Living Space: Having right tools makes vacuuming stairs easier

By Kathryn Weber
Oct. 3, 2013 at 5:03 a.m.

Getting carpeted stairs clean can be a challenge.

Getting carpeted stairs clean can be a challenge.

When it comes to housecleaning, there's one area that tends to get overlooked: the stairs. Hoisting a heavy vacuum cleaner up and down stairs can be difficult and even dangerous. But by choosing the right tools, you can clean stairs easier and faster, without risking a fall.

The dilemma

The typical problem with carpeted stairs is the upright vacuum. While great for maneuvering around floors, an upright is hard to maneuver and seldom adequately cleans individual stairs. Some uprights have long hoses, but these can be unwieldy and frequently are not long enough to vacuum all the way up the staircase, so only the first few stairs at the top and bottom get any attention.

The right tools

As with any other chore, having the right equipment is key. Assuming you can lift your upright up the stairs and vacuum each step, you'll only be able to clean the center section of the tread.

Over time, this leads to dirt buildup around the edges of the steps. This is where canister vacuums have a natural advantage. Their long hoses and roller brushes make getting each step fully vacuumed much easier.


If you don't have a canister vacuum, a portable vacuum can make stair-cleaning easier and more effective. These models are light and come with extra tools that allow you to get into crevices easily. The rotating vacuum head lifts and pulls carpet fibers. This type of vacuum will do a better job of cleaning than one that merely suctions carpet.

At the high end of the price range is the Dyson DC35 handheld, cordless vacuum. It has a detachable wand, allowing for the motorized head to be attached close to the handle and efficiently vacuums carpeted stairs. It sells for $329. A similar product that's corded and offers a motorized head at about half the price is the Shark Rocket. It sells for $159. Both are lightweight and come with crevice tools.

If both these models are still more vacuum than you need, the simpler Eureka RapidClean Step Handheld Vacuum is a good choice. It offers a rotating head, built-in hose and crevice tool that's carried on the vacuum's body. It sells for $45. The Dirt Devil Ultra Hand Vac also offers portability, a rotating brush head and a built-in crevice tool. It sells for $49.

What's important to remember with handheld vacuums is that you need one that's large enough to handle stairs. If it is too small, it will be like cleaning the floors with a toothbrush.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website,



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