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10 Best Vacuums for Stairs in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks

vacuum stairs

vacuum stairs

The stairs are one of the hardest areas of the home to vacuum. They’re too shallow for most upright vacuums to fit and, for now at least, robot vacuums are completely out of the question. This means that the ideal vacuum for this area is one that is lightweight enough to carry up and down and has a smaller head attachment that can be used on the backs and the main platform sections of the stairs.

A cordless option can be beneficial because it negates the need to stretch a wire or have to change sockets halfway through the process. Handheld vacuums are potentially great for stairs but don’t really have too many other potential uses.

Below, you will find reviews of 10 of the best vacuums for stairs, taking these factors into consideration and also looking at price and suction power.

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A Quick Glance at Our Favorites of 2022

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Shark Vertex Pro Powered Cordless Vacuum Shark Vertex Pro Powered Cordless Vacuum
  • Lightweight vacuum that can convert to a stick for mobility
  • Cordless vacuum means you aren’t tethered to the power outlets
  • IQ display shows runtime and cleaning performance
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Bissell Featherweight Stick Bagless Vacuum Bissell Featherweight Stick Bagless Vacuum
  • Very light design
  • Converts from an upright to a handheld
  • Really cheap
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Dyson V11 Cordless Handheld Vacuum Dyson V11 Cordless Handheld Vacuum
  • Powerful suction is effective
  • Automatically detects and adjusts to the surface type
  • 60-minute runtime on a full charge
  • Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum
  • Good suction power
  • Converts from a stick to a handheld
  • Cordless cleaner makes it easy to move around
  • Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Hand Vacuum Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Hand Vacuum
  • Lightweight handheld cleaner only weighs 3 pounds
  • Cheap price
  • Motorized head is good for eliminating pet hair
  • The 10 Best Vacuums for Stairs

    1. Shark Vertex Pro Powered Cordless Vacuum – Best Overall

    Shark Vertex Pro Powered Lift-Away Cordless Vacuum

    Vacuum type Upright
    Weight 12.4 pounds
    Corded/Cordless Cordless

    The Shark Vertex Pro Powered Lift-Away Cordless Vacuum is cordless, which means that you aren’t restricted by power cord length and outlet distance. It is also relatively light and, while it is in an upright vacuum, it has a compact lightweight design that means it is possible to use on stairs. You can also use the powered lift-away system to remove the pod, leaving you with a stick vacuum that allows easy access to the stairs.

    The Shark Vertex Pro is about average in terms of price, but it offers up to 60 minutes of runtime from a single charge, and it has the IQ display which shows the amount of runtime left and a display on suction performance which can prove a good indicator of when the cleaner needs emptying. As well as being lightweight, compact, and convenient, the vacuum has a HEPA filter and reasonable suction power, making it the best available vacuum for stairs. However, it is a little lacking in power when it comes to trying to tackle pet hair.

    Pros
    • Lightweight vacuum that can convert to a stick for mobility
    • Cordless vacuum means you aren’t tethered to the power outlets
    • IQ display shows runtime and cleaning performance
    Cons
    • Not great at tackling pet hairs

    2. Bissell Featherweight Stick Bagless Vacuum – Best Value

    Bissell Featherweight Stick Lightweight Bagless Vacuum

    Vacuum type Stick
    Weight 3 pounds
    Corded/Cordless Corded

    The Bissell Featherweight Stick Bagless Vacuum has just about everything you want from a vacuum for stairs. It is very lightweight, weighing just 3 pounds. It can convert from a stick to a handheld, so you can choose according to your preference, and it is really cheap. It has a 0.6-liter dust capacity and is a bagless vacuum so you don’t have to buy or dispose of used bags.

    While it is a great option and its low-cost and lightweight design make it our pick as the best vacuum for stairs for the money, it is somewhat limited in its applications. The 15-foot cord is quite short and means you will be unlikely to be able to finish all the stairs in one go. And while the suction is OK, it won’t do a good job of cleaning the whole house. If you want a separate vacuum for the stairs or one that is available for very little money, it is a very handy choice and it can be used for emergency clean-ups, too.

    Pros
    • Very light design
    • Converts from an upright to a handheld
    • Really cheap
    Cons
    • 15-foot cord could be longer
    • Not great for much other than cleaning the stairs

    3. Dyson V11 Cordless Handheld Vacuum – Premium Choice

    Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

    Vacuum type Stick
    Weight 3.08 pounds
    Corded/Cordless Cordless

    The Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Handheld Portable Vacuum Cleaner comes at the other extreme of the price scale and is the most expensive on this list, but this stick vacuum cleaner weighs only a fraction more than the Bissell Featherweight above. It has a head that automatically detects the floor type it is currently cleaning and adapts accordingly, and it has a maximum runtime of 60 minutes.

