The Best Way to Vacuum Stairs

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If you live in a home with multiple levels, you’re undoubtedly aware of how easy it is for dirt, dust, and hair to get stuck on your stairs. Whether you’re living with hardwood or carpet, every time someone walks from one level to another, they’re going to track dirt with them.

In very sharp contrast to how easy it is to get dirt on your stairs, it may be frustrating to get the dirt off. The staircase is one of the most frequented parts of the house; high traffic if you’d like to call it that. This is because it connects essential parts of your home. Try and do a rough estimate of how many times you have to climb those stairs daily. Because of this frequency, dirt and debris easily get to different parts of the stairs and become stubborn stains.

The designs of a staircase may not be too complicated to look at or imagine. But indeed, it contains some hard to reach corners. If cleaning the first tread comes relatively straightforward, there are about a dozen more treads. And the treads aren’t only your concern; you still have to clean the risers and corners connecting the wall. The whole stairs vacuuming is a stressful task we’d all rather avoid, but we have to keep our homes in pristine conditions, don’t we? The important question becomes “What is the best way to vacuum stairs?” If at this point, you think it’s nothing the right vacuum cleaner and detergent wouldn’t do, then you have successfully painted, albeit half of the full picture. The right tools will get you somewhere, but there’s an art to cleaning vacuum stairs that even the instruction manuals in top quality vacuum cleaners won’t explain to you.

In this article, you’ll find essential tips about the best way to vacuum your stairs and protect the integrity of your home. We make a few references to tools and essential vacuum cleaners you’ll find useful, but that’s not our focus here. In another article, you’ll find the best vacuum cleaners to use for your stairs.

Best Way to Vacuum Stairs


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Best Ways To Vacuum Stairs

  • Practice a few tips at Home to Make Vacuuming Easier
  • Vacuum from Top of Stairs to Bottom
  • Use the Right Tools or Make the Best of Your Tools
  • Alternate Between Treads and Risers
  • Use a Stiff Brush to Loosen Stubborn Stains
  • Make Best Use of Your Vacuum’s Additional Equipment


Best Practices for a Less Stressful Vacuuming

This is a bit of a detour, but a necessary one nevertheless. So far, we’ve established that cleaning your stairs is rarely an easy task. We didn’t even mention how much mental preparation you have to do. However, before you start the vacuuming task, is there anything you could have done beforehand to reduce the stress of vacuuming your stairs? The answer is yes.

If you do most of the cleaning, you probably don’t contribute too much to getting dirt and debris on your stairs. It’s a different story if you have a clumsy teenager, kids, or a few pets. Cats and dogs are adorable, but they contribute quite a lot of fur and hair to your interior space. What you can do to limit the amount of dirt and debris on your stairs is to propagate a clean culture with your kids. Teach them to put off their shoes at the door or have them cleaned at the doormat. This way, your home benefits as they don’t have to carry all the dirt into your home and stain your flooring.

Practice the same with the pet. Have them cleaned frequently. You can teach your kids to brush them as often as possible. This will limit the amount of pet hair and fur on your stair. These home practices not only benefit your stairs; they make vacuuming all the parts of your house less strenuous. It’s always better when everyone contributes to the cleanliness of the home, and they don’t have to clean to contribute.

Another practice before vacuuming your stairs is to remove any objects that may stand in your way. Empty your staircase of possible clutter before vacuuming. This way, you reduce distractions, avoid items like socks clogging your vacuum and you know where to focus on the stubborn stains.


Start from Top to Bottom

It’s a prevalent, almost natural practice to clean stairs from the bottom to the top; cleaning treads first, then risers. Doing this, you’re most likely tired halfway to the top. It’s not easy when you’re using a vacuum that you have to carry. You’re not only expending energy on cleaning, but you’re also using up your energy lifting the cleaner and climbing up.

