Best Vacuum Cleaner For Stairs

how to hoover stairs

Stairs can often be one of the most fiddly parts of the house to hoover. The best vacuum cleaners for stairs make it easy to get to all the stairs and they have the right accessory tools to be able to thoroughly clean them all quickly.

When you buy a vacuum cleaner it’s important to find one that will do a great job of cleaning your entire home, not just the floor.

Many vacuum cleaners now convert into handheld hoovers making it super easy to get to each and every stair without having to drag the whole hoover with you.

Many of us will have experienced at some time or other having to bring the hoover to the top of the stairs so you can get to the stair at the top or maybe even tried balancing the hoover on the stairs so you can reach all of them.

With full-size vacuum cleaners that convert to handheld hoovers with just one click, those days are gone and if you go for one of those you also save money on not having to buy a separate handheld to use for all the small spills and mess that you don’t want to get the big hoover out for.

These are some of the key things to check to ensure you get the best vacuum cleaner for stairs for your specific needs:

Cord Length

Cordless hoovers are all the rage these days but you can get some really low-cost corded hoovers that are a lot cheaper than their cordless equivalents.

The only downside is that you need to plug them into the wall so check that the cord is long enough to get you up and down the stairs especially if you can lift away the main unit from the hoover like on some Shark models.

Accessory tools

A great accessory for cleaning stairs is the pet tool that comes with a lot of hoovers but you normally have to buy it as an addition to the base model.

They are an excellent addition if you have pets but they are also really good for stairs as well because they act like a mini full-size hoover on your stairs and sometimes they come with a motorised brush as well so the brush spins through the carpet fibre to make sure nothing gets left behind.

Suction power

Probably the most important thing but sometimes it gets overlooked, it doesn’t matter how good everything else is, if your hoover doesn’t have good suction then it won’t do a very good job on your stairs.

If you opt for a corded hoover you will get good continuous suction power for less and if you go for a cordless you’ll need to spend a lot to get the same suction power as an average corded vacuum cleaner.


This is only relevant if you go for a cordless and as a general rule, the more you spend the better the battery will be both in terms of suction power and life.


You don’t want to be lugging the hoover up and down the stairs if it weighs a ton and there are plenty in our recommendations that are very effective and very light.

This article looks specifically at lighter ones:

Best lightweight vacuum cleaner

Ease of Use

It’s not really great when you have loads of buttons and switches for all sorts of different things and with hoovers, the principle of “less is more” is important for making it easy to do the weekly clean without faffing about with loads of technology.

These are the best vacuum cleaners in the UK for stairs:

Shark IZ300 & IZ320 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

First of all it’s cordless so you don’t need to worry about cables getting wrapped around you or plugging anything in making it nice and easy to get up and down the stairs.

With one click it transforms into a handheld hoover and then just click in the crevice tool or the motorised pet tool (this is an optional extra but well worth it if you have cats or dogs in your home) and you get the same full power with the handheld as you do with the full-length hoover but you don’t need to drag anything up and down the stairs, just click it back in when you are done with the stairs.

This range also has 50% more power than the previous year’s model so it will easily deal with all the dust dirt that accumulates in the high footfall area of stairs



See full review of the Shark IZ300 & IZ320 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner


Shark AZ910 & AZ950 Corded Upright Vacuum Cleaner

This is a great all-rounder and Shark make it particularly easy to clean stairs and all above-floor surfaces with their “lift away” feature that allows you literally remove and pick up the central part of the hoover with a one-button release.

Attach one of the accessory tools and you get the same suction power on the stairs as you do on the floor but it’s also extremely easy to manoeuvre.

Here is a short video from Shark showing how powered lift away works:

Because this is a corded model you get continuous strong suction for as long as you want to hoover without having to worry about the battery running out and the 8-metre cord means you won’t have to change the socket very often.

It cleans as well on hard flooring as it does on carpet thanks to the duo clean technology that has both a soft and a hard brush roller on the main floorhead.

It also comes with a large or extra-large waste container depending on the model you choose and the filtration system is excellent retaining over 99% of the dust is sucks up making this a good choice for anyone that has a dust allergy.



See the full review of the Shark AZ910 & AZ950 corded upright vacuum cleaner


Vax Airlift Steerable Upright Vacuum Cleaner

All of the Shark’s on this list of recommendations are excellent vacuum cleaners but not everyone wants to spend hundreds of pounds on a hoover.

This is the next best thing, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg and you still get the benefit of a trusted brand name in Vax.

It is corded so you don’t get the convenience of a cordless hoover but at this price level you won’t get anything cordless that’s very good but this provides really strong suction and a super long 10-metre cord.

