Stairs present a unique set of challenges for vacuum cleaners. The crevice where the tread meets the riser provides a safe haven for dust, dirt, dander, and other allergens to collect. But your full-size machine may be too unwieldy to successfully clean this area of your home. It may be too heavy to carry comfortably up and down the stairs, or it may be too large to maneuver around the small surface of a step. The good news is, there are a number of pet hair vacuums that deliver great performance on staircases! We’ve collected some of the best-rated models and examined which models prove to be the best at tackling cleaning on the stairs.
Choosing the Best Vacuum for Stairs
There are a few important qualities of models that are suited to clean stairs. They should be lightweight and compact, to better negotiate up and down the steps. They should also have a long power cord (or no cord at all), so you can clean the whole staircase without having to change sockets. Handheld models work great on stairs and make a good option if you already have a full-size machine. Alternatively, many stick models are light and small enough that they can easily be maneuvered on the stairs. When you choose a handheld model, the most significant consideration to keep in mind is the battery life of the vacuum. Will the charge hold long enough for you to get all the stairs done?
Another option is “lift-away” models, which combine benefits from both categories. Lift-away models are full-size machines with a detachable canister. The portable canister mode is useful for cleaning stairs and above-floor areas, while the full size is better for covering the floor space of large rooms. You don’t have to worry too much about the size of the canister for these either because the stairs have a much smaller surface area than other areas of the home. However, you will want to make sure you have a long hose to work with.
Having variety when it comes to the attachments the vacuum offers is also great. For example, a crevice tool or even a turbo brush can be used to help increase the total surface cleaning area and makes it easier to reach all the corners and crevices of the stairs. We picked a favorite from each group and weighed their strengths against their weakness. Here are our favorite vacuums for staircases on the market right now!
Quick Comparison: Best Vacuum for Stairs
1. Shark Rocket HV292
- Portable and ultra-lightweight. Less than 4 pounds in total
- True Pet Motorized Brush for handheld deep cleaning
- Easy-to-empty dust cup. No bag needed and empties with the touch of a button.
- 15-foot-long power cord You never have to recharge, while giving you freedom to clean the whole...
- Powerful cleaning from start to finish.Amperage (amps):3.4
Shark is well-known for their inexpensive machines, many of which deliver comparable performance to higher-end machines—at a fraction of the cost. The Shark Rocket HV292 is a powerful corded handheld that includes attachments for pet hair. Despite its powerful performance, however, the HV292 remains easy to handle, standing out even among other handhelds for its lighter weight.
It includes a flexible hose attachment to reach more difficult spots, as well as a dusting brush and 12-inch crevice tool. The HV292 also includes a motorized brush for picking up pet hair and deep cleaning surfaces like carpets, upholstery, and curtains. The power cord for this model is 15 feet long. The HV292 is bagless, and emptying it is simply a matter of removing the dust cup and discarding the contents. The washable filter for the HV292 is reusable after rinsing.
The Shark Rocket HV292 offers suction power that gives many upright models a run for their money. Users say that this handheld makes short work of pet hair on the stairs and removes a respectable amount of dust and dirt in the process. First, this thing is awesome for cleaning stairs. We have carpeted stairs, and the regular vacuum is far too clumsy for the job. I highly recommend it for this alone. We have hardwood downstairs, and we use this a lot in place of a dustpan. You just grab this little guy and suck it all up. The hose attachment works great for tight space.
The HV292 also does a great job on upholstery, car interiors, mattresses, and other fabric surfaces. This model isn’t marketed specifically for pet hair, but the motorized pet hair brush attachment performs just as well as more expensive “pet vacuums.” I am impressed with the TruePet motorized brush. It’s the best brush of this type I’ve ever used. I own and have owned some that have a similar brush, but they don’t pick up as much dirt as the Shark Rocket motorized brush does. Not only does it do a great job of picking up dirt, but it also did a great job of getting the pet hair off my furniture, too.
With a lightweight and comfortable grip, the HV292 shines in portability and maneuverability. Many reviewers purchased this one specifically for their staircase, and report that it does indeed manage to clean out all those hard-to-reach spaces.
A common source of frustration among many users is the length of the power cord. Many find it to be too short, and the body of it doesn’t provide a place to store the wrapped cable. The dust cup presented another design flaw for many. Since it’s not fully removable, users are forced to carry the whole machine over to the trash to empty it. These trips can add up with the small capacity of handheld machines.
