/ Home & Energy

Vacuuming the stairs – how do you clean yours?

A set of carpeted stairs

Of all the jobs around the house, vacuuming the stairs is the most groan-invoking. But there are several different ways to approach the problem – so how do you clean yours?

Personally, I carry my small cylinder vac about and use the main floorhead to clean each step. I then return to the bottom, attach the crevice nozzle and go round the edges of each step – or rather, the ones I can’t get away with not vacuuming.

On the other hand, my other-half will move the vac from stair to stair and use just the crevice nozzle, or alternatively use just the hose without a nozzle attached.

An upright conundrum

It can be an especially annoying task for owners of upright vacuums, as these types of vac tend to be heavier than their cylinder counterparts. They also don’t take well to sitting on stairs.

Unless, of course, your upright vac has a hose long enough for you to leave it on the floor while you tackle the stairs with the hose and attachments. One of our Which? members is lucky enough to have one such vacuum:

‘This enables the vacuum to be stood at the bottom of the stairs and you can then reach to the top stair. This is one of the reasons why I prefer an upright vacuum. It is much safer than trying to have a vacuum stood on the stairs.’

Then there are cordless or handheld vacs, which are lighter than the typical vac and generally a lot less effort. However, they often come with added expense.

How do you clean your stairs?

Some people have two vacuum cleaners – one upstairs and one downstairs – to avoid lugging anything up and down the stairs. But what’s your preferred method of cleaning the stairs themselves?

Do you use more than one vacuum cleaner or an attachment for cleaning the stairs? Do you keep a handheld vacuum as well as a full-size model?

Comments
Member

First, I remove the large head from my Miele cylinder cleaner and replace it with the the small cleaning head. Then I start vacuuming from the bottom up, moving the vacuum cylinder a few stairs at a time. The long hose enables me to reach a few stairs ahead of the step where I and the cylinder stand. The electrical cord is always behind me and not tripping me up. Sometimes, when I’m in a rush, I lift the cylinder and carry it up the stairs while I give a quick vacuum to the stairs.

I have a handheld vacuum but it would take too long with this as the head is very small.

I would love to buy a smaller, lightweight, powerful vacuum for the stairs, but would not pay the extortionate prices some well know manufacturers charge.

Member

If I am stuck with vacuuming the stairs, I tend to use my Vax bagless upright vacuum, because it’s very light indeed. I’ll have to balance it on the stair, holding it with one hand, while I use the hose with a crevice nozzle on it to vacuum up. But it certainly isn’t easy – and even a light vacuum cleaner gets heavy after long enough!

I tried with my Henry Hoover once…but I’ll never make that mistake again.

Member

When I lived in a house I used to use a cylinder vacuum, do the landings with the floor tool and then work upwards with the small brush attachment, holding the vacuum in the other hand. Half way up I would run out of cable and have to plug in at the top of the stairs. Hand-held vacs are great for cars and for anyone who finds a normal vac is too heavy, but the performance is not great.

I’ve lived in a bungalow for 30 years, so vacuuming stairs is just a memory. 🙂

Member

I use a Dyson DC 44 Animal, handheld with powered brush head.

Member

This is a good example of poor design because it will put unnecessary strain on the wrist, made worse by the weight of the internal battery. An orthopaedic specialist should be able to confirm this.

My grandmother’s Hoover Dustette – designed in the 1940s – did not have this problem.

If the DC44 is intended to be held in two hands I will take back my criticism.

Member

I had not appreciated that the battery is below the handle, which will help reduce wrist strain. However, I have found numerous criticisms that this handheld vac is a problem for users, particularly those with arthritis, so I stand by my claim that it is a poorly designed product.

