The Six Best Vacuum Cleaners for Stairs for 2020

Lugging a 15-pound vacuum cleaner up and down the staircase probably makes vacuuming the most hated chore in America. Hauling around your vacuum cleaner can feel like a big burden for small messes. Thankfully, handheld vacuum cleaners are here to save the day. They’re lightweight, portable, and convenient for cleaning tricky places like carpet stairs or between couch cushions.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how to choose the best vacuum for stairs. Get ready for everyday cleaning to be a breeze.

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2-line Summary

The best vacuum for stairs will be one that’s lightweight, got a long run time, and has a good warranty for value.

Our top two choices are the Shark Rocket for its handheld and corded benefits, and the MOOSOO for its versatility and long run time.


NameTypeRun TimeWeight
1. Shark Rocket Ultra-Light with TruePet Mini Motorized Brush
Editor’s Choice 2019
Corded HandheldN/A (corded)3.7 lbsCHECK PRICE
Editor's Choice
2. MOOSOO Cordless VacuumCordless Stick30-45 minutes3.3 lbsCHECK PRICE
3. BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Lithium-Ion Cordless Hand VacuumCordless Handheld17 minutes4.25 lbsCHECK PRICE
4. Homasy Portable Handheld Vacuum CleanerCordless Handheld30 minutes3.26 lbsCHECK PRICE
5. Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe NV360 Upright VacuumCorded UprightN/A (corded)Canister: 7.5 lbs, Full machine: 12.5 lbsCHECK PRICE
6. BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld VacuumCordless Handheld10-12 minutes2.6 lbsCHECK PRICE


Buying Guide Summary

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What are the types of vacuum cleaners available?

The best vacuum for stairs comes in two main categories: corded vs. cordless and handheld vs. upright vacuums.

Cordless vacuums are perfect for everyday messes and cleaning tough spots like the staircase or tight corners in the car. The main downside is that you need to remember to keep them charged. Corded vacuums are better for covering bigger spaces, and of course – don’t need to be charged to be used.

There are combinations of these four types (corded and handheld, cordless and upright, etc.).

What are the most important specs to look for?

The most important specs to look for include dust bin capacity, battery life, vacuum weight, warranty, and if it comes with additional accessories.

Dust bin and battery life determine how often you need to visit the outlet or trash can while you’re cleaning. Weight and accessories can impact how easy your vacuum is to use and what you can clean. Finally, a robust warranty allows you to buy with confidence.

If you have extra needs like avoiding joint pain or allergy flareups – look for extra features like ergonomic handles and HEPA air filters.



Product Reviews

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A quick note – all the products below work excellently for stairs. Our product titles reflect other awesome benefits that these vacuum cleaners can offer.


Handheld without the Charging Hassle: Shark Rocket Ultra-Light with TruePet Mini Motorized Brush

This Shark Rocket vacuum cleaner offers the handheld features without the handheld drawbacks. This model comes with a power cord, so you’ll never need to worry about a dead vacuum. The Shark Rocket does particularly well with pet hair and carpet stairs.

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  • Benefits of corded vacuum and handheld
  • Easy Empty Dust Cup
  • Can Clean Any Surface: Hardwood, Carpet, Tile, etc.
  • Good for pet hair
  • Lightweight: 3.7 pounds
  • Washable Filter

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  • No built-in way to store or retract cord


Handheld but Corded

This handheld Shark takes all the benefits of handheld vacuums and combines it with the benefit of corded vacuums.  The 15-foot cord is long enough to give you some range and cover the staircase. But, it’s likely not long enough to extend into another room.

Clocking in at just under four pounds, this handheld Shark brings the power and suction without adding on a ton of weight. And unlike cordless models, you won’t need to worry about finishing up before the battery dies.

Comprehensive Accessories & Zero Maintenance Cost

This Shark model comes with a range of accessories, including a crevice tool, dusting brush, TruePet motorized brush, and a stretch hose. Many reviews say that with the Shark, they’re able to clean pet hair, hardwood surfaces, and virtually every other surface in their house.

The filters that come with this handheld Shark are reusable. Every month or so, give them a quick rinse to keep them clean and efficient.




Best for Range of Surfaces: MOOSOO Cordless Vacuum

If you’re looking for a vacuum that can seamlessly transition from hardwood floors to carpet stairs to delicate curtains, look no further than this MOOSOO cordless vacuum cleaner.

