Best Vacuum Cleaners for Stairs for 2020
Vacuum cleaners for stairs must be able to clean various types of surfaces including carpets, hardwood, tiles and similar, they must be lightweight and compact to allow easy access to the cleaned surfaces and must have cleaning tools that are able to clean most common types of dirt found at homes like dust, hair, fibers, etc.
Vacuum cleaners for stairs come in various sizes and shapes, from full-size vacuums with stretch cleaning hoses, convertible upright vacuums, lightweight canister vacuums, corded and cordless vacuums, and similar. Also, for cleaning stains and stubborn dried dirt, portable carpet stain cleaners can come very handy. While robot vacuums can be very helpful in keeping the home clean, they are not suitable for cleaning stairs, on the contrary, if they fall off the stairs, they can get damaged.
Published: June 16, 2020.
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Intro to Stairs Vacuum Cleaners
There are several key features that a good stair vacuum must have, including:
Long Reach: in order to clean the stairs, a vacuum cleaner must have long reach, which is accomplished by having a long power cord or the vacuum is cordless, and having long and flexible cleaning hose or the unit is lightweight and compact enough to be handheld. Obviously, classic upright vacuums are not the best choice for stair vacuums, but upright vacuums with long cleaning hoses and long power cords are an excellent choice not only for a stair vacuum, but also for a main home vacuum cleaner.
Strong Suction is essential for cleaning not only stairs, but also other surfaces as well. When cleaning carpeted stairs, a small Pet/Turbo brush is required for deep cleaning of pet and human hair, lint, fibers, and other deeply embedded dirt. Suction strength is measured in Air Watts, but many manufacturers also use kPa (kilo-Pascals: kilo-Newtons per square meter). While Air Watts rating accurately describes the actual strength of the air flow, suction pressure (kPa) just shows static pressure that the unit can achieve.
Generally, 100 Air Watts is the minimum suction strength enough for somewhat more demanding cleaning tasks - some corded vacuums reach 300+ Air Watts. If the actual Air Watt rating is small (for example, less than 100 Air Watts), but the vacuum comes with a small suction nozzle, its local suction strength is usually very strong and is able to clean properly stairs, car seats, furniture, smaller carpets, and similar surfaces, but at a slower pace.
Suction pressure is generally in the 10-20kPa range, but there are models with even larger suction pressure.
Cleaning tools for stairs must allow the user to thoroughly clean the stair surface, but also corners, edges, and other hard to reach areas. Most important cleaning tools for stairs depend on the stairs' surfaces, but generally, these are Pet/Turbo mini brushroll, crevice tool, dusting brush, upholstery tool, and similar.
Corded or Cordless Vacuum: Corded vacuums generally have stronger suction, but they also have a power cord that has to reach the nearest wall power socket and a power cord must be pulled behind during the entire cleaning session. On the other hand, cordless units may clean any surface without the physical access limitation, but their runtime is limited by the amount of energy stored locally in the battery.
Although the cordless vacuums runtime is limited when they are used at maximum power, stairs feature relatively small surface to clean, allowing the cordless vacuums to operate practically non-stop at full power, if required.
Air Filtration Level - the level of air filtration is a very important feature for determining the actual quality of the vacuum cleaner. Most manufacturers claim that their units are HEPA vacuums, but they don't always clearly state the actual HEPA level.
In the European Union air filtration is defined by standard EN 1822 (or ISO 29463, which was derived from EN 1822), which defines several classes of EPA/HEPA/ULPA air filters according to their ability to retain(!) the Most Penetrating Particle Size (MPPS) particles that are in the 0.1 and 0.3 micrometers range.
In the US, the main standard test is MIL-STD-282, although others are used as well (IEST-RP-CC001 and IEST-RP-CC007, for example) - to keep things as short as possible, 'true HEPA' air filtration means the ability of the air filter/vacuum cleaner to retain at least 99.97% of 0.3 microns or larger particles. Thus, 'true HEPA' is between H13 and H14 filter classes.
Following chart lists classifications of the EPA/HEPA/ULPA filters according to the EN 1822 standard:
|Filter Group||Filter Class||Filtration Efficiency||Penetration|
|Efficiency Particulate Air (EPA) Filters||E10||85 %||15 %|
|E11||95 %||5 %|
|E12||99.5 %||0.5 %|
|High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters||H13||99.95 %||0.05 %|
|H14||99.995 %||0.005 %|
|Ultra-Low Penetration Air (ULPA) Filters||U15||99.9995 %||0.0005 %|
|U16||99.99995 %||0.00005 %|
|U17||99.999995 %||0.000005 %|
For example, 99.95% air filtration means that 9995 particles of 10000 particles are captured, with 5 vacuumed particles being released back into the cleaned area.