Climbing down is much less stressful than climbing up. So, starting from the top is much more comfortable and it takes less time. Moreso, going up down allows you to gather the dirt and debris in one location as you move them down each stair. You can collect all the dirt into the vacuum in one sweep. It is much more efficient and less time-consuming.


Yes, The right Tool can Make Vacuuming Easier

Having some tools make the process a wholesome, more seamless experience. However, you can make the best use of your vacuum cleaner and get a perfect clean.

If you currently use an upright vacuum for your stairs, you probably have a more challenging time cleaning than someone who uses a handheld vacuum. Still, you don’t necessarily get different results if you do it right. If you have an upright vacuum with a hose extension, you can make the best use of the hose extension. You can leave the vacuum cleaner on the floor at the base of your staircase and use the extension at each stair. You really don’t have to carry your upright vacuum around when you have an extension!

When vacuuming your stairs, always pay attention to the corners, crevices and in between the banisters as specks of dust tend to settle here more permanently.  A handheld vacuum is excellent and almost seamless. However, it may be challenging to reach the corners and edges, but a simple crevice tool attachment takes care of this for you. If you haven’t already, then check if your handheld vacuum has a crevice tool, but even if it doesn’t, a hose can help out.

If you have a canister vacuum with a backpack harness and a long attachment or a shop vac, then you have made a pretty good investment as they are instrumental in cleaning stairs.


Here’s an Extra Tip: The Risers and The Treads

Two significant parts of a staircase are the risers and the treads. The risers are the vertical part that leads to the next stair while the treads are the horizontal parts of the stair on which you can stand. If you currently alternate between the treads and the risers, then you’re doing a pretty good job of vacuuming your stairs. However, if you have been taking two trips; first vacuuming the treads and making a second trip to vacuum the risers and other parts of the stairs, you may be doing a good job effectively vacuuming, but that’s not the most efficient way. Alternating between treads and risers is the more efficient way as you achieve a more effective clean in less time.


Stubborn Stains? Use a Stiff Brush

One thing about dirt on stairs, unlike other parts of the house, is that they are easily trampled into the floor. Since stairs are frequented areas, repeatedly walking on them gets previous dirt, grime, and debris even stiffer in the stair carpet or rugs. This may be hard to get rid of, but you can use a stiff brush to loosen the stubborn stains before vacuuming. If this doesn’t work because the dirt is deep in your carpet or rug fibers, you may use some elbow grease along with the stiff brush before you start vacuuming. Using a stiff brush may just be the best way to clean stairs with carpets.


Extra Features of your Vacuum? Use it

You must have gathered this much so far, but it’s worth reiterating as a point of its own. If you already have an efficient vacuum cleaner, check for the additional tools and equipment. They are usually there to make cleaning several parts of your house more comfortable. The easiest way to vacuum stairs may just be lying there in your storage.

Nozzle attachments are designed for use on hard floors. However, you can use the nozzle to focus on stubborn stains on your stairs. You can use the nozzle attachment to clean the edge of the carpet, reducing the overall time you spend vacuuming your stairs.  You can also use the nozzle attachment with a wider brush to clean corners and crevices of your staircase.

Mini motorized brush or brush attachments are great attachment features of some vacuums that are especially useful for cleaning the tread part of the stairs without carrying the whole vacuum machine around with you. The brush attachment also makes the task of vacuuming the risers simpler. When cleaning the stair’s risers with the brush attachment, you have to twist your arm in a specific position to achieve the desired clean.





Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best way to vacuum pet hair off carpeted stairs?

A great way to get pet hair off your stairs is by using a squeegee. The squeegee is attached to many types of vacuum or household equipment so you should check if you already have one. Use the squeegee to scrape pet hairs from alternate sides of the stair treads. Once you have the small pile of pet hair in the middle of each stair, you can easily vacuum it up.

