Last updated on December 6th, 2018 by Garrick Dee
The stairs has got to be one of the toughest spots to clean inside your home.
With a traditional upright vacuum it is virtually impossible because of the sheer size.
Even upright vacuums with a hose attachment will have trouble cleaning this part of the house.
These hoses aren’t very long (usually 3 to 5 feet) and if you have a tall flight of stairs it’s almost impossible.
Another factors include power cord length and bulkiness. it’s not easy lugging around a 15 pound vacuum.
Look for vacuums with unique and innovating features
Fortunately there are manufacturers who’ve created innovative products that make stair cleaning possible.
For this article I’ll be focusing on cordless vacuums because it won’t take very long to clean stairs. You’ll need only less than 10 minutes to clean a flight of stairs.
Cordless vacuums are great options for stairs because you are freed from the burden of managing cords.
The latest models have better batteries that will run for at least 15 minutes.
But just in case you need something with a cord, I’ve added a section for such.
To help you navigate through this guide click on any of the links below if you’re in a hurry.
But I’d recommend reading all of it to give you a better idea on what vacuum is best for your needs.
Dyson V6 Absolute
Makita XLC02R1W 18V
Black + Decker BDH2400FH
Shark Pet Perfect II Hand Vac
New Bissell Cordless Pet Hair Eraser
|Battery||22.2 volt Nickel|
|18 volt Li-ion||18 volt Nickel Cadmium||18 volt Nickel Cadmium||14.4 vold Li-ion|
|Charge time||3.5 hrs||25 mins||16 hours||16 hours||5 hrs (initial)|
|Run time||26 (normal) mins|
6 (max) mins
|15 mins||15 mins |
(less if the motorized brush is attached)
|15 mins |
(less if the motorized brush is attached)
|5 to 15 mins|
|Attachments||Soft roller cleaner head|
Direct-drive cleaner head
Mini motorized tool
Mini soft dusting brush
Combination accessory tool
|Extension and Wand|
|Weight (pounds)||4.6 pounds||2.7 pounds||6.5 pounds||4.92 pounds||3.75 pounds|
|Warranty||2-years||3 years on vacuum|
1 year on battery and charger
The most important feature to look at would be how long it would run on a single charge.
Has enough run time
You’ll need something that will at least run for 15 minutes. It’s long enough to clean a normal flight of stairs without having to recharge.
Next would be portability and versatility.
It has to weigh less than 10 pounds so you don’t strain your hands and wrists.
And if possible look for a vacuum with interchangeable tools and a wand. A motorized attachment would be a huge bonus if you have carpet but those products tend to be more expensive.
If possible, look for something with special tools
Some higher end brands like the Dyson V6 would provide you with a bristled brush for carpet and a soft fabric type brush for bare floor.
To give you a specific example if your home has carpet stairs, the DC59 MotorHead would be a great option because it has the direct drive cleaner head.
This tool provides excellent agitation to pick up hair, dust and other impurities from carpet.
Dyson Fluffy is a good example
For homes with only bare floor stairs the V6 Fluffy would be the no-brainer option because of the soft roller cleaner head tool.
It uses a combination of soft nylon and stiff carbon fiber filaments that wrap around a bar.
This is such an effective tool for bare floor because it literally grabs dirt without scratching the surface. And if you look closely at the design, it has diagonal grooves designed to pick up fine dust.
A bristled brush isn’t the best tool on bare floor. It tends to make a bigger mess because the stiff bristles will throw stuff around.
Not all the vacuums here will have that but some will come close, just scroll down to find out.
Our Pick – Dyson V6 Absolute
The V6 Absolute is one of the most powerful and versatile cordless vacuums right now outside the V10 and V8. This is in my opinion the best option you have for cleaning stairs because it is cordless. And the ability to attach the main cleaning head directly on the body makes it easier to do such.
- Most usable option on bare floor surfaces
- Great performance on both carpet and bare floor stairs
- Lightweight and versatile capable of also cleaning upholstery
- Decent run time of up to 20 minutes
- Very expensive
- Messy to empty (you can opt for the cheaper Dyson V7)
More affordable than the Dyson V8 and V10
The V8 and V10 are newer variants but we like the V6 because it’s much cheaper which makes it a great option.
