This is related to How to vacuum room with minimal amount of effort? but specifically aimed at vacuuming stairs.

I recently moved to a two-story house after being in single-story houses for a while. The stairs in the new house are carpeted. There are an assortment of small kids and pets in this house, so not vacuuming is not an option.

Right now my technique is:

  1. Start at the top and work my way down with the regular upright vacuum by attempting to man-handle it over each stair. This is a cumbersome procedure which gets most of the central area of each stair fairly clean, but still leaves bits in the corners.
  2. Clean out the corners with a smaller hand-held attachment vacuum.

I could just skip step 1 and use the smaller hand-held attachment vacuum to do the whole job, but I think this would take much longer.

Is there a quick, easy and effective way to vacuum carpeted stairs?

  • 4
    How about one of these? ;)
    – J. Musser
    Mar 17, 2015 at 20:43
  • I vote for having the kids do it ;). Go for the less is more. No shoes in the house to cut down on dust, Have the kids help to brush long haired pets (throw in the short hairs...why not?) in one area that is easier to vacuum to cut down on shedding on the stairs. Little things to keep the stairs from getting that way.
    – Coder-guy
    Mar 17, 2015 at 20:49

4 Answers 4


You definitely have the vacuum that makes this the hardest way to do is. I suggest a canister vacuum with long attachments and a backpack harness.

One of these

enter image description here

that J. Musser suggested in the comments Would be ideal, It allows you to safely and easily vacuum stairs. Might be a little pricey.

A shop vac would also work with the proper attachment. They usually have long hoses that would allow you to get all the stairs without having to move the thing. Can be found for a reasonable price and a wide variety of configurations.

  • 1
    Yup, and you can usually remove the wide head and use something smaller for the edges/corners.
    – J. Musser
    Mar 18, 2015 at 2:14
  • 1
    I would honestly have half the stairs done before you were strapped in. Ummm.... not a lifehack just something different.
    – blankip
    Mar 23, 2015 at 23:00
  • 1
    Probably worth noting that these backpack models come in a range of sizes and weights, the one I use is a bit smaller and weighs less than 8lbs.
    – apaul
    Apr 8, 2015 at 14:11
  • Also worth noting that while these work really well for carpets with a short pile, they don't work well at all for deeper carpets with longer fibers.
    – apaul
    Apr 8, 2015 at 14:12

I leave the cleaner at the bottom of the stairs and use one of these to extend the hose: http://www.coopersofstortford.co.uk/src/gbase/coopers-of-stortford-universally-fitting-5m-vacuum-extension-hose-prodst07691i/?gclid=CJyAnOeZs8QCFSzKtAodYBAAGg


Canister vacuums are heavy and expensive and unsuited to single family residences. The hose extension is a much better option but is likely too short for an entire flight of stairs making it necessary to work first from the top, then from the bottom.

My solution was to use a handheld DustBuster type vacuum ($40) on a regular basis and only drag out the regular vacuum once a quarter or so.


I don't have any experience with upright vacuums, but have successfully used regular vacuums in stairs. My tip is to use hold/carry the vacuum in one hand, and then use it with a half-length (or compressed) pipe with maybe a smaller nozzle attachment to get into corners.

small vacuum

Image, from wikimedia, shows small vacuum with shorter pipe, but regular nozzle. These are easily carried in a stair.

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