    Dyson claims that it has 40% more suction power than the previous model, too, and it does a good job of picking up pet hair and cleaning various surface types, while its automatic surface detection saves you the effort of working out the best mode. The bagless design holds 0.76 liters of dust, which will fill quite quickly because the extra suction means that the V11 picks up everything.

    Pros
    • Powerful suction is effective
    • Automatically detects and adjusts to the surface type
    • 60-minute runtime on a full charge
    Cons
    • Very expensive

    4. Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner

    Dyson V8 Animal

    Vacuum type Stick
    Weight 5.64 pounds
    Corded/Cordless Cordless

    The Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner is a slightly older and less equipped model than the V11 above but is also available for around half the price. The stick cleaner is cordless, and it can convert from a stick cleaner to a handheld according to which mode you prefer for stair cleaning duties. It does have good suction power, offers a hygienic bin emptying system that negates the need to touch the dirt, and it is relatively lightweight.

    However, it only has a 0.6-liter dust capacity, which could do with being a bit more spacious. And although Dyson claims a 40-minute maximum runtime, if you use it on the max setting, you will only get an 8-minute clean from a full, 4-hour charge.

    Pros
    • Good suction power
    • Converts from a stick to a handheld
    • Cordless cleaner makes it easy to move around
    Cons
    • 0.6-liter dust capacity could be better
    • Runtime is greatly reduced by the use of powered attachments

    5. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Hand Vacuum

    Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium Ion Cordless Hand Vacuum

    Vacuum type Handheld
    Weight 3 pounds
    Corded/Cordless Cordless

    The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Hand Vacuum is a true handheld. It is a lightweight cleaner, weighing just 3 pounds, and although it isn’t the cheapest on the list, it isn’t far from it.

    Despite being handheld, it has a 0.7-liter dust capacity, and the head has a motorized dust tool that works to get into the pile of the carpet and lift dirt out of the fibers, making it effective for cleaning up pet hairs and ground in dirt. So, it would be useful for emergency spot cleaning too, although handhelds are not a good choice for general cleaning.

    The Bissell only has a 14-minute runtime, though, which means you might have to do your stairs in multiple sittings, depending on how quick you are and how many stairs you have. There are some complaints, though. For example, there are noticeable static shocks from the machine when you press the power button which can be a little concerning.

    Pros
    • Lightweight handheld cleaner only weighs 3 pounds
    • Cheap price
    • Motorized head is good for eliminating pet hair
    Cons
    • 14-minute runtime is poor
    • Some complaints of static shocks from the power button

    6. Dyson Cyclone V10 Animal Cord-Free Stick Vacuum

    Dyson V11 Animal Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

    Vacuum type Stick
    Weight 5.7 pounds
    Corded/Cordless Cordless

    The Dyson Cyclone V10 Animal Cord-Free Stick Vacuum Cleaner is another powerful stick vacuum from Dyson. It has three power modes, so you can choose according to the level of dirt you have, and at the lowest setting, the V10 will run for up to an hour before it needs recharging, which is impressive. Be aware that if you use the soft roller, you will only get around 40 minutes of runtime, and with the torque drive cleaner, which is good for getting pet hair and stubborn ground in dirt, you will likely only get 20 minutes of runtime.

    It also has a 0.76-liter dust cup capacity and a HEPA filter to remove allergens down to 0.3 microns. This is a hybrid model, so by removing the stick, you can turn the V10 into a handheld and you still enjoy the same dust cup capacity and runtime.

    This is an expensive stick cleaner, but it does have some good features that make it a worthy vacuum for use on stairs and that can be used for other areas of the house, too.

    Pros
    • Stick cleaner converts to a handheld
    • Weighs less than 6 pounds
    • Torque Drive setting is good for pet hair removal
    Cons
    • Very pricey

    7. Shark CH951 Cordless Handheld Vacuum

    Shark CH951 Cordless Handheld Vacuum UltraCyclone Pet Pro Plus

    Vacuum type Handheld
    Weight 2.8 pounds
    Corded/Cordless Cordless

    The Shark CH951 Cordless Handheld Vacuum UltraCyclone Pet Pro Plus is one of the lightest vacuums on this list, weighing less than 3 pounds. Despite that, it has an extra large dust cup, although that is only by Shark handheld standards. It will hold up to 0.5 liters, which isn’t as impressive as the XL label makes it sound.

