How to Vacuum Stairs – the Right Way

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Cleaning stairs can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to vacuuming. Not all vacuum cleaners are created equal and some models work better than others on carpeted stairs. In this blog post we will explain the best way to vacuum your staircase including which tools and attachments are ideal for the job.

With our step-by-step guide you can confidently complete the task no matter what type of flooring or staircase configuration you have in your home. So let's dive in to learning more about vacuuming stairs today.

Vacuuming Stairs: An Overview

Vacuuming stairs can be a tedious and time-consuming task, but it is an important part of maintaining a clean home. Regular vacuuming helps to remove dirt, dust, pet hair, and other debris that accumulates on staircases. With the right tools, it can be done quickly and efficiently.

Benefits of Vacuuming Stairs

Regularly vacuuming your stairs will help keep them looking neat and tidy, whilst also reducing allergens in the air. In addition it prevents dirt from getting ground into carpets or upholstery, which could cause staining over time.

Furthermore, if you have carpeted stairs then regular vacuuming ensures it will last as long as possible. It's an important way to help protect your carpet's fibers from early wear and keep them looking new.

Types of Vacuum Cleaners for Stairs:


Upright vacuum cleaners are ideal for large areas like hallways or living rooms but may not be suitable for smaller spaces such as staircases due to their bulky size and weight. However, they can still do a good job if they have a hose attachment and tools. In fact, we picked the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away upright vacuum as one of the best vacuums for stairs because of its versatility.

Shark NV752 Rotator Powered Lift-Away TruePet Upright Vacuum with HEPA Filter, Large Dust Cup Capacity, LED Headlights, Upholstery Tool, Perfect Pet Power Brush & Crevice Tool, Bordeaux

Upright vacuums without a hose attachment are more difficult to use for cleaning stairs, but it's still possible. A lightweight upright is best because you will need to lift the whole vacuum up and across each step. If done correctly this can be very effective because you are using the brush roll and beater bar on the vacuum to thoroughly clean deep into the carpet fibers.

Upright vacuum on stairs

Using an upright on stairs requires skill and care

Upright vacuum on stair

It's not easy but it can deliver great results

Cordless or Corded Stick

Stick vacuums are better than uprights for stairs because they are lightweight and cordless (although there are a few corded stick models that we love). As a result they’re easy to maneuver around tight corners and good models have powerful suction power combined with strong brushroll agitation for deep cleaning carpets.

They also usually come with a selection of different tools ideal for the job. Our favorite stick is currently the Dyson V15 but the older Dyson cordless models are still great and aren't as expensive.

Dyson V15 on stairs

The mighty Dyson V15 in handheld mode is perfect for stairs - is there anything this vacuum can't handle?


Canister vacuums are also well-suited for cleaning stairs, as they generally have a long hose and variety of attachments. Canister vacuums can be moved around easily and their lightweight design makes them ideal for tight spaces.

Canister vacuum on stairs

Canister vacuums are one of the best options for cleaning stairs due to their compact size


Handheld models are great for quick spot cleaning jobs such as pet hair removal from furniture or car interiors and are also perfect for stairs. However some handhelds may not have enough power to effectively clean larger areas like staircases without multiple passes over each step surface area being required. Check out some of the best handheld vacuums for stairs that we recommend.


Robot vacuum at top of stairs

Robot vacuums are not currently a match for stairs

What about robot vacuums for stairs? Although robot vacuum cleaners have improved greatly over the last 10 years, there is not currently a model that will clean stairs. But we're sure it's only a matter of time until one of the top robot vacuum brands comes up with one. We know that Dyson issued a patent in 2021 for a stair climbing robot so maybe we won't be waiting too long!

Preparing to Vacuum Your Stairs

Safety Considerations When Vacuuming Stairs

Before beginning to vacuum your stairs, it is important to consider safety. Make sure that the area around the stairs is clear of any obstacles or furniture that could be a tripping hazard.

Wear sturdy shoes with good grip and avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry which may get caught in the vacuum cleaner. If you are using an extension cord, make sure it does not create a trip hazard on the stairs.

Gather Necessary Supplies and Tools

You will need a vacuum cleaner with attachments for cleaning tight spaces such as stair corners and crevices. Also, if needed, have an extension cord ready so you can reach all areas of your staircase without having to move the vacuum cleaner too often. If you have stair banisters or skirting up the staircase then we also recommend having a duster or damp cloth to hand.

Follow the Correct Care for your Carpet Type

Before vacuuming carpeted stairs you need to know what type of carpet you have. Some carpet types such as loop carpets are best vacuumed without a beater bar using suction only.

However, most carpet types are best cleaned with a brush roll to create agitation and bring embedded dirt to the surface. But it's best to check this first before you start.

Remove Carpet Stains beforehand

If you have any stubborn stains on your stairs, it is best to take care of these before vacuuming. A carpet cleaner solution or spot remover combined with a damp cloth can help to remove most difficult spots.  Alternatively, you could try a spot carpet cleaner or even try baking soda to remove the stains.

Whichever method you choose, make sure the area is completely dry before continuing with the vacuuming.

Vinyl/ Hardwood/ Laminate Stairs

If you have non-carpeted stairs then preparation is still important. You will need a vacuum cleaner with either a hard floor brush attachment or other tool designed for hard surfaces such as laminate floors.

Consider also that it can be just as effective using a steam mop on laminate instead of a vacuum. Or you could vacuum first and follow with a steam mop for hardwood floors for a truly professional finish!

