How To Vacuum Stairs – In 4 Easy Steps

If you have a two-story house, you will know that stairs are one of the main problem areas when cleaning. Knowing how to vacuum stairs correctly will save you time, and have you blasting through the cleaning in no time at all!

The limited space in most staircases means that this area can be particularly difficult to clean properly, and it also has the potential to be quite dangerous. I know I’ve had a few close calls by getting tangled in a vacuum while trying to avoid a child toy when cleaning the stairs.

Surely there must be a simple and easy way to vacuum your stairs, you ask?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Read on below to find the best way to vacuum the stairs in your home.

Why Should You Vacuum The Stairs?

how to clean stairs

The reasons for vacuuming your stairs are both aesthetic, and practical. Nobody likes looking at discolored carpets due to a lack of cleaning, and the ingrained dirt that gets trodden further into the carpet leads to it deteriorating far quicker than other areas.

When you walk into a house, one of the first things that you’ll see is the stairs and if it is an unsightly color, then this might give the impression that your house is untidy, even if the rest of it is kept very neat and clean.

Stained and dirty carpets also trap dust and bacteria that can inflame allergies and affect your overall health and well-being.

How Often Should You Clean Your Stairs?

You should clean the main stairs in your house at least once a week. Even in the space of a single week, these often-used stairs can build up a healthy amount of grime and dirt. It is good to keep on top of this dirt so that the stairs don’t become permanently discolored.

When it comes to cleaning secondary stairs either to your basement or attic, which are often used less than the main stairs between floors, you can probably clean them on a monthly schedule, or whenever you think they need it.

What Will You Need To Clean Your Stairs?

The first thing you’ll need is a trusty vacuum cleaner. You probably have one that comes with a whole range of attachments so that you can get into the narrow corners which will often gather plenty of dust.

Bonus points if you have a quality hand-held vacuum with a rotating brush head. These battery-powered vacuums make cleaning stairs a breeze!

If you’re cleaning timber stairs, a regular broom will also be useful, especially if you have mobility issues. Repeatedly bending down while cleaning the stairs has given me a sore back many times over the years.

You’ll also want a brush with medium bristles. This will be to sweep the more stubborn dirt out of the way. You should also have a dustpan for the very same reason.

If you have one, an electrostatic duster is handy after vacuuming timber stairs. This will pick up the finest layer of dust that the vacuum might have missed.

Once you’ve assembled the right tools (and bookmarked our handy cleaning and care guides), your stairs will be cleaner than ever in no time!

Important Safety Message – Make Sure That The Stairs Are Clear Before Vacuuming!

how to vacuum stairs

You should make sure that the stair is clear of chew toys, shoes, and toys before you start vacuuming. It goes without saying that these items can present a dangerous trip hazard.

And they are just plain annoying to deal with when you’re halfway up the stairs with a vacuum in your hands.

Vacuuming Carpeted Stairs

When you are going to be working with carpet, then you’ll need to make sure that you have the right type of vacuum cleaner, preferably with a rotating power head to clean deeper into the carpet pile.

If you don’t have a decent hand-held vacuum, you’ll need to make sure that your regular vacuum has a decent hose that is flexible and will allow you to get in all the nooks and crannies.

Whichever type of vacuum you’re using, it probably also comes with attachments that have small brushes on the end or are shaped to fit into corners.

If your vacuum has a bag, make sure you empty it to maximize suction power before vacuuming your stairs.

Are you tossing up carpeting the stairs in your home? Check out our guide on choosing the best carpet for stairs. It has everything you need to know to help make your decision.

How To Vacuum Stairs In 4 Easy Steps

How To Vacuum Stairs

Clean The Banister Or Handrail

Not only should you not forget to clean the banister, instead you should clean it first! This will ensure it doesn’t get neglected, and any dust that falls onto the stairs will get picked up when you vacuum.

We would recommend that you use an electrostatic duster, as this will pick up all the dust from around the area where your duster travels. This is great for getting all the dust from those hard-to-reach places.

If you don’t have an electrostatic duster, either a microfiber cloth or a regular old duster will do just fine.

Start From The Bottom

When starting to vacuum your stairs, it’s best to begin at the bottom and work your way up. It’s much easier to keep your balance and manage your vacuum when going up the stairs than it is when coming down.

Having a hand-held vacuum will solve this problem in some ways, but it’s still a good idea to start from the bottom and work upwards.

Vaccum The Corners First

We recommend that you get into the corners first. This will make sure that the most stubborn dust has been dealt with straight away, and you won’t leave any dust or dirt behind after the main vacuum.

You can use a brush attachment or you can also use the narrow nozzle to really get into those narrow potions of the stairs.

If you have a carpet on the vertical section of your stairs (the riser), it’s a good idea to vacuum this while you’re getting into the corners. It will be easier to use the smaller attachments on the vertical surface than the regular head of the vacuum.

Lastly, Vacuum The Top Of The Stair Tread

Starting from the bottom of your stairs again (think of the bonus exercise!), it’s time to vacuum the horizontal portion of the stairs. Otherwise known as the tread.

You can use the regular floor head from your vacuum on these parts of the stairs. Work the vacuum across the tread in even passes.

Press the vacuum head hard against the carpet to get rid of all the dirt and feel free to go over an area several times if needed.


There you have it! Following this guide will have you cleaning your stairs safer, easier, and better than ever before.

While you’re here, don’t forget to have a look around and explore our other cleaning, care, and style guides. Check out some of our favorites:

For a few more tips and tricks on how to vacuum stairs, make sure you check out this video from the team at Deco Bliss.

About Darcy O

Loves good coffee, good design and a good nap on a good couch!

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