Member

Hi Philmo and wavechange,

Philmo – thanks for leaving a comment, it’s very much appreciated. Just to help me with my research, can I ask if you have another vacuum cleaner you use at home, or do you use the DC44 for everything?

wavechange – I think I’d have to disagree with the DC44 being a badly designed product. We first looked the model in November last year and our researcher found it seemingly did a good job of cleaning away dust and was easy to vacuum around the house. She used the DC44 in handheld mode (without the wand/tube) to clean the stairs and commented that it was as easy as cleaning the floor – not something you usually hear about vacuums!

The problem we had with the DC44 is that you have to continuously hold down the trigger, which can get quite tiring. Our researcher suggests that a locking mechanism for the trigger (or similar) might be an improvement.

While we appreciate that others may have had difficulties with this vac, we generally found the DC44 to be quite well designed. Here’s the review: http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/laundry-and-cleaning/reviews-ns/stick-vacuum-cleaners/dyson-digital-slim-dc44-animal/

Member

Adrian

I am not saying that the cleaner is ineffective, but after I posted my first comment I found quite a few users’ comments supporting my view that the DC44 is tiring to hold and a strain on the wrist, particularly by those with arthritis. If you are going to carry something heavy it is best to have the handle horizontal or sloping towards you, or to use two hands, and definitely not with weight in front twisting the wrist. I don’t know whether Which? enlists the help of elderly and arthritic people to test products that are not specifically designed for their needs.

I did pick up the criticism of the switch in a couple of the online comments. This is quite a common design fault with household products. Sometimes it is related to safety but often it is just lack of thought by manufacturers.

Member

Having a look around the web, there are quite a large number of reviews saying how easy it is to move about, though I have a found some mentioning that it becomes heavy after continued use. The review of the DC44 is scheduled to be moved from where it is now to another area that will allow W? members to add their own review of the DC44, it will be interesting to see what our members think of this vac.

Incidentally, at a Dyson launch, the DC44 was explained not to have a locking mechanism for the trigger so you won’t be tempted to leave it on between cleaning jobs, thus preserving the battery. But given the number of people mentioning the trigger is a pain to hold down, I wonder if they will change that? We shall see!

Anyway – to stay on topic, please do keep the explanations of how you clean your stairs rolling in. It is all very helpful and interesting.

Member

Thanks for looking into this, Adrian. There are plenty of examples of cordless appliances where it is easy to keep the power switch on, so hopefully this will be an easy problem to rectify with this vac.

I would just like to add that my criticism only applies when the DC44 is used to clean stairs, etc. and must be lifted frequently. When cleaning floors, the handle is a good angle and there is little strain on the wrist.

Member

The researcher Adrian refers to who tried out the DC44 was myself, so I thought this might be a good time to join in this conversation.

I gave the DC44 a pretty thorough workout on walls, stairs, all my different floors – I even used it on shelves and skirting boards, and did the whole house more than once – these are not things that happen often in my house!

Personally I found it a lot less tiring than using my cylinder, especially on the stairs where I normally have to drag the cleaner up and balance it on the steps behind me as I go. I tend to end up dragging it up the steps by the hose, which I often think can’t be good for it, though I can reach the top without unplugging if I plug it into the right downstairs socket.

With the DC44 I took the stick off and attached the head to the motor, which felt comfortable to me. I liked the fact that I could work close to the stairs without wires or a hose to get in the way and it felt a lot less heavy than my cylinder as I haul it up in my usual way.

I should add, though, that I don’t have arthritis, and I do wonder whether any handheld machine would be comfortable for someone who does, though I do take your point that they can be made so if designed with that in mind.

