Stairs can be hard to clean if your vacuum has a bulky design or a short power cord or hose, as these design elements impact your ability to efficiently clean tight, narrow spaces. If you're cleaning a staircase, an ideal vacuum should be lightweight, easily portable, and maneuverable. It should also be able to get into tight corners and have a long enough range to reach the top or bottom of your staircase.
We've tested over 130 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums for stairs. We chose these picks based on their performance on different types of surfaces, designs, and prices. For more options, see our lists of the best lightweight vacuums, the best cordless vacuums, and the best cordless stick vacuums.
The best vacuum for stairs we've tested is the Dyson V12 Detect Slim. At under five and a half pounds, this cordless stick vacuum is lighter than most full-size stick vacuums, making it a cinch to carry up and down long flights of stairs, and you can quickly convert it into a handheld configuration to better clean tight spots. It's well-suited to cleaning various floor types, as it comes with a soft roller for better debris pickup on bare surfaces like vinyl or hardwood and a multi-surface floorhead that you can use on carpeted stairs. Like the pricier, heavier Dyson V15 Detect, its soft roller has a built-in laser light to help you see fine debris on hard surfaces, and the vacuum can automatically increase its suction power on carpets or when it encounters an area with a large concentration of debris.
However, the flip side of this vacuum's compact design is its tiny dustbin, which needs regular emptying. If that's a concern, the Samsung Jet 90 Complete is a great comparably-priced alternative that delivers broadly similar debris pickup performance and has a dustbin about three times as large. It's heavier than the Dyson and lacks its automatic power adjustment feature.
Check out the Samsung Jet 75 if you want something less expensive for cleaning stairs. This cordless stick vacuum lacks the automatic power adjustment system found on the Dyson V12 Detect Slim. However, it's also cheaper and only slightly heavier, so it's still pretty easy to carry up and down flights of stairs. It shares the same powerful 200W suction motor as the pricier Samsung Jet 90 Complete, resulting in strong debris pickup on various surface types and making it one of the best vacuums for carpeted stairs we've tested. All models come with a crevice tool and a combination soft bristle brush/upholstery tool, but unfortunately, the Complete variant doesn't come with a miniature turbo brush attachment, which would make it easier to clean carpeted stairs when the vacuum is used in its handheld configuration.
However, the Complete model comes with two batteries, each providing up to 60 minutes of runtime, giving you plenty of time to clean larger staircases without fear of running out of power. Unfortunately, unlike the similarly-designed Jet 90, it has a fixed-length wand instead of a telescopic one, so you can't adjust its length to match your ergonomic preferences.
If you're looking to spend less on a vacuum for cleaning stairs, the Samsung Jet 60 is among the best vacuums for stairs we've tested. Unsurprisingly, it's very similar in design to the Samsung Jet 75, with the same high-capacity dustbin and five-stage filtration system. That said, the two vacuums are a little different once you start digging beneath the surface. Compared to the Jet 75's potent 200W motor, the Jet 60 is fitted with a slightly less powerful 150W suction motor, resulting in inferior deep-cleaning performance. The Jet 60 standard Jet Fit floorhead is also less effective on bare floors than the Jet 75's Turbo Action head, though both vacuums are fully compatible with one another's attachments.
It also uses a smaller capacity 1.8 Ah battery, compared to the Jet 75's larger 2.85 Ah unit, resulting in a shorter max battery life of about 40 minutes. That said, it's still a fantastic option for cleaning staircases. At under five and a half pounds in its stick configuration, it's impressively lightweight and still cleans debris from most surface types. The Pet variant of this vacuum also comes with a relatively broad assortment of attachments for a vacuum in this price range. This includes an extendable crevice tool for helping reach tight corners, an upholstery tool with a clip-on dusting brush, and a miniature turbo brush.