Vacuum Cleaner Type: most commonly, stair vacuums are either corded upright/canister vacuums with a long cleaning hose, corded or cordless convertible stick vacuums, and corded or cordless handheld vacuums. Also, for cleaning sticky messes and stains, corded and cordless spot cleaners can come very handy - they can be used even as a small stairs' shampooers (instead of full-size carpet shampooers) for thorough cleaning of carpeted stairs.
Of course, when trying to find 'the best' vacuum cleaner for stairs, always choose according to your own personal needs and requirements.
Note: Although modern vacuum cleaners are very intuitive to use, when they arrive, be sure to thoroughly read the Owner's Guide/Manual in order to get accustomed to your new unit and to be able to use it and maintain it as recommended by the manufacturer.
Here is our list of some of the best stairs vacuum cleaners:
1. Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean Upright Vacuum
Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean is a large and powerful vacuum with a rather long reach - its physical dimensions are (H x W x D) 42.1 x 15.4 x 13.4 inches (~107 x 39 x 34 cm) and it weighs 17.5 pounds (~7.9 kg).
It is powered by 35 feet (~10.7 m) long power cord and in combination with its cleaning hose, it features a total reach of ~50 feet (~15.2 m).
Maximum suction is rated at 306 Air Watts and that is really a lot of suction.
Air filtration is true HEPA - unit is able to capture 99.97% of 0.3 microns or larger particles and store them in the 0.55 gal large dirt cup. Dirt cup is translucent, allowing the user to see the amount and type of vacuumed dirt.
Another reason why Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean is at the top of our list is its list of cleaning tools that come with the unit by default: Combination Tool, Stair Tool, Tangle-Free Turbine Tool, Reach Under Tool, Carbon Fiber Soft Dusting Brush, Mattress Tool, Multi-Angle Brush and Articulating Hard Floor Tool.
If You are looking for a strong, full-size corded bagless upright vacuum cleaner that can be used as the main vacuum cleaner even in large homes and apartments and that is one of the best stair vacuums, consider this unit.
Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean costs more than the average upright vacuum, but what You pay is what You get - a strong unit that saves both time and effort.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean Upright Vacuum Cleaner Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
2. Shark APEX AZ1002 DuoClean with Zero-M Powered Lift-Away Upright Vacuum
However, Shark APEX AZ1002 features several very important cleaning technologies from Shark, including 'Powered Lift-Away' technology, allowing the unit to be used in Powered Lift-Away cleaning mode, Upright cleaning mode, and Above-Floor cleaning mode, allowing the user to clean all surfaces from the floor to the ceiling, stairs included.
Additional cleaning technologies include:
- Shark DuoClean: two different brushrolls that work in unison,
- Shark Zero-M: the second brushroll is optimized for picking up hair and lint, and features Zero-M technology which automatically removes hair and other similar debris.
Also, Shark APEX AZ1002 features Advanced Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology, Noise Reduction Technology, Active-Glide Technology and is intended as the main vacuum cleaner even in large homes and apartments.
Shark APEX AZ1002 physical dimensions are (L x W x H) 12 x 11.2 x 46 inches (~30.5 x 28.5 x 117 cm), it weighs 16 pounds (~7.25 kg) and is rated at 1350 watts (11.3 Amps).
Unit is a true HEPA vacuum cleaner - it is able to filter out 99.97% of 0.3 microns or larger particles, which is excellent.
Translucent dirt cup features 1.5 quarts capacity and is easily emptied in the trashcan.
Additional cleaning tools include 12" Crevice Tool, Pet Multi-Tool, and Motorized Pet Tool - the list is not as long as the list of Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean, but it contains everything for proper cleaning of stairs, upholstery, pet beds and similar.
If You are looking for convertible upright vacuum cleaner that is able to reach and clean rather awkward areas and spaces, but it is also able to clean large areas of floors, consider this unit.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Shark APEX AZ1002 DuoClean Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
3. Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister Vacuum
Unit features suction strength of 250 Air Watts and true HEPA air filtration, with physical dimensions of 13.7 x 15.7 x 12.1 inches (~35 x 40 x 31 cm) and a weight of 17.64 pounds (~8 kg), with the most weight being in the canister itself.
The power cord is 21 feet (6.4 m) long with a maximum reach of 35 feet (10.7 m).
