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 130 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums for cleaning 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 best vacuum for stairs we've tested is the Dyson V12 Detect Slim. This cordless stick vacuum is lighter than most other full-size stick vacuums, making it a cinch to carry up and down long flights of stairs. Like other Dyson stick vacuums, you can quickly convert it into a handheld configuration to better clean tight spots. It's well-suited to cleaning a variety of 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 carpeting. 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, this vacuum's dustbin is very small, forcing you to empty it regularly. 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. That said, it's heavier than the Dyson and lacks its automatic power adjustment feature.
Check out the Samsung Jet 75 if you want something a little 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 marginally heavier, so it's a cinch to carry up and down flights of stairs. It shares the same powerful 200W suction motor as the pricier Samsung Jet 90 Complete, enabling it to easily clear away debris from a myriad of 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 the Jet 75 Pet, Turbo, and Complete variants don'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.
The Jet 75 Complete model, which sits near the middle of the product range, comes with two batteries, each of which provide up to 60 minutes of runtime, giving you plenty of time to clean larger staircases. Unfortunately, and unlike the similarly-designed Jet 90, it has a fixed-length wand as opposed to a telescopic one, so you can't adjust its length to match your own ergonomic preferences.
If you're looking to spend less on a vacuum for cleaning stairs, check out the Samsung Jet 60. Unsurprisingly, it's very similar in design to the Samsung Jet 75, with the same high-capacity dustbin and five-stage filtration system. There are a few differences, aside from its cheaper price tag. It's equipped with a slightly less potent 150W suction motor, resulting in inferior deep-cleaning performance, and comes as standard with Samsung's slightly less effective Jet Fit floorhead. It also uses a smaller capacity 1.8 Ah battery, in comparison to the Jet 75's larger 2.85 Ah unit - this results 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 it delivers strong performance.
It also has a relatively broad assortment of attachments for a vacuum in this price range. These include an extendable crevice tool for helping reach tight corners, an upholstery tool with a clip-on dusting brush, and a miniature turbo brush. However, 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 a maximum of about 70 minutes. However, unlike the Samsung vacuum, its battery isn't removable or replaceable.
If you're on a budget, the Wyze Cordless Vacuum 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, while its lightweight plastic construction makes it easy to carry around. 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 run for almost an hour when used as a handheld, giving you ample time to deal with debris on staircases. Even though this vacuum doesn't come with a miniature turbo brush to facilitate cleaning carpeted stairs when using it as a handheld, you can purchase this attachment from the manufacturer at an additional cost.
If you don't need a full-size cordless vacuum like the Wyze Cordless Vacuum to clean your staircases, the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ is a great choice. It's very lightweight, making it a cinch to carry 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, though you will still need to work quickly as it has a battery life of little over 10 minutes. It comes with a crevice tool to help better clean debris stuck in cracks as well as 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 in addition to 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 isn't nearly as portable as a cordless stick vacuum like the Dyson V12 Detect Slim, but you also won't have to worry about running out of charge part way through a cleaning session. Besides, this vacuum has a very long operating range of roughly 50 feet, allowing you to clean long staircases without swapping power outlets and 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, allowing you to access them while vacuuming.
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.
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.
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.
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.