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  • Range of Functions & Accessories
  • Lightweight
  • Long-Lasting Battery
  • Powerful Suction
  • Multi-surface Cleaning
  • 45-day money-back guarantee, and 2 Year Warranty
  • HEPA Filter
  • LED Light
  • Can be mounted on the Wall – Vertical Storage

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  • Smaller Bin Capacity (400 ml)
  • HEPA filters need replacing every 2-3 months


Range of Functions & User-Friendly Design

This MOOSOO vacuum cleaner can be arranged in four ways to refresh a variety of surfaces in your home. When cleaning large swaths of floor – place the handheld vacuum onto the stick to roll it around or to use the brush. The flexible head angle lets you reach tight corners and spaces more easily. This vacuum can clean tile, carpet, hardwood, marble, and other floor types.

When it’s time to clean the couch, stairs, or other surfaces, detach the vacuum from the stick to make it a handheld vacuum.

This MOOSOO vacuum cleaner only weighs 3.3 pounds, making it the perfect option for quick and agile cleaning. Finally, this MOOSOO vacuum has LED lights built into the base to help you see dust and clean dark corners.

HEPA Filters

HEPA filters are highly effective at capturing some of the smallest pollutants and allergens in our homes, including dust, pet dander, pollen, and more.  If you’ve got sensitive noses or lungs in your home, you’ll love having a HEPA filter.

The HEPA filters that come with this vacuum cleaner are reusable and recyclable. For best performance, you’ll need to replace these filters every 2-3 months.




Best for Pet Hair: BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Lithium-Ion Cordless Hand Vacuum

This cordless and lightweight Bissell model is a great option for keeping your stairs clean. It also works wonders for cleaning up after your furry friends. Even better, Bissell will donate $5 of your purchase to a pet charity.

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  • Dirt Cup Capacity: 0.7 Liters
  • Easy-Empty Dirt Bin
  • Includes Range of Accessories
  • Triple Level Filtration
  • Bissell donates to pet organization with purchase
  • Lithium-Ion Battery

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  • No battery indicator


Deep Clean Accessories

This Bissell comes with several tools to support deep cleaning of your home. The motorized brush tool is designed to clean carpeted floors and stairs, as well as picking up pet hair. The Upholstery tool helps you reach and clean tall curtains, blinds, and other upholstery. And finally, the crevice tool helps you clean tough to reach spaces in your car, between couch cushions, and other tough places.

If you need to pick up larger debris like spilled cereal or pet food – you can remove the accessories to suck up bigger spills.

Lightweight & Cordless

This vacuum makes cleaning a breeze. At just 3.1 pounds, it’s easy to move around the house with this Bissell vacuum. Since there’s no cord, you won’t need to search for an outlet in each new room you clean.

When you’re finished, simply remove the filter and dump the canister contents into the bin. This vacuum has triple-filtration and can be refreshed by rinsing it under the sink.




Best for Wet-Dry Messes: Homasy Portable Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

If your home regularly deals with both wet and dry messes, check out this Homasy vacuum cleaner. It’s lightweight, comes with a range of attachments, and boasts a quick charge time. Its ability to clean both wet and dry means that mess doesn’t stand a chance.

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  • Cordless Vacuum
  • Quick Charge Time
  • Several Accessories
  • Confidence-Boosting Warranty & Customer Service
  • Wet & Dry Capability
  • Ergonomic Design
  • Lithium-Ion Battery

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  • Some reviews say crevice tool is too short


Wet-Dry Accessories & Wrist-Friendly Design

This Homasy vacuum cleaner comes with three versatile attachments. The rubber jar attachment is designed to capture up to 100 ml of wet spills and messes. The brush attachment helps clean dust, carpet, and even keyboards. The crevice tool can clean tight spaces like couch cushions, between car seats, and other hard to reach places.

Finally – Homasy claims that the angle of their handle (65 degrees) is ergonomically optimal for wrist comfort. This feature might be worth it if you suffer from arthritis or other joint pain.

Quick Charge & Long Use

A common objection to handheld vacuums is their long charge time and short lifespan. This Homasy only takes 3-4 hours to charge and has one of the longest lifespans topping out at 30 minutes.

This Homasy vacuum is also equipped with temperature, voltage, current, and short circuit protection to ensure the charging process is safe.

Confidence-Boosting Warranty & Customer Service

This Homasy vacuum has been tested to run for at least 500 times with its lifetime up to five years. They also promise a three-year ‘worry-free’ after-sale service. Homasy also has a 24-hour online service to help address any questions or concerns you might have with your device.




Best Vacuum for Big Homes: Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe NV360 Upright Vacuum

This Shark Navigator vacuum cleaner is the perfect solution for replacing your standard upright vacuum with something a bit more versatile and portable.

