Best Vacuum Cleaner For Stairs

how to hoover stairs

Hands up if you find stairs to be a real pain when it comes to hoovering? My hand is up, which is making it difficult to type, so I’d better put it down. Anyway, stairs are among the most fiddly parts of the house to hoover, and the best vacuum cleaners for stairs reduce the fiddling and the faff, making it vacuuming any staircase easy peasy lemon squeezy. 

In this post I’m going to suggest what I think are among the best vacuum cleaners for stairs, and I’m also going to share what it is about these hoovers that I think make them the best where stairs are concerned. 

No one-trick ponies

When you buy a vacuum cleaner it’s important to find one that will do a great job of cleaning your entire home, and whatever else you intend on using the hoover for, whether that’s for hoovering your car, your campervan or your superyacht.

There are vacuum cleaners that are one-trick ponies, for example, that are great for carpets, but not so good for hard surfaces, not so good for stairs, no ability to use as handhelds and so on. To be fair, some people will be absolutely fine with a hoover like this. If all you need to do is vacuum carpets, for example if you live in a fully carpeted Bungalow or apartment without stairs, then this won’t be too much of a concern. 

Most people, however, have a range of surfaces they want to clean, including carpets, hard floors, sofas, cars and stairs, so if this is you, you’re going to require the kind of versatility that comes with the kind of vacuum cleaners I’m talking about in this post. 

Handheld capability

Many modern vacuum cleaners now convert into handheld hoovers, while providing the same cleaning ability as when hoovering with them in the usual format. These kinds of vacuum cleaners are great for stairs, as they make it much easier to get to every stair without the same level of awkwardness. 

This isn’t just about weight, even the lighter upright vacuum cleaners, for example, can just be a bit awkward for hoovering stairs in their usual format, but the quick conversion to handhelds makes them much easier for handling stairs, and also for other tasks such as using to valet your car. 

Most of us will be familiar with the rigmarole of trying to hoover the top part of the stairs, which can include some kind of balancing act or having to take the hoover to the landing so you can reach the top step. 

With full-size vacuum cleaners that convert to handheld hoovers with just one click, this kind of faff just isn’t required, and they 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, and the aforementioned task of hoovering out the car. 

So converting into handheld is the main feature that qualifies a hoover to be regarded as among the best vacuum cleaners for stairs, but here are some other things to take into account:

Cord Length

If you’re buying a cordless vacuum cleaner, then yes of course you won’t need to consider the length of the cord or cable, and although cordless hoovers are particularly popular these days, going for a corded vacuum cleaner is a way to get among the best value for money.

So if you’ve made the decision that the additional cost of buying cordless hoover doesn’t really make sense and that a cable really isn’t a big deal, you’ll just want to make sure that the cable is long enough for you to hoover all of your stairs.

While many people will agree that having to plug in a cable isn’t an issue, only being able to hoover two-thirds of the stairs before having to take the hoover back down to unplug it, and then having to take it all the way to the top to plug into the nearest socket, wouldn’t be ideal.

Tools & Accessories

Some vacuum cleaners come bundled with numerous tools and accessories, many of which will often just get thrown into a cupboard to seldom see the light of day – but one tool that is particularly useful not only for but also for hoovering stairs is the pet tool. 

Most vacuum cleaner ranges include a “Pet” version, which comes with the pet tool, while you would usually have to buy this separately if you go for the base model in the range. 

These are a great tool for what they’re intended for, which is for dealing with pet hair & fur, but they’re also a really good tool for hoovering stairs. Pet tools are smaller floor heads intended for dealing with pet hair and fur, and the better ones have motorized brushes which do a better job of digging out the fur or hair which can end up embedded in carpet fibres.

What makes them great for hoovering stairs is that being smaller in width allows the same cleaning power from a smaller brush head, which can make hoovering stairs a bit less awkward vs using the standard full-sized brush heads. 

Suction Power

Suction power may not be the be-all and end-all where hoovers are concerned, but it’s definitely up there among the most important things to look for in a vacuum cleaner. It can have all the features in the world, but if it doesn’t have adequate suction power, let’s face it, it’s going to be about as much use as a chocolate teapot, for the stairs & for everywhere else. 

This is of particular importance where cordless vacuum cleaners are concerned because it’s only the better and more expensive corded vacuum cleaners that usually provide adequate suction power. 