Member

There are two staircases in our house so a fair bit of consideration has gone into how best to clean them. We have a Miele and a Henry vacuum cleaner [both kept under the lower stairs as it happens]. The Miele is certainly the best one to use on the stairs and has a long enough flex and suction hose to operate conveniently. You can stand the unit on end on each stair and progress upwards or down but I tend to carry the machine in the left hand and work the tool – without any extensions attached – with the right hand. The Miele also has an alternative smaller-sized turbo-brush which is good for doing stairs. The Miele is a quieter cleaner than the Henry and performs better for ordinary household requirements [the weight of the full-size turbo-brush is an advantage giving closer ground contact and greater stability, and the engineering of the tube/head joint is exellent for allowing you to clean right under low furniture and in confined spaces]. Sir Henry will not stand properly on the stairs despite several warnings and is too bulky and awkward to manhandle in the Miele manner. The cleaner is very good in other ways, though, with a powerful suction, longer suction hose [but shorter tubes], a bigger bag, and plenty of flex; it comes into its own when you have to deal with the fluff off new carpets and DIY clear-ups.

Member

I will stick with my much loved Miele cylinder cleaner which is a doddle on the stairs and works very well everywhere else. I would not pay £270 approx for this Dyson as it looks top heavy and any Dysons used in friends homes have felt very awkward to use. I much preferred the Henry as it glided very well and felt light and easy to use.

Member

I must admit I’m pretty ruthless with the hose of my upright vac. I attach the head that looks like a funnel (upholstery cleaner?), leave the base at the bottom of the stairs and vacuum my way up. I stretch the hose as far as it’ll go which gets me a couple of stairs short of the top. Then, when I’m hoovering the landing, I go back to the stairs I couldn’t reach. Job done.

I know this probably isn’t great for the hose, but I hate hoovering the stairs so much I can’t help it.

Member
Pjay Gloucester says:
23 May 2013

A few years ago, I puchased an extention hose from Betterware. It is 53″ in length and will extend to the top of my 14 step stairs with ease.
I have a Hoover upright unit. The hose fits onto the nozzle attachment hose, so I can leave the cleaner at the botom of the stairs, put the required nozzle on the other end and clean the stairs with ease.

Member
Peter Wareham says:
23 May 2013

Like one or two of your other correspondents we use a Dyson battery-powered vacuum cleaner (DC 31) for th stairs and, although it only has an operating time of 6 mins on full power, it gets over the problem of trying to balance our Miele cylinder cleaner on each step of the stairs, which is a real pain. I honestly did not know that some upright vacs have a long hose reaching all the way up the stairs, but in any case I may well go for another battery-powered vac next time such as a stick vacuum cleaner from either Dyson or Gmax (?) is it? As they have longer operating times before he need to recharge and are apparently much lighter without the nuisance of a power cord.

Member
Frederique Gower says:
23 May 2013

I use a handheld Dyson DC35. I got it when I became pregnant as I couldn’t face lugging our huge Dyson upright up and down the stairs. Result, it is now the only vacuum we use and the stairs are a breeze. I use the large brush head straight on the vacuum, and it does a pretty good job. Even my now 18 months old helps me vacuum the house with it. The rest of the family converted to it and now we all have (at least) one per household. I would be lost without it!

Member

For many years I used my old Dyson DC07 which (although a bit bulky under furniture) was very good because it would easily stand at the bottom of the stairs while I was able to go all the way to the top by just pulling the extension hose out from the handle. Easy!

Then I made the mistake of swapping it for a nice new Dyson DC50. Disaster! The hose, when pulled out from the handle, only reached about halfway up the stairs. And I can’t swap back because I availed myself of the Currys “trade-in” of my old cleaner. So I’m faced with now having to buy a (cheap — it won’t be a Dyson!) hand-held vacuum to do just the stairs. What waste of money this has been! I really wish that I’d just stuck with the old DC07.

It would be a good idea if all reviews listed the hose length available for all cleaners. (And even better if all the manufacturers did so.)

Member
Keith Barker says:
26 May 2013

We bought a Which Best Buy Miele S 7210 upright vacuum cleaner and use it’s extending hose for cleaning the stairs.Whilst we find this machine very good at cleaning it is quite heavy and unbalanced especially when using the extension hose. The hose is stiff and quite difficult to pull to its furthest extent and therefore frequently pulls the machine over completely which is very annoying but more importantly can be dangerous. I intend to raise this issue with Miele as in all other respects we are happy with this machine’s performance. Does anyone else experience the same problem?