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  • Can be Upright or Handheld
  • HEPA Filter
  • Swivel Steering
  • Large Bin Capacity
  • Easy to Empty Dust Cup
  • Comes with Two Accessories
  • Could function as Commercial Vacuum as well

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  • Heavier than other options


Upright or Handheld

If you like the set up of an upright vacuum but wish stairs and tight spaces were easier – the Shark Navigator strikes the balance. The full unit weighs 12.5 pounds, and the canister alone weighs 7.5 pounds.

When you’d like to convert the vacuum to handheld, simply press button to release the canister. When you’re finished, the canister clicks back into the main machine. The vacuum still needs to be plugged in while handheld, but the 25-foot cord should help you reach the top of the stairs without finding a new outlet.

The upholstery tool and crevice tool help ensure that regardless of which vacuum mode you use, you’re left with sparkling clean results.

Large Bin Capacity & HEPA Filter

Although the canister is heavier than other handheld vacuums on our list – it comes with a few key benefits.

The Shark Lift-Away has a HEPA filter, meaning that the vacuum effectively traps dust and other allergens. This vacuum also has a large capacity, so you can go around a few times before needing to dump.

When you’re ready to empty it, it has an easy-empty dust cup. Simply position the dust cup over your bin and press the release button. The dust bin will open from the bottom, reducing your interaction with the dirt and dust you’ve collected.




For Everyday Quick Cleanups: BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld Vacuum

If you already own a vacuum cleaner but want something to ease the burden of everyday messes – go with this Black + Decker Dustbuster. It’s lightweight, easy to clean, and has a quick charge time. Many reviews said it works great on carpet stairs, furniture, and other upholstery.

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  • Built-in Accessories
  • Washable Dirt Bowl
  • 2 Year Limited Warranty
  • Charging Indicator
  • Ultra-Lightweight
  • Wet Dry Vac
  • Lithium-Ion Battery

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  • Some reviews said it was loud


Built-in Accessories

The unspoken downside of having a lot of accessories is that – well, they’re easy to lose. This Black + Decker Dustbuster prevented this possibility by building their accessories into their vacuum.

This vacuum comes with a crevice tool that extends and retracts from the front. This extension helps you bend over less when cleaning the stairs. It also comes with a brush tool that can be rotated out from the front.

Lightweight and Easy to Use

This Black + Decker Dustbuster is great for everyday messes. At just 2.6 pounds, it’s one of the lightest handheld vacuums on our list by almost a pound. Many reviews compliment the curved and closed handle, saying it was comfortable to hold.

The front of the vacuum pops off and opens the dirt bowl. Once you dump the dirt bowl into your bin, the bowl can be rinsed and refreshed in your kitchen sink.

This vacuum recharges in around 4 hours and has a battery light indicator. When running, it lasts for 10-12 minutes. For some, this is too short a run time. However, we think that the other benefits this vacuum has to offer balances this out.




Buying Guide

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How Do I Choose Between Vacuum Cleaners?

There’s a ton of options available for home vacuum cleaners. To choose the best vacuum cleaner for you, think about your needs.

For example, the best vacuum for stairs and tight spaces will probably be small and lightweight. If you have a pet who sheds, look at vacuums that specialize in handling pet hair. If you have limited mobility or joint pain – choose one that has versatile modes and doesn’t require a lot of bending over.

Finally, if you expect you’ll need to clean both wet and dry messes, look for a vacuum that can handle dust debris and wet spills.


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What Are the Types of Vacuum Cleaners Available?

There are a few main design features that distinguish vacuum cleaners from each other:

  • Corded or Cordless
  • Handheld, or Combo (Handless + Upright or Stick Vacuum)

Corded or Cordless

When looking at the best vacuums for stairs, a big differentiator is if the vacuum has a cord. There are many cordless options that have the benefit of being smaller, lightweight, and more portable. You’ll also reduce your risk of tripping over a cord on the stairs. Common objections to cordless vacuums are their short battery life and small dust bin sizes.

Corded vacuums are usually heavier and bulkier than their cordless counterparts. However, it’s nice not having to remember to keep it charged, and they usually have larger dust bin capacities.

Regardless of which option you choose, both should come with a few accessories. The most common tools include brushes, crevice tools, and hoses. These can help your vacuum clean car seats, stairs, pet hair, upholstery, and other surfaces.

Handheld or Combo (Upright or Stick Vacuum)

Handheld vacuums are exactly that – vacuums that you can hold. They’re usually cordless, meaning they’ve got all the same benefits. One downside to strictly handheld vacuums is that you need to do a lot of bending over to clean hard to reach spaces. If you’ve got back problems or want to clean large spaces – a strictly handheld machine might not be your best option.