Even when it comes to the best Shark and Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners, the impressive suction power that you’ll usually read in the marketing blurb along with phrases such as “As powerful as corded vacuums”, is relatively short-lived due to how draining these power levels are on the battery. 


If you do decide to go for a cordless vacuum cleaner rather than corded, then the quality of the battery needs to be considered. As a general rule, the more you spend on your vacuum cleaner the better the battery will be, and this will have a knock on effect both on the maximum suction power, and on how long you can hoover for before you have to re-charge the battery. 

If you’re halfway through hoovering the stairs, and the battery runs out of juice leading you to have to re-charge it and finish later, including remembering where you’d hoovered up to, this is a real pain.  Some brands including Shark allow you to have more than one battery, but this means spending extra money, and the higher-quality vacuum cleaner batteries are not cheap.


While the weight of your vacuum cleaner might not be of a great deal of significance when it comes to hoovering floors, that changes when you’re hoovering stairs, for obvious reasons. 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

No one wants to have to take out an open university diploma in electronic engineering just to learn how to use their vacuum cleaner. The old “less is more” maxim springs to mind here, we simply expect to be able to pick up the vacuum cleaner, turn it on, hoover up, turn it off & empty it. The best vacuum cleaners for stairs are those that combine ease of use with the other aforementioned features.

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

Shark IZ300 & IZ320 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

The IZ300 & IZ320 are among the best cordless stick vacuum cleaners. Being cordless, they don’t have cords… obviously, so you don’t need to worry about a cable trying to trip you up, and you’ll be able to hoover all of your stairs without worrying about having enough cord length to allow you to get through them all without changing sockets.

The IZ300UK comes with one battery for up to 60 minutes of hoovering on one charge, while the IZ320UK comes with two batteries, for a total of up to two full hours of vacuuming, for those who have bigger homes to clean, or who just love hoovering. The “T” versions of each, come with the motorised pet tool, making them one of the best cordless sticks where stairs are concerned. 

With just a single click, these cleaners transform into handheld hoovers instantly, and for the best results just go for the T version so you have the pet tool, which as I mentioned earlier are great for hoovering stairs, but they’re also great for pet owners too. You’ll get the same full power using one of these as a handheld or using it in its usual format, and when you’re done with the stairs there’s just another click required to turn it back into the full-length version. 

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


Vax Airlift Steerable Upright Vacuum Cleaner

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

If you’re looking for the best upright vacuum cleaner for your stairs, but you’re on a bit of a tighter budget, then the Vax Airlift is probably the next best thing. It’s affordable, but it isn’t false economy as you’re still getting the benefit of a trusted brand name in Vax, rather than taking a punt by risking your money on an unknown brand.

This is a corded upright vacuum cleaner, so you don’t get the convenience of a cordless hoover, and if you do see a cordless vacuum cleaner for this kind of price I would be very careful, as you really shouldn’t be able to buy even a semi-decent cordless for anywhwere near this price, the batteries alone would usually cost equal to or more than this. 

But you do get a very long 10 metre cable, which many people will find long enough to hoover the stairs without changing the plug, and this cleaner has really good suction power, too. It also 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 specifications 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, which is where the “stick” name comes from, so not particularly imaginative…

Dyson stick vacuums are cordless and they tend to cost a lot more than the majority of people would consider an appropriate amount of money to spend on a vacuum cleaner. So going for a corded version like this Shark corded stick vacuum cleaner is a good alternative for anyone who doesn’t want to spend the price of a holiday somewhere hot for a hoover. 

It’s corded, so although this does mean you have a power cable to not trip up on, there is an upside to this where cleaning time is concerned, meaning that you can continually hoover without worrying about how long the battery is going to last. 

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 the popular DuoClean feature meaning that it 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, you’ll never again have to take the scissors to your brush roller in order to get rid of tangled hair.



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 V12 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 cleaners to choose from and while one is the clear winner when it comes to cleaning stairs, that’s not necessarily the case once you take affordability into account, as the better cordless sticks are not cheap.

It’s just a matter of deciding on whether you’re willing to compromise to some degree on convenience and put up with a power cable, and if you’re not, deciding whether you can afford, or justify, the cost of one of the better corded vaccum cleaners. 