However, like the Jet 75, this vacuum doesn't have a telescopic wand, so you might have trouble finding a height that works for you. If you want a similarly-priced vacuum with a telescopic wand and a longer battery life, the Tineco PURE ONE X is a solid choice that can run for about 70 minutes. However, unlike the Samsung vacuum, its battery isn't removable or replaceable.
If you're on a budget, the JASHEN V16 is a fantastic option for vacuuming stairs. While it doesn't feel as sturdy as pricier alternatives like the Samsung Jet 60, this stick vacuum is a fantastic choice if portability and performance are your top priorities. Its cordless design ensures you won't trip over a power cord while climbing or descending stairs, and at just under six pounds, it's almost as portable as the much pricier models on this list. While it might struggle somewhat with very heavy or bulky debris, it can easily clear away dust and pet hair on most surface types. It comes with various attachments, including a pair of interchangeable rollers for bare floors and carpeting and a miniature turbo brush to facilitate cleaning stairs when used in its handheld configuration.
Its max battery life of about 40 minutes is on the shorter end of the scale, and if you're looking for an alternative that does better in this respect, the Wyze Cordless Vacuum is a very good option. It comes with fewer attachments than the JASHEN, and replacement parts like new filters and batteries are currently rather hard to come by.
If you don't need a full-size cordless vacuum like the JASHEN V16 to clean your staircases, the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ is a great choice. It's very lightweight, making it a cinch to carry up and down stairs. Its cordless design also ensures you don't need to worry about staying close to an electrical outlet while cleaning longer staircases. However, it's only meant for short clean-ups, as its battery runs dry in only a bit over 10 minutes. It comes with a crevice tool to help better clean debris stuck in cracks and a miniature motorized turbo brush, though it's worth noting that this tool can struggle with short strands of pet hair.
Unfortunately, this vacuum does a terrible job of sealing fine particles, so it isn't a good option if you suffer from allergies. Consider the Shark WANDVAC if that's a priority, although the Shark also has a short battery life and a tiny dirt compartment that needs frequent emptying.
If you frequently find yourself cleaning larger areas besides your stairs and want a corded canister model you can prop upright, the SEBO Airbelt D4 is among the best vacuum cleaners for stairs we've tested. It's a bulky, heavy machine and less portable than a cordless stick vacuum like the Dyson V12 Detect Slim. That said, you also won't have to worry about running out of charge part way through a cleaning session. Besides, this vacuum has a long operating range of roughly 50 feet, allowing you to clean long staircases without swapping power outlets or easily clean hard-to-reach spots.
It feels incredibly sturdy, with a canister body made of dense plastic and a cloth bumper running along the outside of its body that can protect your walls from getting scuffed up. There's an onboard storage compartment for its three included tools, so you can grab or stow them away without interrupting your cleaning session.
Performance on flat, even surfaces like hardwood or linoleum is exceptional, and the vacuum is quite effective in dealing with debris on carpeted stairs, even with a fairly basic straight-suction floorhead. You can easily change its suction power via a handle-mounted rocker switch, allowing you to adapt to different surfaces. Unfortunately, it's heavy and rather bulky. Looking for something smaller, lighter, and cheaper? The Miele Classic C1 is worth a look, even if it does have a much shorter range.
May 19, 2023: Replaced Wyze Cordless Vacuum with JASHEN V16 as 'Best Budget Vacuum For Stairs' pick.
Mar 24, 2023: Verified that all main picks still represent the best option for user needs.
Jan 24, 2023: Replaced Roborock H7 with Samsung Jet 75 as 'Best Upper Mid-Range Vacuum For Stairs' pick.
Nov 25, 2022: Ensured all main picks are still available and represent the best choice for user needs.
Sep 28, 2022: Major overhaul of the main article to better reflect user priorities and current product market. Removed less relevant Notable Mentions picks, and added Samsung Jet 70 Pet and Airsign HEPA Vacuum to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best vacuums for cleaning stairs. We don't just base our results on overall performance, but also on factors like availability, price, and reader feedback.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our vacuum reviews, ranked by their performance on stairs. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no vacuum is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.