Like hardwood floors, the steps in your home can be a challenge for many vacuums.
If you’re looking for one that performs well on stairs with hardwood or other hard floor material, there are a few important qualities to keep an eye out for.
It’s important to look for a lighter, thinner model for tackling the stairs. A heavy or bulky machine can be cumbersome—even dangerous—to maneuver up and down a staircase.
A narrow vacuum head also allows you to cover the entire surface area of the stairs, reaching all the nooks and crannies that traditional models miss.
You’ll also want to make sure that it has a long power cord, or no cord at all. This saves you the trouble of being forced to switch electrical outlets halfway up the steps.
If it uses a hose, that hose should be at least three feet long and come with a crevice tool for reaching tricky spots.
We took a hard look at some of the best and most popular models on the market today to determine which models perform well on both hardwood floors and staircases. By weighing their strengths against their weakness, we determined which models have the right qualities for both of these challenging surfaces.
After combing through product reviews, customer ratings, and expert opinions, we ended up with three different picks for our top choices.
Check out the winners!
Best Canister Vacuum
Top Stick Vacuum
Best on a Budget
Eureka Mighty Mite
Best Stair Vacuum Reviews
1. Miele S2121 Olympus Canister
A sleek, high-performance canister model that makes light work of hardwood floors and stairs.
Canister models are a good choice if you’re looking for a primary, full-sized machine that also does well on the stairs.
A good canister model will be able to handle the entire floor space of your home, not just the steps.
However, if you already have a main vacuum that you like (and you’re reluctant to pay for another full-sized model), you should check out our other two picks.
Our favorite canister model for tackling hardwood stairs is the Miele S2121 Olympus, and we’re not alone in our love for this model. Consumers and experts alike praise the Miele line.
The brand is well-known for sleek design, high-end components, and top shelf performance. Miele’s Olympus continues that tradition, while still managing to retain a mid-range price point.
The Olympus is a bagged canister model that’s surprisingly lightweight for a full-sized model—at roughly 13 pounds, it’s about half the weight of competing models.
The attractive, sleek white body of the machine glides smoothly along on three casters, allowing for a tight turn radius and improved mobility.
The telescoping wand and hose of this canister model provide improved reach, allowing users to access difficult areas like high shelving, ceilings, and (of course) the stairs. Between the wand, hose, and electrical cord, the Olympus has a cleaning radius of almost 30 ft. from the outlet.
This model includes an array of useful attachments: a multi-floor tool (for rugs and hard floors), a dusting brush, a crevice tool, and an upholstery brush. The dusting, crevice and upholstery attachment can all be stored onboard the body of the machine for easy access.
Like other Miele models, the Olympus S2121 has earned many fans for its sleek, minimalistic appearance and design. Though it’s a very light machine, it still has a substantial feel, and the smooth edges, high-quality components and quiet operation give off an air of luxury.
Unlike other Miele models, however, the S2121 doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to own. It’s one of Miele’s least expensive models, sitting comfortably in the lower end of the mid-range price bracket.
The Olympus S2121 truly shines on hardwood and other hard surfaces, though also it performs well on area rugs and other low-pile carpeting. The multi-floor head is designed to switch between floor types quickly and easily with the flick of a switch.
Though it’s quieter than most vacuums, the S2121 also produces the powerful suction necessarily to extract dirt and dust from nooks and crannies in hardwood floors. It also features a knob that allows users to adjust the suction level to accommodate more delicate surfaces.
The extendable wand and lightweight body are the two features that make this a great choice for the stairs. What’s also great is that, the suction of this model is evenly distributed across the head (unlike most models, which are strongest at the center of the head and weak at the edges), making it easy to extract debris from corners in a single pass.
Though the Miele Olympus is great for homes with hardwood, low-pile carpets and other firm surfaces, it delivers weak results on high-pile carpet. It lacks the beater brush roll necessary to dislodge particles from deep in the carpet. So this isn’t the best option for homeowners who have a high-pile carpeting in their home.