Cordless stick vacuum cleaners for stairs

The better of the cordless sticks are really the best type of hoovers for stairs because there’s no cord to worry about, they’re lightweight and really easy to get into the edges and corners of each stair without trying to manhandle a more cumbersome heavier weight vacuum cleaner, and without a power cable getting in the way. 

I say “the better of the cordless sticks” simply because the cheaper ones don’t tend to have the suction power required do a great job, especially if you have carpeted stairs, in which case it’s important that you have strong enough suction power, otherwise the easiest to use vacuum cleaner will be no good if it’s not capable of picking up the dirt.

The better cordless hoovers are among the most expensive hoovers, which is why corded vacuum cleaners are still very popular, because although most people would probably opt for the convenience of cordless if they could afford it, the best cordless vacuum cleaners tend to cost quite a lot of money in comparison to the best corded hoovers, and the cheaper cordless hoovers – and this has a lot to do with the batteries, as I mentioned earlier. 

High quality and high performing batteries which are capable of feeding a hoover with sufficient suction power to do a good job of hoovering carpets for more than a handful of minutes before they’re completely dreined are expensive. This is why you need to be very careful investing in any cordless hoover under £100. 

Keeping in mind that the wholesale cost for a high performing battery of this type can be close to £100 or in some cases can even exceed this, so it’s relatively unlikely that a cheap corded vacuum cleaner is going to have the battery performance required for doing a good job on carpets.

The much cheaper cordless vacuum cleaners do serve a purpose, and they’re a popular choice for people who only have hard floors, and for in smaller homes. If you have a lot of carpet, and/or if you live in a larger home, you’d probably be better steering clear of cheap cordless vacuum cleaners.

As I mentioned earlier, even the most expensive cordless cleaners won’t clean for a long time on the highest power setting, you’ll need to switch back to the low or medium power setting when you don’t require the max suction, in order to get the most of the battery. Otherwise in some cases even with the top of the range Dyson and Shark vacuums, you may not get much more than 10 minutes or so of hoovering before you need to recharge the battery. 

Cordless vacuum cleaners also convert really well into handheld vacuums, as 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

Uprights come in a number of different forms and are available both cordless and corded. 

For overall cleaning performance across both floors and stairs, Shark undoubtedly has some of the best upright vacuum cleaners, offering a great deal of choice for every home type, and in many cases being the leader when it comes to pairing performance with value for money. 

Upright vacuum cleaners don’t tend to convert into handheld vacuum cleaners like stick vacuum cleaners do, so that’s something to bear in mind, although the Shark upright vacuum cleansers which come with their “powered lift away” feature provides the best of both worlds, allowing you to remove the central unit and move freely up and down the stairs with maximum suction.

Again just make sure you consider the maximum distance between any part of your stairs and the nearest plug socket, if you’re going for a corded upright hoover, to make sure that you don’t suffer the annoyance of not having a power cable long enough for you to get all the way up the stairs without changing sockets.

Cylinder vacuum cleaners for stairs

Cylinder vacuum cleaners are among the best where value for money is concerned, as you can get amazing suction power at very low cost prices with cylinders, but along with ensuring you have a long enough cable as with upright vacuum cleaners, with cylinders you’re always going to have to carry the main part of the vacuum up and down the stairs, so you’ll want to pay close attention to the weight of the hoover you’re looking at. 

If you’re only hoovering a very small staircase then the hose on most cylinder vacuum cleaners may be enough for you to clean them all without lifting the cylinder, but if you’re hoovering a more standard sized flight of stairs it’s very unlikley you’ll find a hoover with a long enough hose for that. 

Handheld vacuum cleaners for stairs

Although I’ve previously said that cordless stick vacuum cleaners are among the best hoovers for stairs, partly because they so easily convert into handheld vacuum cleaners, some of the better handheld vacuum cleaners are also among the best for stairs, providing that you choose one with good enough suction power and a tool/accessory for hoovering stairs. 

Most handheld cleaners are made for hoovering up small spillages around the home and for vacuuming cars, so many of them won’t do a great job on stairs, so if you’re going to buy a handheld hoover for your stairs, you’d be better sticking with a premium brand like Dyson or Shark, and just ensure that it’s listed as a vacuum cleaner that is designed to work for stairs.

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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