It comes with a pet accessory tool as standard and when you combine that with the lift-away function that allows you to remove the central part of the hoover away from the main unit you have a vacuum cleaner that is perfect for stairs and all the hard to get to parts of your home.

The accessory tools clip onto the side of the hoover for easy access and it has a large 1.5-litre waste container.

This can be considered a budget product for the features and specification but it delivers premium price performance.



See the full review of the Vax Airlift Steerable upright vacuum cleaner


Shark HZ400UKT Corded Stick Vacuum Cleaner

Stick vacuum cleaners are very popular and are the type produced by Dyson with the long thin central wand giving it the “stick” name. Dyson stick vacuums are cordless and they cost a very large amount of money so going for a corded version like this Shark is a good alternative if you don’t want to concern yourself over the battery dying and you want to save money.

This one will easily convert into a powerful handheld and the pet tool will make short work of any and all hair on stairs and throughout your home.

It also has a soft roller and a brush roller on the main floorhead so it will clean both hard floors and carpet equally as well.

The anti-hair wrap feature makes sure that no matter how much pet hair and long human hair you need to pick up, it won’t get tangled in the brush ever again.



See the full review of the Shark HZ400UKT corded stick vacuum cleaner


Budget Corded Stick Upright Vacuum Cleaner

A lot of hoovers are made to accommodate larger, busy households that accumulate a lot of dust and dirt. But what if you don’t have children or pets and you live in a smaller home?

Millions of people live in flats and perhaps there isn’t much storage space and no children making a great big mess all the time and there is simply no need for a great big all singing all dancing vacuum cleaner.

Maybe you are elderly and you want something lightweight but it still has good enough suction to get the job done.

This low-cost hoover is perfect for smaller homes but it still has powerful suction to deal with all hard flooring and short pile carpet.

You get a 10-metre cord so you won’t be changing the socket more than a few times during a whole clean, it comes with a good suite of accessories, weighs just 1.5kg and comes with a base to store it away neatly.


See the full review of the budget corded stick upright vacuum cleaner


Shark ICZ160 & ICZ300 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

This vacuum cleaner has all of the best things that Shark has to offer with the convenience of cordless. You’ll get around 20 minutes out of the battery if you use it on full power but if you vary the power settings then you can get up to 50 minutes with the ICZ160 and 60 minutes with the ICZ300

The suction is very powerful so you won’t need to keep it on full power the whole time so expect 20-30 minutes of use out of one battery charge.

You get a duo clean floorhead with a brush roller and a soft roller for cleaning both hard floors and carpet at the same time, powered lift away for easy cleaning of the stairs and other surfaces away from the floor and the ICZ300 comes with “powerfins” that get right down to the bottom of your carpet for the Sharks best clean.

It comes with anti-hair wrap so no hair gets stuck in the brush and a pet tool if you choose one ensures that no hair is ever left behind.





See full review of the Shark ICZ160 & ICZ300 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner


Shark IZ201 & IZ251 Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner

Another cordless option from Shark that allows you to tailor it according to your needs. For smaller homes or anyone that doesn’t need (or want ) to hoover for more than 20 minutes, there is the single battery version but because the battery simply pops out you can go for a twin battery version for twice the runtime for anyone that loves hoovering or for larger homes.

You can also take it with or without a pet tool so you don’t need to waste money on the pet tool if you don’t have any pets.

This model comes with a bendy central wand that Shark calls “flexology” that allows you to get underneath furniture and tables without bending down. It also easily converts into a handheld making it easy to clean stairs.



See the full review of the Shark IZ201 & IZ251 cordless stick vacuum cleaner


Dyson V10 Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner

If we are judging Dyson on value for money then the V10 is the best hoover in their range. It may not be the latest model but cleaning performance is outstanding and the price has come down over the last year or so making this an exceptional value when you add performance and price together.

It’s far from cheap but if you want something that is going to deliver in the toughest of households this won’t let you down. You are not going to need this if you live in a one-bedroom flat but if you have children and/or pets and you have a lot of feet moving through your home then the suction on the V10 is not going to leave anything behind.

This model improved massively on the V8 which came before it but the V11 which came after isn’t that much better but it costs a lot more. I’ve personally used the V10 at home for some time and I can confidently say that it is difficult to imagine a situation where there is a need for better.

We have a cat and a dog and it deals with the pet hair like it’s nothing because the motorised brush accessory that you can attach onto the top turns into a mega-powerful handheld that is great on the stairs.

On full power the suction is like a cyclone, as powerful as you will ever need with the only downside being the battery only lasts about 10 minutes if you keep it on full power the whole time. The medium power setting is more powerful than most other hoovers on full and you’ll get about 25 mins out of it that way.