Despite some minor design flaws, the Shark Rocket HV292 is an excellent option for homeowners looking to tackle dust, dirt and pet hair on their staircase. It offers a surprising amount of power for a handheld model, while still managing to remain lightweight and maneuverable. Though it’s not marketed solely as a pet hair cleaner, it includes an attachment that makes short work of pet hair on carpeted stairs, upholstery, and other fabric surfaces.
2. Dyson V8 Absolute
- Cord free. Hassle free. Powerful suction,Refer USER MANUAL for instructions
- Up to 40 minute's run time when using a non motorized tool. Suction power (MAX mode) : 115 AW
- Up to 30 minutes of fade free power with the Soft roller cleaner head
- Direct drive cleaner head. Up to 8 minutes of fade free power (in MAX mode). Drives stiff nylon bristles into carpets to capture deep down dirt
- Whole machine HEPA filtration captures allergens and expels cleaner air than the air you breathe. Filtration: Washable lifetime filter
If you’re looking for a machine that does well both on the stairs and the floor, “stick” models stand somewhere in the middle between handheld and full-size vacuum cleaners. They’re lightweight and easy to manage, but still, allow you to clean the floor without bending. Our favorite stick model for the stairs is the Dyson V6, a bagless and cordless model that can also be converted into a handheld by removing the wand. The V6 has an eye-catching and futuristic design, with the body of it—the machinery and the dust bin—held in the grip of your hand.
It’s a very lightweight, balanced and ergonomic machine, weighing only 4.6 pounds (without attachments). To preserve the battery life, the V6 features a trigger control to switch it on or off. The battery of it is charged via a wall-mounted charger, which also doubles as storage when not in use. The V6 has about 20 minutes of battery life on its normal setting, and about 6 minutes on maximum power. The V6 has a motorized cleaner head compatible with all floor types. The dust bin can be hygienically emptied over the trash with the push of a button.
Dyson has released an updated model of the V6, the V6 Absolute, and dropped the price of the original model by about $200. Though the original model lacks some of the bells and whistles of its successor, both models are nearly equal in cleaning power. Like many cordless stick models, the Dyson V6 is ideal for spot cleaning. Since they have relatively short battery lives, stick models are generally designed to tackle small, specific areas like the stairs, a car, or a spill.
In consumer tests, the V6 consistently delivers powerful suction and strong performance. Even though it doesn’t have a special pet attachment, users say the V6 does a great job at picking up pet hair. The “max power” feature is great for dealing with stubborn dirt, dander, and pet hair. This cordless vac is perfect for pet owners! It pulls up the hair from my three cats just fine….it does as well as my full-sized machine. It also does a good job with kitty litter, kibble, and “cat dirt” brought in from outside (leaves, burrs, etc.). It’s very convenient for keeping the cat room clean on a daily basis as well as my kitchen, and to have the ease of simply emptying the small canister when it fills up.
The Dyson V6’s lightweight design and solid balance make it a good choice for cleaning stairs. It excels at any height, whether you’re cleaning the floor, shelving, or ceiling. Its design also makes it a good choice for cleaning challenging spots beneath sofas or around furniture. As one buyer noted, “Once you get rid of all the dirt that your previous vacuums left behind, you might just find that this fairly lightweight, easy-to-control-with-one-hand stick machine is a joy to use in conjunction with your big upright or canister vacuum. I use this in my kitchen, hallways, utility room, and bathrooms. I also use it in all the other rooms to get under furniture and tight places. I also use it with its attachments—much easier than using the attachments on my big vacuum.”
The short battery life proved frustrating for many users. Though the 20 minutes of charge is fairly average for stick models, some reviewers complained that the V6 didn’t have the stamina for the tasks they purchased it for. Unless you live in a small apartment, the V6 will not have enough charge to clean an entire room. It’s designed to be a supplement to a primary model and isn’t a substitute for a full-sized corded model.
The Dyson V6 makes a great secondary machine and is especially well-suited for the stairs. Its lightweight body and balanced build make it perfect for navigating tricky areas like staircases, cars, and the underside of furniture. The V6 stands out among vacuums in its class in terms of performance, beating out similar models in consumer tests. For tackling quick jobs, the Dyson V6 is one of the very best!