Member
Dave says:
31 October 2014

I agree with your comments about the Miele S7210. Unfortunately I had to really pull on the hose to reach our top 2 stairs which recently resulted in the hose tearing! This of course also meant that the whole machine was rendered useless. We managed to repair the hose with some glue which allows us to continue using the Miele for normal vacuuming. As yet we haven’t dared to try and use the repaired hose. It costs about £80 for a replacement hose assembly! 🙁

Member
John G says:
27 May 2013

I use the Coopers Of Stortford extending hose which extends up to 16ft and costs £6.99 plus p.and p . It fits both our upright and an industrial type vacuum cleaner which can sit at the head or foot of the stairs, but not all the tools from these machines fit this hose well, some have a tendency to come off in ones hand.

Member
Martin says:
28 May 2013

We have a Dyson DC14, only an average size house – but the hose doesn’t reach the top of the stairs so we have to move the cleaner to the landing. There is then the danger of pulling it down

It only needs to be a couple of foot longer – and I’m sure we cannot be the only people who have this problem

Member
P.F.Ratigan says:
29 May 2013

I have a SEBO type X4 with the usual 0.7m long concertina hose at the top. I vacuum the stairs by lying the cleaner flat at the bottom. When the cleaner hose is joined to the optional 1.85m extension hose the two together extend to 4m, easily enough to reach the top of the stairs. The small tool clipped to the back of the cleaner makes things very easy.
I feel that the two hoses will extend further if required.

Member
P.F.Ratigan says:
29 May 2013

I once bought a Dyson vacuum, being accustomed to the technology. It worked superbly, but the handle fell apart after less than a year. Then there was risk of running over the pieces that broke and fell off (the plastics were very brittle), thereby jamming the brush. I cemented the pieces back on as much as I could. It was in for repair several times. It was a high maintenance cleaner even when doing normal household jobs. Eventually I scrapped it.
We also have a Hoover Dustette which we use for the beds, and a Numatic HenryXtra for rough jobs.

Member
Roger E says:
30 May 2013

I have an upright Sebo with an extension hose. I can do the top half of the stairs with the vacuum on the landing and the bottom half with the vacuum in the hall. It works very well.

Member
C Davidson says:
30 May 2013

I use an upright Dyson with extension hose. It reaches to the half landing, and I then carry the machine up to that point to do the rest.

Member
P.F.Ratigan says:
31 May 2013

The extension hose that I refer to is an extra that I bought with the vacuum. It has a rubber connection that slides over the concertina section attached to the body beside the handle. With the two fitted there is no need to clean half way and then the other half. I feel that if the vacuum cleaner is at the top of the stairs when the stairs are cleaned then there is the risk of it being pulled down and knocking down the user.

Member
Busy Bear says:
31 May 2013

This is true, a vacuum at the top needs to be used with care. I use a Numatic Henry and the hose is plenty long enough to come 1/4 the way down without pulling the cleaner, but many cleaners have shorter hoses.

Member
Busy Bear says:
31 May 2013

I run a domestic housecleaning service, taking with me all products and equipment, and regularly clean 15 or more flights of stairs each week. I clean just about every style and age of property you can think of; this, coupled with the different carpet types means I have a variety of ways of vacuuming stairs. As I work alone and the clients are not usually home, my personal safety is my principle concern. Vacuuming stairs cam be a very dangerous activity.

I use two different cleaners – a semi-commercial upright and semi-commercial cylinder. Some homes require only one vacuum cleaner due to the floor types (homes with almost all carpets are the ones where I use the upright, whereas hard-floor homes require the cylinder), but in many I use both cleaners so as to achieve the fastest and most effective results across all surfaces. There is no such thing as one vacuum cleaner which does all tasks to perfection. I will always use my cylinder cleaner on stairs given the choice, usually standing it at the bottom of the stairs to clean 3/4 of the way up the stairs and then putting it on the landing to clean down the remaining 1/4. I cannot abide the stretch hoses on upright cleaners as I am constantly fighting them as they pull back on me. They are also hopeless on stairs which twist as the hose gets caught on the stair rails.