Transparent dirt cup features a capacity of 0.42 gallons (~1-6 liters) and can be easily emptied in the trashcan.
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister Vacuum is intended as the main vacuum cleaner in large homes and apartments and as such features Carbon Fiber Turbine Head for vacuuming of the different floor surfaces and the set of cleaning tools intended for cleaning of elevated surfaces, consisting of Tangle Free Turbine Tool, Stiff Bristle Brush, Combination Tool and Stair Tool.
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister Vacuum is an excellent vacuum cleaner for people who are looking for a high-end bagless canister vacuum cleaner.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister Vacuum Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
4. Shark APEX LZ601 UpLight Lift-Away DuoClean Vacuum Cleaner
Shark APEX LZ601 UpLight features a detachable cleaning wand, Lift-Away pod, and built-in cleaning hose, allowing the unit to be used in several cleaning modes.
As its name suggests, Shark APEX LZ601 UpLight Lift-Away DuoClean vacuum comes with several Sharks cleaning technologies like Lift-Away pod, DuoClean main cleaner floor head, Anti-Allergen Complete Seal, self-cleaning brushroll and similar.
Physical dimensions of the unit are (L x W x H) 46.19 x 10.44 x 11.38 inches (~117.3 x 26.5 x 28.9 cm), while it weighs in stick/upright configuration 10.7 pounds (~4.85 kg).
The unit is rated at 5.8 Amps (700 watts) and features 30 feet (~9.15 m) long power cord and 4.2 feet (~1.3 m) long flexible cleaning hose.
Shark APEX LZ601 UpLight features HEPA multilayered air filtration system being able to filter out 99.9% of 0.3 microns or larger particles.
Additional cleaning tools include Duster Crevice Tool and Pet Multi-Tool, suitable for thorough and deep cleaning of various types of stairs, carpeted stairs included.
Due to its size, Shark APEX LZ601 UpLight features relatively small dirt cup of 0.66 quarts, and is not suitable as the main vacuum cleaner for large homes and apartments. But, for small to medium apartments and homes that feature stairs, it can come very handy due to its versatility and simple maintenance.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Shark APEX LZ601 UpLight Lift-Away DuoClean Vacuum Cleaner Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
5. Dyson V11 Outsize and Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuums
When operated at maximum suction mode, Dyson V11 Outsize and Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuums feature suction strength of 220 and 185 Air Watts respectively, making them stronger than many corded upright and stick vacuums.
Both units feature transparent dirt cup with Dyson V11 Outsize having larger dirt cup (0.5 gal vs 0.2 gal) than the Dyson V11 Torque Drive cordless vacuum.
Operating time using maximum suction mode is 12 minutes for both units, but Dyson V11 Outsize comes with 2 fast-charging lithium batteries and is able to operate for 24 minutes using both batteries.
Also, both units feature several suction modes and a long list of available cleaning tools and attachments:
Dyson V11 Outsize comes with High Torque XL cleaner head (25% wider than Torque Drive's improved Torque Drive Cleaner Head), Mini Motorized Tool, Mini Soft Dusting Brush, Combination Tool, Stubborn Dirt Brush and Crevice Tool. Also, Dyson V11 Outsize comes with Wand Storage Clip, Docking station, two battery chargers, and an additional click-in battery.
Dyson V11 Torque Drive comes with improved Torque Drive Cleaner Head, Mini Motorized Tool, Combination Tool, Crevice Tool, Mini Soft Dusting Brush, and Stubborn Dirt Brush. Also, Dyson V11 Torque Drive comes with Wand Storage Clip, Docking station, and a battery charger.
Dyson V11 Outsize features HEPA air filtration system being able to filter out 99.99% of 0.3 microns or larger particles, while Dyson V11 Torque Drive comes with HEPA air filtration system being able to filter out 99.97% of 0.3 microns or larger particles.
Although Dyson V11 Outsize and Dyson V11 Torque Drive are expensive vacuum cleaners, they are also rather popular units often used even in large homes and apartments for quick and thorough cleaning. With its large dirt cup and second battery, Dyson V11 Outsize is even used as the main vacuum cleaner in such homes and apartments.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Dyson V11 Outsize and Torque Drive Cordless Vacuum Cleaners Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
6. Tineco Pure One S12 Plus
Dirt cup capacity is 0.6 liters, making it suitable for quick cleanups and regular cleanups of small to medium size homes and apartments. Thanks to the bottom emptying system, dirt cup can be quickly emptied directly into the trashcan.