2.  How to vacuum stairs with shark cleaners?

Yes, you can read the instruction manual for how to vacuum stairs with a shark rotator; however, operating a Shark vacuum cleaner is very easy. You need to carry the pod in one hand and get lightweight cleaning on stairs. You don’t have to take the whole vacuum up each stair as you can detach with the light away feature. You can also clean your stairs using the hard floor button. While the Shark cleaner is in the class of upright vacuum cleaners, known for their heaviness which makes it hard to carry on the stairs, the Shark cleaner is relatively lightweight.

3. What about a Dyson, do I need instructions too to know how to vacuum stairs with Dyson cleaners?

Just like the Shark vacuum, it is always important to read the instructions before use. The good thing about the Dyson vacuum is, it’s a stick vacuum cleaner which is ideal for cleaning stairs because of its lightweight. Also, the Dyson vacuum can quickly and easily be transformed into a handheld for cleaning on the stairs. In this form, you can also use it in cars and on the sofa. In another article about Vacuums for stairs, you’ll find more information about Shark and Dyson cleaners and why they’re excellent recommendations for vacuuming stairs.

4. Can I use any vacuum when I’m looking for the best way to vacuum carpeted stairs?

There are major types of vacuums, namely Upright, Sticks, Canister, and Handheld. And you can use anyone, so there is rarely a best vacuum for stairs with carpet. Handheld vacuums offer the most flexibility and ease because you don’t have to lift a bulky machine while going up or down your staircase. However, you can achieve the desired clean with any of these classes of vacuum cleaners if you use them right.

Some Stick vacuum cleaners like Dyson can be transformed into handheld units. The Canister vacuum cleaners are very powerful, but you may find them a bit heavy on your back, and the upright may be a bit strenuous to lift about although they are just as practical and comfortable to use because you don’t have to bend.  However, to clean carpet stairs efficiently, work on each stair more than once and make sure you cover every inch of the carpet using a left to right, or right to left motion as you clean. And as a rule, never ignore the risers!

5. Will I damage my hardwood surfaces when I vacuum the stairs?

As long as there are no objects stuck in the brushes of your vacuum cleaner, you should be able to clean without causing damage to your hardwood surfaces.

6. Which type of vacuum is the easiest to use between cordless and corded?

Cordless vacuums offer more freedom and are considered easier to use because there are no wires in the way. Corded vacuums can be tricky because you have to worry about cables as well as the max range. However, the downside to cordless vacuums is that there’s a limit to how much time you can clean before you have to charge them again. So, the right vacuum between corded and cordless to use on stairs really should depend on your estimate of time need to complete the cleaning task.

7. What is the best way to vacuum stairs with much dogs and cat fur?

It would help if you bought pet attachments with your vacuum to ensure that dog and cat fur is cleaned. Some vacuum cleaners are specifically designed to handle pet messes.  If you are wondering how to vacuum cat hairs off stairs, some of the best vacuum cleaners you can use include the:

However, as earlier explained in FAQ 1, you can use a squeegee to clean up the dog and cat fur and hair messes before vacuuming

8. Best Vacuum for Cleaning Stairs

There is no best vacuum to clean the stairs. Different classes of vacuum can help achieve a pristine look and even restore your stairs to its former glory when you just moved in. The vacuum cleaner you should buy depends on your cleaning peculiarities (such as pets etc.) and which one offers you the most comfort. Check out this article to know which vacuums are best for cleaning your stairs.

9. How often do you need to Vacuum your stairs?

You should vacuum your stairs as many times as you clean and vacuum your home. If you have several people living or visiting your house every day as well as pets, then you may have to vacuum at least once every two days. However, twice a week may be fine if you don’t have too many people living or visiting and one or no pets.



As mentioned in the introduction, the right vacuum might help, but these are practices to help you ensure an even more seamless, more efficient clean. It would help if you didn’t have to spend more time than necessary cleaning your stairs and still not achieve the desired effect, even when you’ve gone over the cleaning process more than once. The stairs are a significant part of the home, and the tips here show you easy ways to vacuum stairs and ensure that they stay clean. If you already have a process that works, that’s great, but it wouldn’t hurt to try a new way. Moreover, you can share your tips in the comment!

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