If there is one thing set in fact, it is that vacuum cleaners are a personal choice. I owned the original D y s o n hand-held cleaner, the DC16, and I never ever liked it as I found it impossible to hold onto for any length of time. Whilst the DC44 is vastly improved, I have picked one up and found it to be no more easier on the wrist. Frankly, I don’t care what online reviews say about products, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating and I’ve been caught out in the past by trusting what 100’s of people said about a certain product.

Ultimately though, cleaning is hard work and for many a boring job (I am one of the few who love it & have since made a very good career out of it), and manufacturers can do what they like to their cleaners to make them look and sound better. That’s up to them, I’m not bothered (though do forgive me if I pull out what hair I have left if I hear the word “technology” used one more time), but you know I use some of the most basic bog-standard equipment & products to do my job, yet my clients are always astounded at the results and at how much I get done in the time I am in their home. It’s not all about the “technology”, the fading “knowledge” of how to clean (not to mention elbow-grease) is what’s needed.

Member

I like Busy Bear’s pragmatic down to earth comments, and add that stretch hoses on uprights are like doing a gym workout with springs, as well, when used for close working on stairs with the machine put on step between me and step being cleaned I find the flex weighty and cumbersome. So I too use any of our cylinders on stairs, and our powerful heavy upright on large carpets.

Which leads me to comment ‘off topic’ that, in reaction to the new well intentioned EU law on halving the power of vacuum cleaners, I intend to acquire the skill of using two vacuum cleaners at once. It shouldn’t be difficult, simply copy cross country skiier’s style, it’ll save the time of going to a gym to use their walking treadmills.

Member
Marion Arbuckle says:
31 May 2013

I have an awkward bend at the bottom of my stairs and find my Dyson upright doesn’t reach to the top unless I balance it on a stair. I have bought a hand held small vacuum cleaner which does the work very well.

Member
Fiona says:
2 June 2013

After eons of searching I recently bought an Oreck which came with a hand held vacuum. The hand held Oreck is a star. I’ve been looking for it all my life. Stairs will now be cleaned once a month instead of once a year!

Member

I follow the manufacturer’s instructions in the user guide for my Grandparents; 1947 Hoover Junior upright cleaner, which I use to do the job:

“Depress the foot pedal to switch the motor on. Place the handle in the upright position and grasp with one hand at the base of the handle and the other hand at the top. Slowly guide the cleaner from left to right and back over the tread. Lift the cleaner off the tread and turn to face the opposite direction. Reposition on the same tread and repeat the left to right action. Lift the cleaner to the next tread and repeat until the stairs are all cleaned. In this manner your stair carpet will be deeply cleaned and the pile rejuvenated using the famous ‘beats as it sweeps as it cleans’ action.”

I grew up cleaning mum and dad’s stairs in exactly this way with their 1962 Hoover Junior (which mum still uses) and I’ll keep on doing mine this way. There is little wrist strain as the cleaner is very light weight, there is no danger of the cleaner toppling on me as I pull the hose because there is no hose to pull, and there is no frustration of the hose not reaching for the same reason.

I clean the stairs about 4 times a week in this way – it only takes about 10 minutes to do the flight or 14 stair treads and the quarter-landing. Once every two or three weeks I connect the hose and tools to the cleaner and use these to get into the nooks and crannies at the ends of the stair rods and at the edges of the runner.

All your new-fangled Pana-Dys-olux cleaners can’t do that can they?!