Very few will be able to match it in these areas which is a big reason why many consumers love it.
Great not just on floors but also on stairs
Not only does this machine do well on floors but it does well on stairs thanks to the lightweight design, tools and power.
First let’s focus with the product design
With the extension wand and floor tool attached, this becomes a fully functional stick vacuum capable of cleaning bare floor or carpet equally well.
It comes with two cleaning heads for the task – the soft roller cleaner head and direct driver cleaner head.
Both are designed for bare floor and carpet respectively.
The magic of this design is the interchangeability of these parts.
Cleaning stairs is simple as removing the wand and attaching any of the two motorized tools direct on the body.
The floor toot itself swivels independently so even without the wand it moves around easy.
Good for cleaning upholstery too
It also comes with a mini motorized tool for upholstery similar to the one in the Dyson Mattress.
To show you what I mean watch this video to demonstrate how this product cleans stairs…
In the early part of the video, you can see that even with the extension wand and the direct driven cleaner head attached on the vacuum it still nimble enough to move around the step and it picked up quite a lot!
Using the mini turbo brush allows you to clean the vertical parts of stairs. It’s something impossible with an upright.
Remember that the V6 Absolute isn’t your only option if you opt for a Dyson. There are a total of 10 different V6 variants each armed with a set of tools for a specific purpose.
This particular variant is perfect for stairs both for homes with or without carpet. It also doubles as a handheld vacuum as well that’s why it’s on top of the list.
Bottom line: The Dyson V6 Absolute is currently the best stair cleaning tool right now. It combines power, versatility, portability with top-notched quality that none of its competitors can match. This product is great for both carpet and bare floor. If you only have bare floor go with the V6 Fluffy. For carpet, the DC59 MotorHead is a great deal.
Super-Fast Charging: Makita XLC02R1B 18V
The Makita XLC02R1W is another good option at least on non-carpet stairs thanks to its compact size and interchangeability. One feature that stands out is the super fast charging time that’ll take just 20 minutes.
- Will fully charge in just 25 minutes
- Extremely lightweight and maneuverable – great for cleaning stairs
- Great option for heavy duty cleaning
- Lacks a motorized brush
- No swivel steering
The biggest obstacle in a lot of cordless vacuums right now is the long charging time.
Even brands like the Dyson above will take a few hours to fully charge.
There’s one brand in the market that designed their batteries to be able to charge in less than an hour.
20 minutes to be exact.
Here’s the Makita XLC02R1B stick vacuum. This is an updated version of the BCL180W that is not currently available in Amazon.
Similar versatility as the V6
In terms of functionality, this Makita vacuum is similar to the V6 Absolute. This means you can attach the main floor too to the vacuum itself and remove the wand making it a very capable floor cleaner especially on hard floor surfaces.
The suction is pretty impressive that it is capable of sucking in large stuff like bolts and nuts.
Great as a shop vacuum
In a way Makita designed this to be a shop vacuum for DIY folks who like to make their own stuff. Imagine what this can clean – saw dust, clips, small bolts and the like.
Can’t use this on plush carpet
The downside with this product is the lack of a motorized brush which means you cannot use this on medium to plush carpet. But on bare floor and low pile stairs it should be able to do the job.
This vacuum isn’t popular but don’t ignore it if you need something robust that can clean fine stuff like saw dust or large items like bolts. Heck, it’s a shop vacuum without a cord. Add to that the 25 minute charge time, you have a handy little tool that you can use inside your garage and in your home.
The Black & Decker BDH2400FH is a good cheap option if the Dyson V6 Absolute is too expensive. It has the same properties as the Dyson like the interchangeable tools and it has pretty good suction that’ll do well cleaning bare floor and low pile stairs.
- Cheaper option than the Dyson V8
- The ability to attach the main cleaning head on the body makes this a great option to clean stairs
- Good suction at 40 air watts
- So so performance on carpet
The success of the Dyson cordless vacuum has spawned a lot of imitators and this vacuum is one of them – in a subtle way.
Similar filter as a Dyson
This vacuum is part of the next generation Black & Decker vacuums equipped with the ORA technology.
What is the ORA technology?
ORA technology is Black and Decker’s version of the cyclonic technology. Similar to a Dyson it uses “cyclones” that prevent fine dust from degrading performance.