3. Shark Navigator Lift-Away
- Dust cup capacity 2.2 quarts; Lift away; Press a button to lift the canister away and easily clean...
- Anti-allergen complete seal technology plus a HEPA filter; Traps 99.9 percent of dust and allergens...
- Powerful and lightweight; Portable and versatile at 13.7 pounds
- Brush roll shutoff; Deep carpet and gentle bare floor cleaning
- Hard floor hero attachment not included
The other two models we reviewed here aren’t suited to replacing a standard, full-size vacuum. Instead, they’re ideal for homeowners who already own a primary vacuum and are looking for a backup for cleaning difficult areas (like staircases). For homeowners who are looking for a full-size vacuum that is also great for cleaning stairs, we strongly recommend the Shark Navigator Lift-Away. This highly popular pet vacuum is a favorite for its low price, versatility, and solid performance.
Lift-away models are built like traditional upright models but feature a removable canister. When the canister is locked to the body of the vacuum, it functions the same as a standard upright model and can be used to clean floors without bending over. When the canister is removed, however, the vacuum converts into a more portable machine that can be used to clean tough-to-reach areas like cars, upholstery, and stairs. The Navigator Lift-Away is an inexpensive, bagless vacuum that features Shark’s “Never Lose Suction” technology, which is designed to pull dirt from the filter. This increases the lifespan of the vacuum and maintains strong suction over time.
Shark includes an array of attachments with this vacuum, including the motorized Pet Hair Power Brush for picking up pet hair. There’s also an 8-inch crevice tool, a dusting brush, and the Dust-Away Hard Floor attachment—a tool that uses suction and a microfiber pad to attract smaller particles. The Navigator is an allergy-friendly vacuum, with HEPA filtration to capture and retain allergens, instead of releasing them into the air.
The Navigator Lift-Away is a strong example of a versatile and high-performance lift-away vacuum, sold at a very affordable price. Owners say the Navigator delivers impressive suction for a vacuum with such a low price tag. For the money, it’s a bargain without compromise. Wife and I love the detachable canister for cleaning our carpeted stairs. The hardwood and tile floor attachment works great on bare floors. The cleaning performance is 10 out of 10.
The lift-away canister is the selling point of this vacuum, and most reviewers were big fans of this feature. The high-capacity canister is lightweight, easy-to-use and makes short work of cleaning the steps. It’s also useful for cleaning higher-up areas and the interior of cars. Removing the lift-away canister is a breeze, and again it is incredibly light. My wife used the carpet attachment that comes with the lift-away for staircase use and had the whole thing done in about 15 minutes.
The motorized pet tool is a useful feature. Many owners reported that this vacuum managed to remove more dust, dander, and pet hair than other models they have owned. The pet tool is great at removing pet hair from fabric surfaces like carpet, car interiors, and upholstery. I have four cats and a dog, so picking up pet hair is a NEEDED function for a vacuum. The suction from this vacuum picked up so much more hair than I ever knew was in my carpet! And I vacuum daily. I love that you can turn the vacuum portable. I cleaned the stairs today and was pleased how easy it was to hold. The pet cleaning attachment is really nice since you can rotate the direction of the brush roll to clean the tops and sides of the stairs.
For those who suffer from allergies, the HEPA filter system on the Navigator promises significant relief. Shark claims that the filtration system captures 99 percent of allergens and owners with allergies report an improvement in air quality since purchasing this vacuum. I needed something that would help with my allergies, and that would be lightweight enough to carry upstairs (the Hoover was incredibly heavy). This seemed like the one. It is amazing to see what it picks up….It is so easy to maneuver around furniture and under things. The sealed system is very nice. My allergies love it for this feature.
One common complaint reveals a design flaw in this vacuum: the lift-away feature, while useful, makes the Navigator Lift-Away a bit top-heavy. When using the wand or attachments in upright mode, it’s easy for the vacuum to tip over. The short length of the wand hose was also problematic for a number of users, particularly when using the lift-away canister. The short hose makes it so that users must keep the canister in hand—if you set it down while vacuuming, even a slight tug will cause it to fall over.
The Shark Navigator Lift-Away is a high-performance vacuum that’s a great option for cleaning stairs and the floor! Coupled with strong suction and a useful motorized pet tool, this vacuum also makes removing pet hair from fabric a breeze. The closed filtration and HEPA filter are both great features for pet owners with allergies. Some minor design flaws are to be expected in this price bracket, but in terms of value for the money, the Navigator Lift-Away is one of the best options on the market!