Vacuum Cleaner Tool Attachments for Stairs

vacuum attachment tools for stairs

Vacuuming stairs can be a daunting task, but the right vacuum cleaner tool attachments can make it much easier. Here are some of the best tools and attachments to use when vacuuming carpeted stairs:

  1. Crevice Tool – The crevice tool is perfect for getting into tight spaces between stair risers and in corners where dirt and dust accumulate. It has a narrow nozzle that fits easily into these areas, making it easy to get rid of stubborn dirt without having to move furniture or other items out of the way.
  2. Upholstery Tool – This attachment is designed specifically for upholstered surfaces like sofas, chairs, mattresses, etc., but it also works great on carpeted stairs too! Its soft bristles help remove pet hair and lint from carpets without damaging them or leaving behind any residue.
  3. Motorized Brush Tool –  This tool uses powerful suction combined with rotating brushes to deep clean carpets quickly and efficiently. This is either the main powerhead on a stick or canister or a miniature version like the  turbo brush tool get with a Shark or Dyson. It’s ideal for removing ground-in dirt from high traffic areas like staircases because its bristles reach down deep into fibers to lift out embedded particles that regular vacuum attachments may miss. Turbine Brush tools are also useful if you have pets as their fur tends to cling onto carpets more than other types of debris do.
  4. Hard Floor Tool - if you have non-carpeted stairs then this tool will be the main one to use if your vacuum has one. Pair this with the crevice tool to get into the corners and crevices.

By using these tools together on your staircase, you'll be able to get rid of all kinds of messes quickly and easily—leaving your home looking spotless in no time at all!

Step-by-Step Guide to Vacuuming Your Stairs

Here is a step-by-step guide to vacuuming your stairs so you can keep them looking their best.

Start at the Top of the Staircase:

carpeted stairs and landing

Before starting to vacuum, make sure that all objects are removed from the steps. If you are using a corded vacuum then you will need to plug it into a wall outlet close to the staircase.

If you have a power outlet at the bottom of the stair case use that so that you don't have to go back up stairs to unplug the vacuum when you are finished. Check that your vacuum cord is long enough to reach all the way to the top of the staircase or you will need to use an extension cord.

To start vacuuming, begin at the top of the staircase and move slowly down each step one at a time. This will ensure that all dirt and debris is picked up on each step before moving onto the next one. 

Make sure to use an attachment such as an upholstery tool for more thorough cleaning in hard-to-reach areas like corners or between spindles on banisters.

Stair Treads and Risers

Follow the same pattern on each step so you don't miss any spots by mistake. Start by vacuuming the the corners and crevices along the back and sides with the crevice tool. Then swap to a wider attachment, either the motorized brush tool, powerhead or upholstery tool and use this to vacuum the center part of the step.

Once you complete the top step you should move to clean the stair riser of the step below. Clean each riser before the step below it as you move down each step. That way any loose dust from the riser not picked up by the vacuum will land on the step below before you clean it.

Move Down The Steps One At A Time

As you move down each stair, take care not to miss any spots by using slow back-and-forth motions with your vacuum cleaner's hose or brush head attachment over every inch of carpeting.

Pay special attention to high traffic areas where dirt tends to accumulate faster than other parts of your home – these may require extra passes with your vacuum cleaner’s attachments for deeper cleaning power. 

Stair landings

If you have mid stair landings then these should be cleaned in the same way as a tread. Vacuum the corners and crevices first then switch to the vacuum's main floorhead to clean the main area of the landing.

Dust as you go

Whilst descending the stair case keep your duster handy to clean the banisters, skirting and trim at each level before vacuuming. By following this sequence you ensure that any dust dislodged will get picked up by the vacuum as you go.

FAQs in Relation to How to Vacuum Stairs

What Is The Most Effective Way To Vacuum Stairs?

The most effective way to vacuum stairs is to work from the top to bottom and of the staircase and use a handheld vacuum cleaner. These vacuums are designed specifically for cleaning hard-to-reach areas like stairs and have powerful suction that can pick up dirt, dust, and debris quickly and easily.

They also come with attachments such as crevice tools or brushes which make it easier to get into tight spaces between the steps. Additionally, they are lightweight and easy to maneuver around the staircase so you don’t have to worry about lugging a bulky machine up each step. 

How Do You Vacuum Stairs Fast?

Vacuuming stairs can be a tedious task, but there are some tips to make it easier and faster. Firstly, use the right vacuum cleaner for the job. Choose one with a long hose and an attachment specifically designed for stairs that will reach all areas of the stairwell. A cordless vacuum will make the job quicker since you won't need to deal with the power cord.

Secondly, move in an back and forth motion instead of side-to-side as this will help you cover more area quickly. Finally, work from top to bottom so that dirt is not spread around while vacuuming. With these tips in mind, you should be able to vacuum your stairs quickly and efficiently. 

When Vacuuming The Stairs Where Should You Start?

When vacuuming stairs, it is best to start at the top and work your way down. This will ensure that all of the dirt and debris from higher steps are collected before moving on to lower ones.

Additionally, starting at the top allows you to use gravity to help move dirt downward as you vacuum each step. Vacuum slowly over each stair in order to get a thorough clean. Make sure not to miss any edges or corners where dust may be hiding. Finally, use the crevice tool to get into any hard-to-reach places.

How Often Should You Vacuum Stairs?

As per our article on how often you should vacuum, it is recommended to vacuum stairs at least once a week. 

Regular vacuuming helps keep the stairs free of dirt, dust, and debris that can accumulate over time. Vacuuming also helps reduce allergens in the home environment by removing pet hair and other particles from carpets or rugs on the stairs. Additionally, regular vacuuming prevents wear and tear on stair carpeting or flooring surfaces which can extend their life span.


By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can make sure that your carpeted stairs are properly cleaned and maintained. With regular vacuuming of your stairs using the correct attachments, you will ensure that they stay looking their best for years to come. 

Last update on 2024-05-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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