In terms of design, I’ve mentioned earlier that this vacuum is in a lot of ways a Dyson-clone in terms of the ability to interchange parts.
Like the V6 Absolute, this vacuum comes with an extension wand that turns this to a stick vacuum.
The floor head comes with swivel steering so maneuverability is not an issue.
Remote the extension wand and this converts into a handheld vacuum. It weighs less than 7 pounds so it’s light enough to clean stairs.
More suction than a Dyson in default power mode
In terms of power, this vacuum has pretty decent air watt numbers – around 40 which is more than the Dyson in normal mode.
But it does not have the Max mode where that number jumps up to 100 but still 40 air watts is pretty decent when you need to clean up bare floor or low pile carpet.
This vacuum is a great option for folks who cannot afford the V6 Absolute. It comes with decent power and the same versatility that the Dyson brings to the table minus the agitation and diverse tool set.
The Shark Pet Perfect II is a good option if you want something lightweight capable of cleaning pet hair on carpet. Agitation is good thanks to the stiff bristles but the NiCad battery take too long to recharge. If you feel that the NiCad is too outdated you can opt for the newer Shark Pet Perfect LV801 that has the Lithium battery.
- Cheap option that works best at cleaning pet hair
- Decent agitation that will be efficient at cleaning dirt from upholstery
- NiCad battery prone to power fade
- Takes very long to recharge
Takes long to charge
First, it takes 16 hours to recharge and will run for around 15 minutes on a full charge.
Some issues with fit and finish
Second, the attachments doesn’t lock securely into place, there is a risk of the attachment falling when you don’t push hard enough.
Works great on stairs
Aside from those two flaws, it works great on stairs, both carpet and hard flooring because of the motorized brush attachment.
It doesn’t swivel or pivot but it’ll still do the job. If you have any sort of arthritis, avoid buying this.
The biggest pro, it costs less than $50, the second cheapest of the 7 vacuums here.
If you need to clean some pet hair on carpet stairs, this is a great option for spot cleaning. Despite getting the nod from Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping, the very long charge time drags its ranking down.
The new Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is a newer version of the older version of the Bissell Corded Pet Hair Eraser and it is a great option because it has the better Lithium Ion battery that will run and last longer. Like the old version this is lightweight and specifically made for cleaning pet hair. If you have lots of pets at home this is a good option for cleaning hair off stairs.
- Great option for cleaning pet hair off stairs
- Lithium ion battery will run longer than the older version
- No motorized brush which affects its efficiency when cleaning pet hair
A few years ago Bissell had a product called the pet hair eraser that cleaned up pet hair.
Although it was a good product it had several flaws that this new version has addressed.
Great for pet hair
If you’re looking for something to clean pet hair with on stairs then give this new Bissell Pet Hair Eraser a close look.
It now has a motorized brush attachment that will work well picking up pet hair not just on upholstery but also stairs.
The two-stage filtration system does a better job in filtering out larger dirt and keeping it away from the main filter inside.
Cleans up pet hair
What makes this great for stairs is the motorized brush itself which makes it efficient at picking up dirt.
No it will not deep clean pet hair but at least you’re removing surface dirt away and it does not build up.
The downside to this tool is the lack of a pivot point that puts more strain on your risk as you move it back and forth.
Unlike the old handheld pet hair eraser that used a NiCad battery, this version has a lithium ion battery will run for up to 15 minutes. Recharging will take around 3 hours more or less.
It also comes with a crevice and upholstery tool for cleaning cramped spaces and upholstery such as sofas, chairs and mattresses.
Well, for this to be a complete guide, I’ll guide some recommendations for corded vacuums for stairs. This guide won’t be complete without it so here goes.
Dyson Clone: Shark Rocket TruePet
The Shark Rocket TruePet is a Dyson V6 with a cord. Both products will offer a similar type of versatility that other options here does not have. It has comparable power because it is corded but it’s heavier and the cord somewhat limits the reach. If you don’t mind that, then go ahead and roll the dice with this.
- This is as versatile as the Dyson V6 Absolute but with a cord
- Interchangeable tools make this a great option for cleaning stairs
- LED headlights helps with visibility
- Cord limits reach and usability
- More top heavy than the Dyson
From the placement of the power switch down to the floor cleaning head this vacuum screams Dyson and then some.