This is a really good vacuum cleaner from the world leader in cordless hoovers.



See the full review of the Dyson V10 cordless stick vacuum cleaner


Dyson V7 Trigger Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

If you already have a hoover that does a decent job of the floor but you want something that will be exceptional on the stairs this handheld is as good as any full-size hoover but without the long stick wand and floor head.

The suction power is second to none and when you combine that with the mini motorised tool and the other accessories no other handheld will do a better job on the stairs, car and all around the home to instantly clean up mess that is not worth bringing out the main hoover for.



See the full review of the Dyson V7 trigger handheld vacuum cleaner


Black and Decker PD1820L Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

This is a handheld vacuum cleaner with a difference. It has a 1.5 metre flexible hose that makes it perfect for getting around the awkward edges of stairs.

Despite the long hose, it has a very compact size measuring about the size of a ruler for both width and depth. It’s also great for the car and for getting into narrower and tougher spots in your home that you may struggle to get to with your full-size hoover.

You’ll never look at the stairs again and let out a puff of despair because you can just walk up and down them holding the handle with one hand and the hose in the other and get the stairs done in just a few minutes.


See the full review of the black and decker pd1820l handheld vacuum cleaner

What type of vacuum cleaner is best for stairs?

There are three main types of vacuum cleaner to choose from and one is the clear winner when it comes to cleaning stairs but a good one is more expensive than the other types.

You need to decide whether you are willing to compromise on convenience and pay less or bite the bullet and pay a bit more for top suction power and the ultimate convenience.

Cordless stick vacuum cleaners for stairs

This is the best type of hoover for stairs because you don’t need to worry about a cord and that makes it really easy to get into the edges of each stair without a cable getting in the way.

However, if you have carpeted stairs it’s important to have strong suction power otherwise the easiest to use vacuum cleaner will be no good if it’s not capable of picking up the dirt.

The problem with good cordless hoovers is that they cost a lot of money and the reason for that is the battery. Good batteries cost a lot of money for two main reasons, power and longevity.

Any cordless hoover below £100 is unlikely to be able to generate enough power for deep pile carpet and tougher to clean surfaces because the suction power won’t be good enough.

Cheaper cordless vacuums do serve a purpose but are better on hard flooring and smaller homes because you won’t get the best suction power and the battery could die before you finish if you keep it on high power the whole time.

With cordless you need to switch between low, medium and high power to get the most out of the battery otherwise you can get as little as 10 minutes out of some if you keep them on high power the whole time and that includes the top of the range Dysons as well.

This type of hoover also converts really well into a handheld because the waste container tends to be near the top where your hands and the handle are so it just clips away from the main wand and that makes it really easy to clean the stairs in double-quick time.

If you want the best cordless cleaners with the best suction power then you need to be prepared to spend several hundred pounds or more.

If you don’t want to go that far then there are other options available that are also good on stairs.

Upright vacuum cleaners for stairs

This type of hoover comes in a number of different forms. You have with a cord and cordless.

For overall cleaning performance across both floors and stairs, Shark undoubtedly has some of the best vacuum cleaners because they offer so much choice for every home type.

The waste container on some upright vacuum cleaners tends to be lower down toward the floorhead so are not convertible into handheld hoovers so that’s something to keep a lookout for.

You can get the best of both worlds though with Sharks powered lift away that allows you to remove the central unit and move freely up and down the stairs with maximum suction as if you were cleaning the floor.

If you go down the road of an upright vacuum make sure the hose is long enough so that you can go up and down the stairs without having to balance the hoover on the stairs like the old days.

Cylinder vacuum cleaners for stairs

This type of hoover can be brilliant value for money when it comes to suction power because you need to plug them into the wall but can also be the least suitable for stairs because they don’t convert into a handheld and the hose may not be long enough.

They are cheap but check that the hose reaches up the whole flight of stairs by measuring your stairs and then checking the length of the hose and wand.

Handheld vacuum cleaners for stairs

These are ideal for cleaning stairs as long as you choose one with good suction power and an accessory tool for stairs.

Lots of handhelds are meant for cleaning up small spillages around the home and are not meant for stairs and won’t do a good job on them so if you are choosing a handheld hoover to do your stairs stick to a premium brand like Dyson or Shark.

Whichever type you go for, it’s all about striking the balance between your budget and one that will do a good job of cleaning your stairs.

If you are prepared to spend hundreds of pounds then a top of the range branded cordless stick vacuum cleaner from Dyson or Shark will do a wonderful job but if you want to spend less then a good upright vacuum from Shark will also do a great job.

If you want some tips on the best way to keep your stairs clean this article explains in detail:

How to hoover stairs

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