or upholstery.

What We Like

Lightweight
The 20V Max Flex weighs less than four pounds, making it easy to traverse stairs or other parts of your home with it in tow.

Powerful
With a 20 volt lithium ion battery, customers have loved the power packed into such a small package. Able to maintain consistent and powerful suction, this vacuum can clean messes of all sizes without getting clogged.

Convenient Charging Base
To charge this powerful machine, you simply set it on the charging base. No plugging in messy cords. With spots for all your attachments as well, the charging base keeps everything neat.

What We Don’t Like

Small Capacity Dirt Bowl
The dirt bowl collects only 17 oz. Many customers noted that they had to empty it during usage or after each use.

Additional Specs

Type Stick/handheld
Weight 3.2 lbs
Bin Volume 17 oz
Surface Type Auto and Garage, Barefloors, Carpet and Rugs, Pet Beds, Upholstery and Fabric
Included Accessories Stick Vac Floor Head, Pet Hair Brush, 2-in-1 Nozzle / Brush Tool, Long Crevice Tool, Washable Filter

4. Womow W20 Cordless Stick Vacuum

You won’t need to worry about tripping over a cord with the Womow W20 Cordless Stick Vacuum.

Unlike many other cordless units, this Womow remains lightweight (under 6 lbs!) so you can easily take it up and down stairs. Need even more portability? It converts to a handheld vacuum so you can take it anywhere.

Plus, it is ultra quiet so you can use it around children or pets without worry. And when you’re done, there’s a convenient wall mount for easy storage and charging.

Finally, thanks to its hepa filter, it traps 99,97% of the tiny particles. This makes it a good option if you suffer from allergies.

What We Like

Can Clean Large Particles Easily
The Womow W20 has a 120AW suction rating allowing it to pick up large particles without clogging. Whether your stairs have dirt, large amounts of pet hair, or even debris as big as dog food, this powerful vacuum can clean it all.

Detachable Battery
The battery pack on the Womow W20 is easy to detach. If you want to double your run time, you can easily purchase a second battery and swap it out in seconds. You can clean your stairs and the rest of your home easily in one go this way.

Great Customer Service
No matter the issue, customers raved about the helpful and efficient customer service they received from Womow.

What We Don’t Like

For Hard Floors Or Light Carpet Only
The Womow W20 is made for hard floors or light carpets. While it can still vacuum thicker carpets, customers noticed it was difficult to push and they had to go over the area repeatedly. For the best results on thick carpets, you should use the high power mode, which drains the battery faster.

Additional Specs

Type Stick/handheld
Weight 5.72 lbs
Bin Volume 0.6 liters
Surface Type Auto and Garage, Barefloors, Light Carpet and Rugs, Upholstery and Fabric
Included Accessories Crevice Nozzle, 2-in-1 Bristle Brush, Charging Dock, Extra Sponge HEPA Filter, Cleaning Tool

5. Eureka EasyClean Lightweight Handheld Vacuum

The Eureka EasyClean is perfect for carpeted stairs thanks to it’s lightweight and powerful design. This vacuum actually has two separate motors, one for suction and one for the brush bar, to give you the most power while cleaning. Yet it still weighs less than 5 pounds so it can easily be carried up and down stairs.

The Eureka EasyClean also has an integrated hose that can detach from the bristle brush to provide better reach into corners and other tight spaces. With the additional crevice tool, you can clean between railings with ease.

Read Next: The 7 Best Vacuums for Carpets in 2021

What We Like

Riser Visor System
The Eureka EasyClean features the Riser Visor System, which is specifically designed for stairs. By flipping down the Riser Visor that covers the bristle bar, you can clean your stair risers with the same power you use on the steps.

Clear Debris Canister
The debris canister on the Eureka EasyClean is made of sturdy clear plastic and sits on the nose of the vacuum. Customers loved being able to tell exactly when it needed to be emptied and just how much they were getting off their stairs.

Extra Long Cord
The cord on the Eureka EasyClean is 20 feet. Most staircases, even extra long ones, can be cleaned without once needing to move the plug. Plus, the cord wraps easily around the vacuum to store.

What We Don’t Like

Can’t Clean Whole Home
This vacuum is powerful but isn’t made to clean an entire house. While it’s great for cleaning a staircase, customers noted that it shouldn’t be used to try to clean large carpeted areas without having long breaks every ten minutes to avoid burning up the motor.

Additional Specs

Type Handheld
Weight 4.85 lbs
Bin Volume Not Listed
Surface Type Auto and Garage, Barefloors, Small Carpet and Rugs, Upholstery and Fabric
Included Accessories Crevice Tool

6. BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Hand Vacuum

You love your pets, but their hair can easily get everywhere, including your stairs. The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is designed to clean stubborn pet hair and is light enough to take on the stairs.

You can easily see how much you’ve already sucked up in the clear dirt canister. With a triple level filtration system, you make sure that all the debris stays in the canister.

Plus, it has a 14V lithium ion battery which will give you thirty minutes or more of power. That should be plenty of time to clean an entire staircase and then some.

What We Like

Powerful Motorized Brush
Customers’ most loved attachment is the motorized brush. While pet hair can get ground into your carpeted stairs as it is walked on everyday, this brush can easily pull up deeply lodged pet hair without a problem.

Easy Grab and Go
This little vacuum weighs only 3 lbs and has a well-balanced handle. Whether you’re ready to do a full deep clean of your stairs or smaller cleaning tasks, this vacuum is perfect to just grab and go.