Same design as a Dyson cordless
Like the Dyson, you can attach the main floor tool on the vacuum itself to deep clean carpeted stairs. It also comes with a mini turbo brush, similar to a Dyson that is smaller and will allow you to clean the vertical areas of your stairs.
It has around 500 watts of power which is pretty good. Since it has a cord, you don’t have to worry about batteries running out.
But it has a cord
The power cord is around 32 feet long and it doesn’t have a rewind feature. It does have a cord hooks where you can tidy up the cord after use.
Unlike the Dyson V6 Absolute, the Shark Rocket TruePet has LED headlights which mean better visibility when cleaning low light areas like under the mattress or tables.
If you want something minus the cord then I suggest you consider the Shark ION Rocket IR101. It’s a newer Shark vacuum that has the same features as this only without the cord.
Heavier than a V6 or V8
It is heavier than a Dyson V6 – over 8 pounds which can put a strain on the wrist when you lift it over your head.
And since it is top heavy, it will not stand on it’s own.
Wide cleaning path
But it does give you a wider cleaning path (12” vs 9.8”) and a longer reach thanks to the extra-long crevice tool.
More tools than a Dyson
And here’s a bonus – it comes with a hard floor genie tool that looks like the Dyson Hard! You don’t need to buy that overpriced product because Shark has the same tool included.
If you don’t mind the wrapping and un-wrapping the long cord before and after using this then this is a viable (and cheaper) option for stair cleaning as well as general house cleaning but take note that since it has a similar design to the Dyson, it has a small dirt canister which means more frequent trips to the bin.
Corded Handheld: Eureka EasyClean 71B
The Eureka EasyClean 71B’s design is purpose built for cleaning carpet stairs. It has this feature called the riser visor where the main cleaning head pivots up and down allow this to clean risers. If you have carpet stairs and pets at home, give this a look.
- Motorized brush great for cleaning pet hair
- Decent agitation will clean carpet decently well
- Detachable hose and crevice tool gives this some versatility
- Short power cord
- Small dirt bin
Lightweight and a great stair cleaner
This lightweight handheld is another viable option for carpeted stairs because it has a motorized brush.
It also has one unique feature that will allow you to clean carpeted stairs vertically – the riser visor.
Instead of using a fixed nozzle, Eureka allows it to rotate at an angle so that cleaning a vertical area is possible.
This not only applies to stairs but also on upholstery.
Low profile nozzle will snow plow larger bits of debris
The downside to the low profile nozzle is that it will have a plowing effect when you try to clean larger items like cheerios.
But for cleaning up dust and dust bunnies on bare floor stairs it shouldn’t be a problem.
One thing I worry about this is the short 20 foot power cord which may not be enough for a tall flight of stairs or stairs that turn. If you don’t have a power cord near your stairs, you may want to opt for something cordless.
This is a great lightweight handheld corded option for folks who don’t mind having a cord in the way. It will pick up pet hair on upholstery and stairs. But I must warn you that it doesn’t hold as much as the other options here but it still does the job.
Remember stair cleaning isn’t hard if you have the right tools.
You can go old school with a broom and a dustpan. But from experience it’s pretty hard to pick up statically charge dust just a broom. What you need is a tool that sucks up dirt, pet hair, dust bunnies, etc.
Homes with carpeted stairs will need more TLC in terms of vacuuming because of the potential allergen build up.
Why I like the V6 Absolute?
In terms of outright performance and versatility the V6 Absolute is your absolute choice. It comes with cleaning designed for both bare floor and carpet plus your other above the floor cleaning needs.
The biggest downside would be the price but if you can afford it, you’d not regret your choice. Even though consumers have complained about the dirt bin that does not empty as easy as advertised.
With regards to the price, you can opt for a refurbished and save hundreds.
Have a look at the V8 if you want a better overall product
For those who have a workshop in their home, the Makita XLC02R1W because is has the robustness of a shop vacuum with the same versatility as a Dyson.
The handhelds here are great if you’re looking for something to clean fabric upholstery and stairs.
If you feel that I’ve missed on any other models, please let me know in the comment below.