When the unit is used in Maximum Suction Mode, operating time is ~10.5 minutes using a single battery (20-21 minutes using both batteries).
Since the Tineco Pure One S12 Plus is intended for vacuuming both floors and elevated surfaces, it comes with Direct-Drive LED Multi-Floor Power Brush and LED Soft-Roller Power Brush intended for cleaning different types of floors and for vacuuming of elevated surfaces, it comes with 2-in-1 Dusting Brush, Soft Dusting Brush, Mini Power Brush, Multi-Angle Folding Adaptor, Crevice Tool, Flexible Long Crevice Tool, and Flexible Extension Hose - more than enough tools for vacuuming even the most demanding stairs, car interiors, boats, yachts, homes, etc.
If You are looking for a premium convertible cordless vacuum cleaner, and Dyson V11 are a slight overkill, then consider Tineco Pure One S12 Plus as the next best thing.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Tineco Pure One S12 Plus Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
7. Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog PowerLine Canister Vacuum Cleaner
The physical dimensions of the unit are (L x W) 19.5 inches (496 mm) x 8.9 inches (227 mm) and it weighs 10.34 pounds (~4.7 kg), with the most weight being the canister itself.
Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog uses disposable AirClean 3D Efficiency GN Type vacuum bags for storing dirt and as the first layer of air filtration, combined with the motor protection air filter (sometimes labeled as 'motor pre-filter) and the HEPA exhaust filter which can be either a Miele HEPA AirClean SF-HA 50 (white) or Miele Active AirClean SF-AA 50 (black) air filter.
Both air filters feature dirt capture level of 99.95%, and 'timestrip' filter replacement indicator. But, Miele Active AirClean SF-AA 50 (black) air filter also comes with a layer of activated charcoal, and is able to filter out pet and common household odors and smells.
For cleaning floors, Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog PowerLine comes with Electro Plus Floorhead SEB 228 and for cleaning elevated surfaces, stairs included, it comes with Upholstery Tool, Crevice Tool, Dusting Brush with Natural Bristles SSP 10, Parquet Twister Floorhead SBB 300-3, and Handheld Mini Turbo Brush STB 101.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog Canister HEPA Vacuum Cleaner Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
8. Shark ION P50 (IC162) Powered Lift-Away Cordless Upright Vacuum
Shark ION P50 (IC162) physical dimensions are (L x W x H) 10.2 X 12.5 X 44.8 inches (~26 x 32 x 114 cm) and it weighs 12 pounds (~5.44 kg) including the battery, but without the accessories. Detachable Lift-Away pod weighs 5.42 pounds (~2.45 kg) and can be easily carried around, allowing the user to freely move around, even up and down the stairs.
Shark ION P50 (IC162) is powered by 8-cell, 28.8 volts lithium-ion battery, providing up to 50 minutes of operation on the single battery charge.
The unit is rated at 260 watts (9 Amps at 28.8 volts) and when the maximum suction mode is used (so-called 'ION BOOST' mode), operating time is up to 18 minutes.
When the 'ION Power' suction mode is used, operating time is longer:
- Upright, Powered Lift-Away (Carpet): up to 28 minutes,
- Upright, Powered Lift-Away (Floor): up to 30 minutes,
- Above the Floor, Lift-Away (Wand or Handle): up to 50 minutes.
Thanks to the Powered Lift-Away technology, Shark ION P50 (IC162) may be quickly and easily converted into:
- cordless upright vacuum cleaner for vacuuming the floors using DuoClean main cleaner head,
- Powered Lift-Away mode is used for vacuuming hard to reach floor areas using DuoClean main cleaner head,
- Lift-Away mode with the cleaning wand is used for vacuuming corners, edges, elevated surfaces, and other hard to reach areas that require longer reach. Cleaning itself is done using one of the available cleaning tools,
- Lift-Away mode with the handle mode is used for vacuuming of the stairs, sofas, beds, and similar areas where the main cleaner head and wand are not required.
Flexible cleaning hose is 6 feet long (~1.83 m) and can be combined with several cleaning tools that come by default, including Duster Crevice Tool, Dusting Brush, and Upholstery Tool.
Shark ION P50 features HEPA air filtration - the unit is able to capture at least 99.99% of 0.3 microns or larger particles.