Sturdy Design
The materials used in the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser are high quality and very durable. Many customers came back to update reviews to state that the vacuum still worked powerfully after months or years of use.

What We Don’t Like

Long Charge Time
Many customers dislike the long charge time of the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser. It can take upwards of 6-8 hours to reach a max charge.

Additional Specs

Type Handheld
Weight 3 lbs
Bin Volume 0.7 liters
Surface Type Auto and Garage, Barefloors, Light Carpet and Rugs, Stairs, Upholstery and Fabric
Included Accessories Crevice Tool, Motorized Brush Tool, Upholstery Tool

7. BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld Vacuum

The Black&Decker Dustbuster weighs only 2.6 lbs, making this one the lightest vacuums on the market. You can easily climb stairs with this vacuum.

And stairs are often high traffic areas, meaning dirt and debris can become deeply lodged quickly. That’s no problem for the Dustbuster. It has a powerboost mode to get stubborn debris up easily.

The Dustbuster also has an XL dustbin to collect more before emptying. And speaking of emptying, you just need to push a button and the canister opens for a hands-free process.

Read Next: The 6 Best Lightweight Vacuum Cleaners in 2021

What We Like

Rubber Bristles
The motorized pet brush has rubber bristles, allowing it to pull up more pet hair and dirt from high traffic areas like staircases. The rubber bristles are also anti-tangle, making sure your brush can continue working smoothly no matter what.

Easy Storage
The Dustbuster is lightweight and compact so it can easily be stored in small spaces. It can also stand upright on its own, allowing it to fit in closets without cluttering the floor.

Battery Indicator
Never wonder if your battery is about to die with the built-in battery indicator light. Depending on your staircase size, you can clean your staircases up to two or three times on one charge. With this battery indicator, you don’t need to charge needlessly or be caught with a dead battery.

What We Don’t Like

No Hard Floor Attachment
This vacuum works great on carpeted stairs, but doesn’t have an attachment that works well on hard floors. While you can still use it, the Dustbuster won’t clean it very well. Customers especially had trouble with the rubber bristles on the motorized brush on hard floors.

Additional Specs

Type Handheld
Weight 2.6 lbs
Bin Volume Not Listed
Surface Type Auto and Garage, Barefloors, Carpet and Rugs, Pet Beds, Upholstery and Fabric
Included Accessories Extra Long Crevice Tool, Motorized Pet Brush

Stair Vacuums Comparison Chart

ProductTypeWeightBin VolumeSurface Type
Dyson V11 Torque DriveCordless Stick6.6 lbs3.15 ozBarefloors, Carpet and Rugs, Pet Beds, Upholstery and Fabric
Bissell Zing Canister VacuumCanister 10.23 lbs2 litersBarefloors, Carpet and Rugs
BLACK+DECKER Cordless Stick VacuumStick/handheld3.2 lbs17 ozAuto and Garage, Barefloors, Carpet and Rugs, Pet Beds
Upholstery and Fabric
W20 cordless stick vacuumStick/handheld5.72 lbs0.6 litersAuto and Garage,
Barefloors, Light Carpet and Rugs, Upholstery and Fabric
Eureka EasyClean Handheld VacuumHandheld4.85 lbsNot ListedAuto and Garage,
Barefloors, Small Carpet and Rugs, Upholstery and Fabric
BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser VacuumHandheld3 lbs0.7 litersAuto and Garage,
Barefloors, Light Carpet and Rugs, Stairs, Upholstery and Fabric
BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld VacuumHandheld2.6 lbsNot ListedAuto and Garage, Barefloors, Carpet and Rugs, Pet Beds, Upholstery and Fabric
Jump to the Full Stair Vacuums Reviews

FAQs About Stair Vacuums

Have questions that haven’t been answered yet? Check out our FAQs to learn more.

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How Do You Vacuum Carpeted Stairs?

  1. Gather the right equipment including a vacuum cleaner and any specific attachments.
  2. Remove any large pieces of debris that could get clogged in the vacuum.
  3. Clean the edges and tight corners of the stairs. A crevice tool is very helpful for this step. Remove the crevice tool when done.
  4. Go to the top of the stairs to start cleaning the treads and risers. This will let any debris fall down, which will eventually be cleaned in this process.
  5. Move your vacuum back and forth on the treads (the part of the stair you step on).
  6. Use an attachment or move your vacuum to clean the riser (the vertical part between treads).
  7. Move down the stairs carefully, cleaning each riser and tread as you go until finished.
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Is There a Robot Vacuum for Stairs?

Not yet. Robot vacuums on the market aren’t designed to climb stairs and can fall if attempted. Many models warn the owners when it even comes near stairs.

But there’s hope. Dyson has patented a robot vacuum design that could climb stairs (1). Just nothing has been released yet.

Clean From Top to Bottom

Cleaning stairs can be a chore if you use the wrong vacuum. Many are the wrong size or have short cords and hoses.

But with a vacuum for stairs, you’ll be able to clean without hauling around a heavy vacuum or stopping to move a plug.

When you’re ready to purchase, remember to think about the type, cord vs cordless, the weight, the suction power, and the attachments to find the right vacuum for your home.

Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments and share it with friends and families. They might be looking for a solution to vacuuming the stairs as well!

Jeneva Aaron

About the Author

Jeneva Aaron

Jeneva has over years of passion for home decorating and cleaning. She is the founder and CEO of thehousewire.com where she provides honest and objective reviews on home and cleaning products.

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