One common complaint with this model was its short electrical cord. The cord is only 18 feet long, and homeowners with larger rooms may have to purchase an extension cord. The long wand does give the Olympus substantial reach, but many users were still forced to switch outlets between rooms.
Some shoppers may also be reluctant to purchase a bagged model with so many bagless alternatives on the market. Replacement bags aren’t very expensive, but they do add a minor extra cost to your cleaning budget.
The well-built, sleek Olympus S2121 is a strong choice for a primary vacuum that can also make light work of cleaning your staircase. With powerful suction, an extendable wand, and a lightweight body, this model is our top choice for cleaning hardwood floors and stairs.
There were many reviewers who asserted that the Olympus actually made cleaning fun, and it’s easy to see why. The smooth maneuverability and quiet (yet powerful) operation have a distinctly high-end feel, inviting more than a few reviewers to compare this model to a luxury car.
2. Dyson V8 Absolute
The Dyson brand has quickly become one of the best-known brands in the business, and their stick model, the V8 Absolute, is one of their most popular models.
The brightly colored, futuristic-looking V8 is a cordless, bagless stick model that weighs a mere 5 pounds. The slender body has a center of gravity closer to the handle, giving it a more balanced, natural feel in the hand. The head of the V8 features swivel steering.
Its maneuverable, portable, and lightweight design makes it a good choice for cleaning on the stairs, in addition to other hard-to-reach spots like the ceiling and the interior of cars. The wand of the V8 also detaches to transform it into an even more portable handheld model.
The V8 is capable of surprisingly powerful suction, comparable to that of many full-sized upright models. It also features a “boost mode” that can increase suction power for difficult spots.
An impressive array of attachments is included alongside the V8, most notably a soft roller head for hard floors. There’s also a direct driver head for deep carpet cleaning, a crevice tool, a soft dusting brush, and a combination tool.
The wall-mounted charging station for this model doubles as a convenient storage place. The battery has about 20 minutes of charge (or 6 minutes in boost mode).
The majority of reviewers (both customers and experts) give the V8 Absolute 4 or 5 stars. It’s a well-designed, easy-to-use stick model that delivers more cleaning power than most other stick models.
Unlike many of the other machines reviewed on this site, the V8 Absolute performs equally well on carpets and hardwood floors. The two different vacuum heads included with the V8 both deliver great results on their respective floor types.
The hard floor attachment comes with a soft brush head that won’t leave scratches on your hardwood. Between the swifter-style brush and the powerful suction, the V8 leaves no small or large dirt and dust particles behind. In tests, the V8 outperforms most stick vacuums, with Consumer Reports rating it “Excellent” on bare floors.
The V8 earns equally high scores on carpets when using the Direct Drive cleaner head attachment, which uses rotating bristles to dislodge particles embedded deep in the carpet. The V8 is a great choice if your home has a combination of carpet and hard floors!
The swiveling head and lightweight build make this model great for the stairs. Between the maneuverable design of this stick vacuum and the option to convert it into a handheld model, the V8 Absolute is perhaps the best-designed model for staircases—whether they are hardwood or carpeted.
The major source of frustration with the V8 Absolute is more or less universal across all cordless machines: The short battery life prevents it from being a primary vacuum for all but the smallest of homes. Instead, this functions more like a “spot cleaner,” better for tackling one specific area in your home (like the stairs) or cleaning up a quick mess.
This leads to the second major issue with the V8 Absolute—it isn’t cheap, especially for a “back-up” model. Since its release, Dyson has dropped the price a significant amount, but it still remains at what would be considered the high end of the mid-range price bracket for a full-sized model.
For those with the budget, the V8 Absolute is a well worth the money. It’s a well-designed and powerful vacuum that’s tailor-made to go where other vacuums cannot. This lightweight and cordless model is perhaps the best model on the market for cleaning hardwood stairs.
Somewhat limited by a short battery life, the V8 Absolute isn’t meant to replace your primary vacuum. Instead, it’s made to be an outstanding secondary vacuum that will pick up any slack left behind by your full-sized model .