    Its UltraCyclone does an admirable job of picking up pet hair and makes quick work of dust, but it needs to because runtime is only just over 10 minutes, which means that you might have to recharge before finishing off the stairs. It comes with a decent selection of heads, and you can empty the dust cup without having to touch the dust at all making it a hygienic option. It is a little more expensive than some of the other dedicated handhelds on the list, however.

    Pros
    • Ultra-lightweight handheld, weighing less than 3 pounds
    • 0.5-liter dust capacity is reasonable, although not XL standard
    • Does a good job of picking up pet hair
    Cons
    • 10-minute runtime means a race against time to clean most stairs

    8. Samsung Jet 90 Stick Cordless Lightweight Vacuum Cleaner

    Samsung Jet 90 Stick Cordless Lightweight Vacuum Cleaner

    Vacuum type Stick
    Weight 6.17 pounds
    Corded/Cordless 0.8 liters

    The Samsung Jet 90 Stick Cordless Lightweight Vacuum Cleaner is an expensive stick cleaner, but it does have some very good features that make the cost worth it, if you can justify the expenditure. The stick of the stick vacuum is telescopic and can extend from around 3–4 feet and it comes with a good variety of heads that offer maneuverability and good cleaning functions. The machine has a large 0.8-liter capacity dust cup, too, and the five-stage filtration system means that the Jet 90 removes allergens and small dust particles from the air.

    It is a reasonably lightweight machine, weighing just over 6 pounds, and boasts a 60-minute runtime with a dual charging station so that you can buy and use a secondary battery to extend your runtime further, although obviously at the extra cost of buying a second battery.

    However, as with many of these devices, you will only get that full runtime in the lowest setting. At the highest setting, you will be lucky to get 15 minutes of use before having to recharge and, while the stand is a good feature, it can be awkward to find the space for it, especially if you don’t want to show off your Samsung stick cleaner.

    Pros
    • Powerful suction
    • Generous 0.8-liter dust capacity
    • 60-minute runtime, albeit only on the lowest setting
    Cons
    • 15-minute runtime on the highest setting
    • Stand is nice but not convenient
    • Expensive

    9. Black+Decker Dustbuster Cordless Handheld Vacuum

    Black+Decker Dustbuster QuickClean Cordless

    Vacuum type Handheld
    Weight 1.4 pounds
    Corded/Cordless Cordless

    The Black+Decker Dustbuster QuickClean Cordless Handheld Vacuum is an ultra-lightweight and highly portable handheld vacuum. It weighs 1.4 pounds, which is half the weight of the next lightest model on our list. It has a crevice tool that will get into tight spaces, like the corners of stairs. It has a dust cup capacity of approximately 0.4 liters and a 30-minute runtime.

    However, this cleaner isn’t really designed to clean the full stairs. It lacks the suction power to pick up pet hairs, but it is really light and portable and is suitable for emergency clean-ups on a few stairs without having to get anything larger out to clear up the mess. It also comes with a wall mount charger so that you can leave the cleaner charging between uses and it is always ready for the next spot cleaning emergency. It is a really cheap option for infrequent users.

    Pros
    • Really cheap price
    • 1.4 pounds is the lightest on this list
    • Convenient wall-mounted charger
    Cons
    • Not the most powerful
    • Not the best for full stairs cleaning

    10. Shark Navigator Lift-Away Upright Vacuum

    Shark NV356E S2 Navigator Lift-Away

    Vacuum type Upright
    Weight 13.7 pounds
    Corded/Cordless Corded

    If you’re looking for a dedicated stairs vacuum, then an upright likely isn’t your best option because it isn’t portable or lightweight enough to be convenient. However, if you want a vacuum that can be used for multiple purposes including cleaning the stairs, then a reasonably light upright with a long hose and detachable pod can be beneficial.

    The Shark Navigator Lift-Away Upright Vacuum has a 2-liter dust bin capacity, which is one benefit of an upright, and it weighs just under 14 pounds, which is considerably more than a handheld or stick vacuum but not too bad for an upright. It is a corded vacuum, which means you don’t have to worry about runtime or charging and it does a good job picking up pet hair and ground-in dirt.