Had to laugh at a Kirby salesman once – he tried showing me how to ‘convert’ the Kirby tradition to use on the stairs. In the time it took him to make it ready to use I’d got the Hoover, plugged in, vac’d the whole staircase and was waiting for him to start. Needless to say the Kirby could not pick up what the Hoover did either.

Member

Forgot to say … in answer to Adrian’s last point in the intro … I have 8 vac’s……………

Hoover junior (1947 model 375 – Grandparents’ – daily use upstairs and stairs)
Hoover Junior (1970’s model 1354 – daily use downstairs)
Hoover Junior (1957 model 1354A – mint condition, used only to show off)
Hoover Senior (1960’s Model 652 – mint condition, used rarely)
Hoover Dustette (1960’s – used for cleaning the three piece suite)
Electrolux Widetrack Professional (Model C2112, about 1984 – used to impress!)
Hoover Constellation (1970’s version – used for high level cleaning as it has the ‘duble-stretch’ (TM) hose and amazing suction – spiders don’t stand a chance)
Hoover Commercial (Model 912 – used downstairs quite often as it’s almost silent, lifts the carpets off the floor and all cat hair out of them in seconds and the 15″ wide brush makes the job take seconds to complete)

Member

I have one very good Miele cylinder vacuum and an almost useless hand held dustbuster.. I do not have space for even one more. Where on earth do you keep 8 vacuums and why do you have so many?

Member

And vacuum the stairs four times a week? I reckon that Dave does not like throwing away decent quality electrical goods that are still in good condition. Or the ginger cat is moulting. 🙂

Don’t you collect anything Figgerty?

I’ve got the Miele for the bungalow (so no stairs to worry about), a 12 volt one for the car and the 33 year old Electrolux for the garage and when the car deserves a treat.

Member

Poor Jasper (Ginger cat) died 3 years ago now, but Prudence moults even more than Jasper did. Not that the Hoover’s notice!

912 lives in Pantry with Constellation and 1970’s 1354 Junior. 375, 1354A, 652 and E’lux widetrack live in study-c*m-spare bedroom … though when a friend came to stay for 4 months we did have to evict the E’lux from teh wardrobe and lie it flat under the bed for a while.

Dustette lives in a drawer in a chest of drawers in the study.

Wavechange is right – onl the 375 (grandma’s) and the 912 were actually bought by me or my family; the others are cleaners that people have discarded because they were stupid enough to be taken in by flashy adverts for other machines which have yonks ago bitten the dust and been consigned to landfill. One lady threw out her Hoover Junior 119 (1955 model) to replace it with a daft Dyson and then came to me about 6 months later with a massive list of grumbles about the Dyson, top of which were it’s failure to pick up bits of cotton from when she was dress-making and the obscene cost of filters for it, and asked if she could have her 119 back. She’s still using the 119 now, another 7 years down the line, and gave the Dyson to the bin men.

Member

If I had a larger house I would have probably have more vacuum cleaners from my late parents’ house. One went to a family member and I checked the other for safety and gave it to a charity shop. My parents must have disposed of their 1940s Hoover Dustette hand-held cleaner that had belonged to my grandparents. I can’t say it was very effective at cleaning stairs but it was old and interesting, complete with a brown bakelite BS 546 5 amp round-pin plug.

Member

I am guilty of having too much, crockery, bedding, books and clothing, but they all fit in reasonably well, or so I think. I also have two kettles, one in use and the old slightly leaking one is in the loft. I would love to collect cars but not having a garage or the money to buy good quality old cars rules that out.

Member

You sound just like me ….. Collections galore!

Member

Yes indeed, and I would have much more if I had the space. It would seem that the Hoovers you have were built to last, unlike today’s cleaners.

Member
Busy Bear says:
3 June 2013

Hoover 912? Drop that on your foot and you’ll know about it!!! Bullet-proof to say the least.

Member

Absolutely – but a great cleaner that will never fail.