3. Eureka Mighty Mite
If you already have a vacuum that works well for your floors, you might not be eager to spend a great deal of money on a new model that you will only use on your stairs.
If this sounds like you, we recommend checking out the Eureka Mighty Mite. This powerful little machine was our top pick in our Cheap Vacuums for Under $100 article, and it also works quite well for cleaning your staircase.
The Mighty Mite is a bagged canister vacuum that has earned many fans for its small size, low price and surprisingly strong suction. The body of the vacuum weighs about 8 pounds, and the small yet sturdy body holds a powerful 12 amp motor.
One unique feature of the Mighty Mite: in addition to the standard suction port, there’s also a separate “blower port” on the body of the vacuum. By switching the hose to the blower port, users can transform the Mighty Mite into a miniature blower, able to clear out leaves and other debris from outdoor areas.
This canister has a telescoping wand that can extend to about 5 feet, allowing you to reach the ceiling and other tough spots, and the power cable is roughly 20 feet long. This vacuum also comes with a multi-floor attachment, as well as a crevice tool and an upholstery brush.
The Mighty Mite is one of the better value-for-price vacuums out there right now. Despite the low cost, this vacuum still delivers performance that rivals other models sold at twice the price or more.
The construction isn’t cheap, either. Though most of the exterior components are hard plastic, the Mighty Mite is durable enough to last for several years (if properly maintained). Many reviewers reported owning a Mighty Mite for a decade or longer before it needed replacing.
Though it’s not marketed exclusively as a hard floor vacuum, owners of the Mighty Mite say that’s where this vacuum really shines. The powerful suction is perfect for removing dust and other fine debris from the small crevices in hard wood.
For many reviewers, the best part of this vacuum is the small size. Only slightly larger than many hand vacs, it’s still portable enough to carry in one hand. The small size and light weight make it a great model for the stairs, as well as many other areas than can prove challenging to full-sized vacuums (like the ceiling and the floor beneath furniture).
It’s also quite good at picking up pet hair, according to pet-owning reviewers. Sucking up pet hair can prove challenging, even for some of the best vacuums on the market. Though it’s not strictly a pet vacuum, many homeowners with shedding pets will enjoy this nice bonus. You can read more lifehacks on cleaning out pet hair here.
Though the Mighty Mite is quite good at vacuuming hard surfaces, it delivers mediocre to poor results on high-pile carpeting. It performs well enough on short carpeting (including most rugs), but none of the included attachments are capable of the deep cleaning required by high carpets.
A few owners note that the 12 amp motor in the Mighty Mite can be noisier than average, and emits heat after extended use.
Though it’s by no means a perfect vacuum, the Mighty Mite is still one of the best bargain models out there. If you’re looking for an inexpensive but effective vacuum for hardwood floors and stairs, the Eureka Mighty Mite is a great option.
The small size and lightweight build make this a portable and versatile vacuum, able to reach the tricky areas that full-sized vacuums cannot, like ceilings, car interiors, and (of course) the stairs. The powerful suction, sturdy design, and lightweight build make this a strong choice for buyers on a budget.
Which Stair Vacuum Should You Buy?
Vacuuming hardwood stairs can be a tough task, but the right vacuum can make it a lot easier. The best pick for you will depend on your personal preferences and your budget.
Our favorite canister vacuum for the stairs is the Miele S2121 Olympus Canister, a slick and well-designed vacuum that specializes in hardwood floors. This vacuum has earned many fans for its superior suction and ease of use, as well as its lightweight design and high-quality components.
If you’re looking for a top-performing stick vacuum for the stairs, the Dyson V8 Absolute is a fantastic choice. It’s one of the best rated stick vacuums on the market, wielding impressive power from its lightweight frame.
Shoppers on a budget should check out the Eureka Mighty Mite. Eureka has managed to design a canister vacuum that’s inexpensive and compact while also being sturdy and powerful. This tough little machine performs best on hardwood floors, and is small and light enough for the stairs.
Looking for more great vacuums for your hardwood floors? Check out the best hardwood vacuums on Amazon for more top rated picks and read the hardwood vacuum reviews!