4. Eureka Easy Clean
- Portable, lightweight handheld vacuum for home, car or garage; Weighs less than 5 pounds
- Motorized brush with on/off switch for thorough cleaning of carpets, Integrated filter with easy to...
- 20-foot cord gives extended reach to clean an entire room, set of stairs or a vehicle in the...
- Features two motors, one for the brush and one for suction, to ensure a thorough clean
- 1 Year manufacturer warranty and money-back guarantee
This is another great handheld vacuum for stairs. It weighs just under seven pounds and features dual brushes. One brush provides powerful suction, and the other brush is revolving so it can pick up more dirt and debris. One of the drawbacks reported for this handheld is the fact that it is a corded vacuum, but others may actually see this as an advantage because the cord is 20-feet long and it allows you to use the vacuum for as long as you need it – without having to worry about the battery life of a cordless vacuum cleaner.
5. Hoover Air Cordless 20v
- Simply Swap, Charge & Go - Our family of Lithium Life powered products use one Lithium Life battery...
- Fade-Free Battery Technology delivers fade-free power for the entire life of the battery
- Lightweight design weighs less than 4 lbs. so you can go from room-to-room with ease
- Powered Turbo Tool powerfully picks up hair on furniture and stairs. Dirt cup capacity: 0.7 Liters
- Reusable Easy Rinse Filter can be cleaned under running water for long-lasting use
This is a much smaller handheld vacuum cleaner, but it features fade-free battery technology. Its lightweight design comes in at just under four pounds so you can easily carry it up and down the stairs as you clean. Its powerful suction is also enough to grab that stubborn pet hair that settles on the stairs as well. One of the biggest drawbacks is the difficulty some may have when trying to reattach the top portion after emptying the dust cup. You have to make sure that the filter is placed back in properly before it will close.
6. Bissell Zing Bagged Canister Vacuum
- Every BISSELL purchase helps save pets. BISSELL proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its...
- Dirt cup capacity - 2 liters bag capacity. Portable, Multi-Surface Cleaning
- Powerful suction gets the dirt high and low--great for bare floors, rugs and above-floor cleaning
- Easily go from cleaning carpets to hard floors with the flip of a switch
- Automatic cord rewind for quick cord storage with the push of a button
This is a canister vacuum but is still considered lightweight at just under eight pounds. Its lighter weight makes it the ideal vacuum to use on the stairs. The power cord is 17-feet long so you can better maneuver the stairs without having to worry about outlets in the middle of cleaning. It also features a large floor brush as well as a smaller suction brush – both of which are ideal for carpet and hard surfaces. It is also currently named as Amazon’s Choice.
One of the biggest reported downfalls of this vacuum cleaner was that the telescoping extenders on the wand do not click or lock into place. Several users found them pulling apart because of the strong suction power this device offers. One of the biggest reported downfalls of this vacuum cleaner was that the telescoping extenders on the wand do not click or lock into place. Several users found them pulling apart because of the strong suction power this device offers.
Which Stair Vacuum is Right For You?
There are lots of lightweight, maneuverable vacuums that deliver excellent cleaning performance on the stairs. The best model for you depends on your needs as a homeowner. If you already have a primary vacuum you like, you should consider purchasing a handheld model. We like the Shark Rocket HV292, a powerful corded model that’s designed to suck up lots of pet hair. It’s a lightweight and maneuverable vacuum with strong suction—everything you need in a good stair vacuum.
Stick vacuums are another good option if you’re looking for a secondary vacuum for your stair cleaning chore. They retain all the portability of handheld vacuums while saving you the trouble of bending down to vacuum. Our top pick is the Dyson V6. It’s one of the highest-performing models among stick vacuums, and the recent price drop makes this vacuum even more attractive. If you’re looking for a go-to vacuum that does well on the floor and the stairs, we strongly recommend the Shark Navigator Lift-Away. This highly affordable lift-away vacuum offers performance and versatility that surpasses its low price point.
However, for those quick clean-up jobs, consider the first two of three machines in the runner up category. They are small and extremely portable. Pick it up, tackle the mess, and put it back on its charging base for next time. No need to pull out a big machine to do a small touch up job.