Member
Anthony Jordan says:
8 June 2013

My solution for easy stair cleaning was to purchase the 3.9 metre hose (Numatic part number 601303) for my Henry hoover. With the hoover at the bottom of the stairs, I use the upholstery nozzle with slide-on brush (included parts 601145, 601146) attached to the hose to comfortably reach every one of the 12 steps and the edge of the upstairs landing.

Member

Our staircase has two bull nosed stairs at the bottom, three leading round the first newel post, two straight stairs followed by nine around the next newel post onto the top landing, so we turn through 270 degrees each time we ascend or descend. Our Sebo Automatic X4 (upright) came with an extension hose and a Turbo brush so cleaning our near spiral staircase is a doddle. Just park the vacuum cleaner at the bottom, connect the hose and turbo brush and away you go. Simples!!

Member
Yvonne Ruge says:
12 June 2013

I have a Dyson DC33 which has ample flex and a long flexible hose BUT then the trouble begins: a) the hose, unlike the wand, has no attachment moulding so the tool keeps falling off and b) the suction in the hose without the wand is such that it refuses to stay extended. Result: vacuuming the stairs (or upholstery) is like doing battle with an octopus.

I’ve raised this with the Dyson helpline, the operator immediately tried this out at the other end of the line and admitted it was a hitherto unnoticed design fault and would be addressed.

It’s a point worth noting in further tests at Which?.

Member
curts says:
15 June 2013

I use the hose and turbo brush of my Miele Dog & Cat upright. I put the vacuum at the base of the stairs, set it for maximum suction, and work my way up. After the first several stairs I extend the metal tube so I don’t have to bend over. The hose just reaches to the top step.

Member
Chris J Dixon says:
17 June 2013

I place my Dyson DC07 at the foot of the stairs, attach the stair tool to the hose and work down from the top step. Although the stretchy hose reaches the top OK, the effort to keep it extended against the suction force makes this a difficult task, and one that I would imagine anybody with any strength or mobility problems could find too hard.
Perhaps Which testing should include hose length and effort to keep it extended in use.
Back when I had an old Hoover upright, the beater would run with the handle vertical, and it could be run sideways across the steps. A Henry hose worked fine: cylinder on the landing to work down halfway, move the machine to the bottom and finish. The force on the Dyson stretchy hose makes it unsafe to have the cleaner at the top of the stairs.

Member
Busy Bear says:
18 June 2013

Chris, I like your reply. The problem is, for generations people have known that vacuuming stairs is a difficult task and one which has no perfect solution. How many people back in the day owned both an upright and a cylinder vacuum, and used both extensively for different jobs? Quite a lot. However, twenty years ago Dyson brought out an upright cleaner with a hose long enough to stretch to the top of the stairs, and before anyone could even stop to see if that hose was going to split, the other manufactures followed suit. “Stair cleaning” hoses became the new normal, and were a huge selling point. Fast-forward to 2013 if you will, and a whole load of people now think that cleaning homes thoroughly can be achieved with just one cleaner. I don’t see how. I was taught that each style of cleaner has it’s uses and which sort is suited for what task. That’s why I use both styles. There isn’t -and I doubt ever will be- one cleaner of any style which will ever perform as well as a separate upright and cylinder ensemble.

Member
Tone says:
18 June 2013

As I said earlier (above), my old Dyson DC07 was ideal for cleaning the stairs. Its hose reached to the top step without difficulty. and I needed no other for the whole house. Then, unfortunately, I traded it in for a new DC50. And that wouldn’t reach up the stairs with its silly short hose. And I got no warning! As it was another Dyson I expected it to be the same.
We definitely need hose length in Which reports, and preferably in the manufacturers’ details and packaging.

