Quick Steps for Vacuuming Stairs
HomeHome > Blog > Quick Steps for Vacuuming Stairs

Quick Steps for Vacuuming Stairs

Mar 12, 2023

The cordless, upright, canister, and handheld vacuums that make the job easier

When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our nonprofit mission. Learn more.

With the exception of those pesky cobwebs that gather in the corners of your ceiling, stairs may be the most annoying area of your home to vacuum. Hauling a heavy appliance up and down can be cumbersome at best, and a vacuum cord poses a serious tripping hazard.

The task is trickier if you rely on one full-sized upright or canister vacuum for all of your household cleaning. While uprights are the vacuum of choice for carpeted floors, they’re difficult to maneuver on stairs. Canister vacuums are a bit less clunky because you can hold the hose and powerhead in one hand and the canister in the other as you make your way up and down. But as a practical matter, some uprights and canisters can weigh 25 pounds or more. That's a lot of weight to tote up and down a flight.

But thanks to innovations in vacuum design, there are alternatives that take the ugh out of this ugly chore, especially if you’re considering adding another vacuum to your cleaning collection.

We asked the experts in our vacuum testing labs for some recommendations and they had some great tips. "Most stick vacuums convert to hand-vac mode, so you get the power of the stick vac but the versatility of a handheld," says Susan Booth, who leads CR's vacuum testing team. "In hand-vac mode, the vacuum may not be quite as light as a dedicated handheld, but it's helpful in hard-to-reach areas."

Frank Rizzi, another project leader, points to uprights made by Shark that have a "lift-away" feature that makes it possible to separate the collection tank from the powerhead, so it operates much like a canister. These are particularly good for carpeted stairs, where you may need more suction to remove the debris.

No matter what kind of vacuum you use, here are a few simple tips that make vacuuming stairs easier.

Sweep first. If it's been a while or there's noticeable dust and debris on the stairs, start with a broom and dustpan or a Swiffer-type floor cleaner with a microfiber cloth to remove the top layer of dirt.

Work from the top of the stairs down. Although your inclination may be to walk up the stairs with vacuum in hand, it's more efficient to start at the landing and work your way down so you can suck up anything that gets dislodged and falls to the step below.

Use your attachments. Most full-sized vacuums and many stick models come with attachments that make it simple to clean in tight corners and along edges—and there are plenty of both on stairs. The crevice tool, with its angled design, is particularly handy for tight places.

Don't forget the risers. Because you don't want to carry out this task every week, do a thorough job when you make the effort. That means taking time to vacuum the vertical parts of your stairs as well as the treads. The crevice tool or a small brush attachment works well for this.

Here are some recommendations from our vacuum team that also score highly in our tests. For many more, see our full vacuum ratings and recommendations. (While we don't officially recommend any cordless stick vacuums because of battery-life issues, many score very well in our performance tests.)

Become a member to read the full article and get access to digital ratings.

We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.

Quick Steps for Vacuuming Stairs How to Vacuum Stairs Sweep first. Work from the top of the stairs down. Use your attachments. Don't forget the risers.