Combo vacuums, on the other hand, make it easy to have the benefits of a handheld vacuum without committing to holding it. When you’re ready to clean the floor or other large surfaces, you can place the handheld vacuum into the main machine or onto a stick. Now it can be rolled around like a normal upright vacuum.  If you think you’d prefer this versatility – go with this combo option.


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What specs should I look for in a stair-friendly vacuum cleaner?

The most important specs to look for include dust bin capacity, battery life, vacuum weight, warranty, and if it comes with additional accessories. You can also look for extra features like HEPA filters.

1. Dust Bin Capacity

Most vacuums that are good at cleaning stairs are bagless. This feature can be handy since you don’t need to worry about replacing vacuum bags. The downside is canisters may put you in some contact with dust when emptying.

Handheld and portable vacuums tend to have a smaller capacity than standard vacuum cleaners. The standard capacity for these types of vacuums are around 0.5 to 1 liter. For comparison, standard upright vacuums can usually hold around 1-3 liters.

If you know you’ll have a lot of debris to clean up (like pet hair), you’ll need to balance your preferred weight with your desired capacity – since larger capacity vacuums tend to be heavier.

2. Battery Life: Charge Time & Use

Many models of stair-friendly vacuum cleaners are cordless or can detach from the main machine. This feature leaves them running on battery life.

The two things to consider about battery life include charge time and use time. Charge time is how long it takes for the vacuum to go from dead to fully charged. Use time is how long you can use it continuously before it runs out of battery and needs charging.

You should look for charge times in the range of 4-24 hours. Typical use time is anywhere from 10-45 minutes. For most people, the middle of that range is plenty of time to clean stairs and other tough to clean spots.

4. Vacuum Cleaner Weight

No matter what vacuum you choose – you’ll need to go up and down the stairs. Check the weight of the vacuum to ensure you’ll be comfortable using it on the stairs and around the house. The best vacuum for stairs typically weighs anywhere from three to eight pounds.

5. Warranty

You should always compare the price against warranty to ensure you’ll get good value for your purchase. A good warranty for vacuums is anywhere from 1 to 5 years, depending on the brand and model.

6. Additional Accessories

Some handheld vacuums come with accessories like brushes, crevice tools, and specific hoses for cleaning upholstery and crevices. These accessories come especially in handy if you have pets, tight corners to clean, or curtains to refresh.

Overall, these accessories make your vacuum cleaner more versatile and able to handle messes across the whole home.

7. HEPA Filter

HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. HEPA filters effectively capture pet dander, pollen, dust mites, mold, tobacco smoke, and more. If you or your family are sensitive to airborne allergens, a vacuum with a HEPA filter is an especially worthwhile investment.


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FAQ: Best Vacuum Cleaner for Stairs

Question: Can You Use a Cordless Vacuum Cleaner While It’s Charging? 

Answer: There may be models that can, but typically the answer is no. Some models may come with two batteries you can swap out, but these are rare. If this is important to you, we’d recommend you specifically look for this feature when purchasing a vacuum.

Question: Can I Keep My Vacuum Cleaner Plugged In?

Answer: Like most appliances, it’s advised to unplug when not in use. However, lithium-ion batteries can stay plugged in without developing a memory. Nickle batteries develop a memory, so it’s not recommended that they stay plugged in.

If you’re concerned with battery life over time, look for vacuums that have lithium-ion batteries.


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Choosing the best vacuum for stairs can feel overwhelming at first. In summary, our top three picks would be the Shark Rocket, the MOOSOO Cordless, and the Homasy handheld.

The Shark Rocket is our pick for the best handheld vacuum for stairs. Its cord lets you balance the need for easy portability without the hassle of charging. With a 15-foot cord, you can quickly clean your staircase and other surfaces without feeling rushed by battery-life. It’s got four accessories that help ensure you can tackle any mess effortlessly.

The MOOSOO cordless also strikes a practical balance. With it’s four different arrangements, you can easily transition from cleaning the stairs to cleaning large living room floors. It’s stick-design keeps it compact and prevents you from unnecessarily bending over. The 30-minute run time is the longest for cordless options on our list and gives you plenty of time to do other cleaning.

Finally, for a purely handheld and cordless option, we’d recommend the Homasy handheld. It can clean both wet and dry messes and includes three other specialized accessories. It rivals the MOOSOO for long run-time but has a longer warranty.

Regardless of which model you choose, owning the best vacuum for stairs will cleaning around the house a whole lot easier.



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