Member
jordan says:
21 June 2013

i have a vax power3 upright powerful yes, but the hose stretches but always pulls the upright down to the floor. id have to have someone hold the vac at the bottom to stop the hose retracting up to me and pulling it over and its not easy to keep lugging the thing up steps. the hoses on most uprights need to be looked at

Member
Busy Bear says:
21 June 2013

“the hoses on most uprights need to be looked at”

Well this is my point, a hose on an upright which worked as well as that of a cylinder would not physically fit on the back of the cleaner. That’s why the hoses are usually the stretchy type. The firm hoses are better, but are of course very short.

Member
Chris J Dixon says:
22 June 2013

That is the basic design flaw. There is such concentration on making the hose an integral part of the cleaner that its function is seriously compromised. Wouldn’t it just be so much easier to have a separate hose clipped on only when required? It could then be as long and manageable as the task actually requires. Just like the old Hoover had.
There are times when the original design was actually better then what “progress” has brought us.

Member
Busy Bear says:
22 June 2013

Well exactly. When I use an upright cleaner (and I do, all the time), the hose is there for getting into tight corners and places where I’d missed with the cylinder vac. But generally I find it so much easier to clean all the surfaces of a home -including hard floors- with a cylinder vac, and then finish the middle of carpeted rooms with the upright. I can’t bear using stretch-hoses when they are stretched out; the vacuum always seems to want to come with me.

Member
Ken. says:
28 June 2013

I have a Sebo Auto X4 upright vacuum cleaner, and find cleaning stairs no problem. Using a Turbo Brush for stairs on the tool handle with the stretch hose, and reversing the vacuum to the foot of the stairs, I release the handle and lay the dust bag housing on the bottom stairs then work my way down from the top. Very simple and easy method.

Member
Alan Shaw says:
3 July 2013

I have a 1998 Dyson DC01. I stand the Dyson at the foot of the stairs and extend the stretchable hose all the way up the stairs – 12 in number. (What I would say was an average staircase.)
There is a special tool for stairs which attaches.

Member
Dianne says:
13 July 2013

What great comments from everyone here and the humour is a big plus. We need an extra dollop of mental fun when we spend time researching the best way to clean stairs and still hope to be sane. I have 31 stairs in my new place so finding a better vacuum (I have given up on perfect) is really important. I have a Kenmore built in with a powerhead that roars like a fighter jet. It has been discontinued and it is still under warranty, but noise level is not something anyone monitors. The comments about getting an extension hose for canister vacuums is something I will check into as that could be a reasonable solution. Thanks to all for posting.

Member

I use a long extension hose that gives me 3 metres, then use the short hose on my SEBO Felix (it has 3 metres too) so that gives me 6 metres of stretch. I either use the tools on board or the air driven turbo brush by SEBO. I love that I can store the cleaning tools AND the turbo brush on board -everything is close to hand – you can’t do that with a Miele!

Member

I’ve vac’ed stairs since 12 yoa in 1957; then using a brown loud Hoover upright. The posting by Dave D from Hoovers guide (which I’d not read before (being a boy)) matches the way my Mom, who was a very practical lady, taught me. And like her, I’d use the flex pipe with T tool for the vertical faces of the steps and getting right into the corners. Since then and married, I often ‘voulunteer’ to do the vac’ing, our Electrolux upright is not so good or easy to use as was the hoover of former years, and being very heavy, my wife hates it. Of our AEG, Miel and Karcher vacs, the Miel 1500 is the easiest as it is light and will comfortably stand with stability on its back-end on the step in front of me.
On reflecting on all the comments above, I Googled for ‘long vacuum hoses’ and found that I can now buy an extension of up to 7 metres; which I’m sure my wife will also like, so’ll get it as an early birthday surprise gift. All I’ll have to do then, is find some where to put it away, and will be free to go out and play. Of the modern cleaning hoses, I’d criticise the designs of all at the handle end, where traps exist where the bellowed hoses enter, which can pinch the edge of on’e’s palm. The hose entries should be given a sizeable rim so that one can avoid the inadvertent painful pinches, which I can’t ever recall suffering from during my Hovering apprenticeship.