If You are looking for a cordless unit that sets new standards regarding versatility and being able to reach and clean awkward areas and surfaces, then consider this unit.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Shark ION P50 (IC162) Powered Lift-Away Cordless Upright Vacuum Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
9. Bissell 2087 Pet Hair Eraser Lift-Off Upright Vacuum
Bissell 2087 weighs 17 pounds (~7.7 kg), it is rated at 7 Amps and comes with several Bissell's cleaning technologies, including 2-in-1 vacuum with Lift-Off Technology, SmartSeal Allergen System with Febreze air filter, Tangle-Free Brush Roll, Adjustable Floor Type Setting, Auto Height Adjustment System and similar.
Also, it features a power cord 30 feet (~9.15 m) long and the cleaning hose 8 feet (~2.4 m) long, for a total reach of ~38 feet (~11.5 m).
Additional cleaning tools include 2-in-1 Pet Dusting Brush, LED Lighted Crevice Tool, and Pet Turbo Eraser Tool.
Bissell 2087 is a very versatile upright vacuum cleaner that comes at a rather acceptable price, considering its features and specifications.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Bissell 2087 Pet Hair Eraser Lift-Off Upright Vacuum Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
10. BISSELL SpotClean Pet Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner, Model 2458
Bissell 2458 SpotClean Pet Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner features two tanks, one for cleaning solution and another tank for dirty liquids.
Cleaning is simple: user applies cleaning solution on the cleaned area, rub it in using a cleaning brush, while the dirty liquids are being removed by a strong suction.
For cleaning of the extra dirty messes, users may apply a pre-treat cleaning solution.
Bissell 2458 SpotClean Pet Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner features 22 feet (6.7 m) long power cord and 4 feet (1.2 m) long flexible cleaning hose. The unit is rated at 5.7 Amps and it creates rather strong suction, allowing the user to remove large amount of used cleaning solution - nonetheless, the cleaned area remains moist and requires some time to dry completely.
Bissell 2458 SpotClean doesn't feature water heater, but the use of a warm cleaning solution (up to 140°F, 60°C) is recommended for better cleaning.
When it arrives, Bissell 2458 SpotClean comes with 3 inch (7.6 cm) Tough Stain Tool and Stain Trapper Tool, combined with two trial-size bottles of PET PRO OXY Urine Eliminator cleaning formulas.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Bissell 2458 SpotClean Pet Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
11. Eureka NES510 Flash Lightweight Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Eureka NES510 Flash features physical dimensions of 11.1 x 7.9 x 45 inches (~28.2 x 20 x 114.3 cm) and it weighs just 7.4 pounds (~3.35 kg) in the stick vacuum cleaner configuration.
Power cord is 30 feet (~9.15 m) long ensuring long cleaning reach using just one wall power socket. The main suction motor is rated at 500 watts and creates a good suction (~15 kPa) across its 11 inches (~28 cm) wide cleaning path.
For cleaning of elevated surfaces, stairs included, Eureka NES510 Flash comes with 2-in-1 Upholstery Tool and Crevice Tool.
Eureka NES510 Flash doesn't feature any additional motorized cleaning brush that would be used in the handheld configuration, but due to its compact dimensions and lightweight design it is possible to clean the stairs with the main floor cleaner head - although the smaller motorized brushroll would be better, IMHO, of course.
Eureka NES510 Flash is a 'classic' convertible stick/handheld vacuum, intended as an entry-level main vacuum cleaner in smaller homes and apartments and as a second vacuum cleaner in larger homes and apartments used for quick ('Flash') regular cleanups and for cleaning in emergencies.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Eureka NES510 Flash Lightweight Stick Vacuum Cleaner Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
12. Shark WV201 WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum
It is powered with 3-cells lithium-ion battery, storing enough energy to power the vacuum for about 9 minutes. Shark WV201 is rated 120 W and features excellent suction for the vacuum weighing just 1.4 pounds (~0.64 kg).
For cleaning of various surfaces, Shark WV201 may use its wide mouth main nozzle (no attachments/tools attached), Duster Crevice Tool or Multi-Surface Pet Tool.
Thanks to the dimensions of charging dock with the unit of just (L x W x H) 4.1 x 8.1 x 15.2 inches (~10.4 x 20.6 x 38.6 cm), it can be held almost everywhere and used at the moment notice for cleaning stairs, upholstery, furniture, car interiors, pet beds, etc.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Shark WV201 WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
For Short: A good stair vacuum cleaner is a multi-surface vacuum cleaner that should be able to clean other surfaces as well at home and apartment.
Our list describes many different types of vacuum cleaners that are 'the best' under certain conditions - so, when choosing your 'the best' stair vacuum, choose according to your own needs, requirements, and preferences. And the budget, of course...