    However, the Shark Navigator is heavy to lift up and down the stairs, but it doesn’t do as well with pet hairs as some of the more premium options.

    Pros
    • 2-liter dust capacity
    • Suitable for cleaning all areas of the house
    Cons
    • Not lightweight or portable
    • Could do better at picking up pet hairs

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    Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Vacuum for Stairs

    Vacuuming the stairs is difficult. Or it can be if you don’t have the right vacuum for the job. The right vacuum obviously has to have the suction power to pick up all the dust, dirt, debris, and pet hair that gathers, but it should also be lightweight enough that it is easy to carry up and down the stairs. It should either have no cord or one that is long enough to easily reach both ends of the staircase. Below are some of the key features to look for when choosing the best vacuum for stairs.

    Vacuum Type

    Although robot vacuums are out of the question for cleaning the stairs, that still leaves plenty of alternatives:

    • Stick Vacuum – The stick vacuum is a lightweight vacuum that consists of the stick, or pole, and has a dust cup or dust collector near the handle. Some may offer the functionality of being able to extend the stick pole. These are handy for stairs because they allow you to stay upright without having to bend to vacuum each stair, are lightweight enough to be able to carry up the stairs, and cordless versions tend to offer enough runtime to be able to get from bottom to top—or top to bottom.
    • Upright – An upright vacuum is a single unit that can stand up on its own. They usually have powered roller heads and large dust collection boxes or bags, and because of the extra power needed to carry the weight of the dustpan and to power the roller heads, they are usually mains powered rather than battery powered. These can be big and bulky so are rarely the vacuum of choice to tackle a lot of stairs. However, most allow you to remove the handle or use a hose and attachment while carrying the main unit. This can make it easier for cleaning stairs but still necessitates carrying the weight of the vacuum as you go.
    • Handheld – A handheld vacuum is a small device that can be held in one hand and contains everything you need in a small, lightweight package. However, these often have small dustpans and lack the suction power of other models. They are most commonly used to clean up emergency messes or to clean cars and other tight spaces. If you have relatively few stairs and relatively little mess, a handheld may be enough, especially if you have a main vacuum that can be used for larger messes. What’s more, some modern models do offer more power and more room for dust, which makes them a more viable option.
    • Hybrid – Hybrid machines are those that offer the features of two or more types of vacuums. In the case of vacuums for stairs, a hybrid would usually be a stick vacuum that can be converted to a handheld. The stick vacuum can be used in the rest of the house, and it can be converted into a handheld to tackle the stairs or in a cleaning emergency.

    What to Look For

    As well as the suction power and cleaning capability, you should consider the following features when shopping around.

    • Dust Capacity – This is the amount of dust and debris that the vacuum can hold before it needs to be emptied, whether in a bag or in a dustpan or cup. Capacities usually range from around 0.4–2 liters or more. Even the smallest pan should be large enough to hold the dirt from a set of stairs, but if you don’t want to have to empty the vacuum every time you clean, or you will use it to clean other areas of the home as well, look for a larger capacity.
    • Weight – Whatever style of vacuum you choose, you will have to hold its weight while you’re vacuuming. Canister vacuums will not normally balance on the stairs or have a long enough hose to be able to do a whole flight of stairs while leaving the canister on the ground. Handhelds are lightest, sticks tend to be next, and uprights are the heaviest option, but weight is also determined by factors like whether a machine is electric or battery powered, and what additional features it has.
    • Corded or Cordless – Corded machines use electricity to power them. They need to be plugged in, and unless the lead is long enough, this usually means that you will have to unplug the vacuum halfway through a set of stairs and relocate the plug to another floor before finishing the job. Cordless vacuums are more convenient, but they also need charging and have limited runtime before they have to be charged. Typical run times vary from 10 minutes for basic handhelds to around 60 minutes for the more advanced stick vacuums. Runtime is affected by whether you use powered rollers or additional features like boost or max power.

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    Conclusion

    The best vacuum for stairs needs to be lightweight, portable, and have good suction power and cleaning features. While compiling the reviews above, we found the Shark Cordless Vertex Pro+ cordless upright to be portable enough to deal with stairs and powerful enough to be able to clean other rooms and surfaces, while being available for a reasonable price. The Bissell Featherweight Stick Vacuum weighs just 3 pounds and is even more portable, while also being cordless. It is really cheap and a great choice for those that are looking for a vacuum solely for the stairs or for limited additional uses.


    Featured Image Credit: Hermann, Pixabay

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