How to Vacuum Stairs?

You’re excited to buy an upright vacuum cleaner for the first time. You can imagine how it would make life easier for you. But as you start shopping for a vac model, one thing hits you– how would you vacuum the stairs? And which type of vacuum cleaner should you get?

Vacuuming the stairs will never make it to the list of easiest household chores. You may have a vacuum for stairs but if you don’t have the slightest idea how to pull off the task, then you may even be risking yourself to a fall.

Don’t worry as we got you covered. We’ll teach you how to properly and safely vacuum the stairs in this article.

How to Vacuum the Stairs?

The stairs, being a high-traffic area of the house, is one of those places which can easily get dusty and dirty.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can vacuum the stairs:

  1. Start from the top and work your way down.  Most people begin vacuuming at the bottom step and work their way up. This can be attributed to the fact that after finishing the main floor, the natural course of action is to proceed to the lowest rung of the stairs.

As you will see, the cleaner in the video is shown cleaning the stairs from the top going downwards.

Bring the unit to the top and plug it in a nearby outlet. If the cord is long enough, you may want to bring it down and plug in an outlet at the bottom of the stairs.

  1. Manually remove debris such as paper, bits of food, toys, and other items. These small items can clog the vacuum cleaner and lessen its effectiveness.
  2. Check your vacuum cleaner if it has a special attachment for cleaning the stairs.  The ideal attachment for this task is the crevice tool with its angled tip and skinny shape allowing it to get into tight spots like corners of stairs.

Your unit may also have a power or turbo brush. It is a small tool with rotating bristles. Its compact size makes it useful in removing pet hair from stairs as well as car interiors and upholstery.

  1. Stand on the third step from the top. Begin to clean the corners of the topmost step.

Did you know that most of the dirt in staircases get settled in the corners? That’s why it is recommended that you be firm in pressing the nozzle along the corners so that the vacuum cleaner would be able to suck all those accumulated dirt.

It’s really up to you how to use the tool. You can use it side to side. Several short, vertical strokes may also be effective in removing dirt and dust.

Don’t forget to clean the edges and the vertical part of the stairs before moving to the next step.  Depending on the height of the staircase, you might have to bring down the unit.

  1. After you are done cleaning the bottom step, go back to the top step and inspect your work. Check if there are no dirty patches remaining. If you notice any parts that need to be cleaned again, follow the steps above to get it cleaned up.
  2. Once you are finished cleaning the stairs, store your vacuum cleaner properly. Keep in mind that proper storage is integral to the maintenance of the unit.

But what if you have is an upright vacuum cleaner without attachments or tools for cleaning the stairs? How would you pull it off?

You should also start by standing on the third step from the top.

As you will see, the cleaner plugs the cord at the bottom of the staircase and starts cleaning from the top step.

Grab the vacuum cleaner with two hands. One hand should be on the handle while the other on the bottom pole.  Place the cord over one shoulder so that it won’t get out of the way of your cleaning job. As a safety reminder, make sure that your feet are entirely on the step.

Now vacuum the top step with strokes coming away from the step and heading towards you. Continue doing this in the next step until you get to the bottom of the stairs.

What’s the best vacuum for cleaning the stairs?

After watching that video, you may realize how difficult it can be to use an upright vacuum cleaner in cleaning the stairs. For one, you won’t be able to efficiently clean the corners and the vertical part of a step with an upright vacuum cleaner.

Another disadvantage of an upright vacuum cleaner is the weight. Upright vacuum cleaners are also big and bulky that there is a chance it would topple and fall off the stairs.

As such, we would recommend that you buy a canister vacuum instead. Canister vacuum cleaners are smaller and lighter than upright models, meaning it would be easier to carry it to the top of a staircase.

Moreover, canister vacuum cleaners are more powerful with better suction and flow-rate. This makes this type of vacuum cleaner more effective in cleaning stairs.

You may also use a cordless stick vacuum in cleaning the stairs. This type of vacuum cleaner is lightweight and compact. And because there are no cords, you won’t have to worry about cable tangles.

The problem with a cordless vacuum cleaner is the battery may die during a cleaning cycle. The same can be said for a handheld vacuum cleaner, aside from its suction power not as impressive as that of a canister vacuum.


Vacuuming the stairs should not be a tough and dangerous task. Follow our guide above and you should be able to clean your stairs with a vac in no time at all.

Do you have any questions? Post them in the comments section below!