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 have great maneuverability. 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 115 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums for stairs. We chose these picks on their performance on different types of surfaces and also their design and price. For more options, see our lists of the best lightweight vacuums, the best cordless vacuums, and the best cordless stick vacuums.
The Samsung Jet 70 Pet is the best vacuum for stairs we've tested. This cordless stick vacuum is very lightweight, making it easy to carry around. Since it's cordless, there's no need to worry about staying close to an electrical outlet while vacuuming longer staircases. Performance on surfaces like vinyl or hardwood is exceptional, and this vacuum shouldn't have any trouble dealing with debris on low or high-pile carpeted stairs. Like most stick vacuums, you can remove its wand to use it as a handheld vacuum to clean hard-to-reach areas. It comes with an extendable crevice tool for helping clean difficult-to-reach corners, an upholstery tool with a clip-on dusting brush, and a turbo brush for dealing with messes on stairs when you use the vacuum in a handheld configuration. However, it's worth noting that this tool is somewhat bulky and attaches a little loosely.
It's also important to note that this vacuum doesn't have a telescopic wand, so you might have trouble finding an ergonomic height that works for you. If that's a deal-breaker, you could also consider the Dyson V8 Animal, a similarly-lightweight cordless stick vacuum that delivers strong performance. However, it takes much longer to recharge than the Samsung vacuum while offering similar overall battery life.
The best budget-friendly vacuum for stairs that we've tested is the Wyze Cordless Vacuum. This stick vacuum's cordless design ensures you won't trip over a power cord while climbing or descending stairs. It's also lighter than many more expensive alternatives, making it easy to carry around, though it does feel somewhat flimsy in places. You can easily reconfigure it into a handheld vacuum by removing its wand and floorhead. It delivers impressive overall performance on low and high-pile carpeted stairs and easily cleans pet hair and small debris from bare surfaces, like hardwood or vinyl stairs. It can also run for almost an hour when used as a handheld, giving you ample time to deal with debris on staircases.
While this vacuum doesn't come with a miniature turbo brush included in the box, which would make it easier to clean carpeted stairs when using it as a handheld, you can purchase this attachment from the manufacturer at an additional cost.
The Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ is among the best handheld vacuums for stairs that we've tested. This compact vacuum is very lightweight, so you shouldn't feel fatigued when carrying it 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. It comes with a miniature motorized turbo brush, which helps clean carpeted stairs, though this tool can struggle with short strands of pet hair. It also comes with a crevice tool to help better clean debris stuck in cracks. The vacuum itself feels well-built and is easy to maintain. Unfortunately, its battery life of a little over 10 minutes also forces you to work fast when dealing with stubborn messes.
Unfortunately, this vacuum doesn't have an allergen-trapping HEPA filter and does a terrible job of sealing fine particles, so it isn't a good option if you suffer from allergies. Consider the Shark ION W1 WANDVAC if that's a priority, although the ION also has a short battery life and has a tiny dirt compartment that needs frequent emptying.
The Shark Cordless Vertex Pro Powered Lift-Away is worth a look if you prefer using an upright vacuum to clean your home but want something suitable for cleaning staircases. This cordless upright vacuum is smaller and lighter than most of Shark's corded upright offerings, making it easier to pick up and carry wherever you may need it. Its 'Lift-Away' design enables you to pick up and carry its canister body independently from its floorhead and clean tight spots with its hose and selection of tools. These include a crevice tool and an upholstery tool with a clip-on hard-bristle brush for dealing with stuck-on dirt and debris. This vacuum can run for up to an hour when used in its 'Lift-Away' configuration, which is great for cleaning bigger staircases, but you do need to work a little faster when it's connected to its twin-brushroll floorhead, which drops its maximum battery life to about 40 minutes. Using it in its most powerful 'Boost' mode can drain its battery in as little as 10 minutes.
This vacuum is remarkably effective on bare surfaces and performs impressively well on low and high-pile carpets, though it's important to note that its ability to draw out debris embedded deeply within carpet fibers does drop as its dirt compartment fills up with debris. While it also feels decently sturdy overall, it can flex slightly when sweeping back and forth on floors.
If you frequently find yourself cleaning larger areas in addition to your stairs and want a corded canister model you can prop upright on a stairstep, the SEBO Airbelt D4 is among the best vacuum cleaners for stairs we've tested. This high-end canister vacuum has a very long operating range of roughly fifty feet, allowing you to clean long staircases without swapping power outlets and easily clean hard-to-reach spots. It feels very well-built, with a canister body made of dense plastic and a cloth bumper that can protect your walls from getting scuffed up. There's an onboard storage compartment for its three included tools, allowing you to access them at any time while vacuuming. This vacuum is somewhat heavy and can be a hassle to carry up and down flights of stairs.
This vacuum delivers fantastic performance on flat, even surfaces like hardwood or linoleum and is quite effective in dealing with debris on low and high-pile 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 a multitude of surfaces.
Jun 10, 2022: Substantial article restructuring to better align with user expectations. Added Samsung Jet 70 Pet as 'Best Vacuum For Stairs' pick. Added Shark Cordless Vertex Pro Powered Lift-Away as new 'Best Upright Vacuum For Stairs' category pick. Replaced Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine with SEBO Airbelt D4 as 'Best Canister Vacuum For Stairs' pick. Removed Dyson V8 Animal, Eureka Mighty Mite, and Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet from main recommendations. Removed BISSELL Featherweight Stick 2033, Shark Vertex Pro, Shark Rocket Pet Pro with MultiFlex IZ163H, Dyson Micro 1.5kg, Dyson Humdinger, and iRobot H1 from Notable Mentions.
Apr 04, 2022: Ensured all main picks are still in stock and represent the best option for user needs and expectations.
Feb 02, 2022: Replaced Dyson V15 Detect with Dyson V8 Animal as 'Best Stick Vacuum For Stairs' pick.
Dec 08, 2021: Article rework to better align with user expectations. Moved Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet from 'Best Budget Vacuum For Stairs' pick to new 'Alternative With Better Battery Performance' pick. Moved Wyze Cordless Vacuum from Notable Mentions to 'Best Budget Vacuum For Stairs' pick. Moved BISSELL Featherweight Stick 2033 from 'Cheaper Alternative' pick to Notable Mentions. Added Eureka Mighty Mite to main picks as new 'Corded Alternative' pick.
Oct 12, 2021: Replaced HoLife HM036E with Black+Decker dustbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet as 'Best Budget Vacuum For Stairs' pick due to current availability. Added Shark Vertex Pro, Dyson Micro 1.5kg, Dyson Humdinger, Wyze Cordless Vacuum, and Miele Classic C1 to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best vacuums for stairs. We don't just base our results on overall performance, but also 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.