How To Clean Carpeted Stairs

A step-by-step guide to cleaning carpeted stairs thoroughly.

Removing Dirt and Debris with a Brush

I always work from the top of the stairs to the bottom. This makes it easier to capture all the dirt and debris at the bottom of the stairs.

I use a brush with stiff bristles to loosen the stubborn dirt that a regular vacuum will struggle to pick up. Vigorously brushing the carpet loosens debris and dirt that has become deeply embedded in the carpet. Carpet fiber traps small rocks and other debris that a vacuum can’t pull up.

Sometimes there is stubborn dirt in the crevices where the steps meet. I use a crevice tool to wrench this dirt up so that I can vacuum it.

Use a Good Vacuum Cleaner to Remove Loose Dirt

Vacuum the steps, from top to bottom again, to remove surface dirt and any debris loosened with the brush.

It is important to use a good vacuum that effectively cleans the carpet and sucks up dirt. I recommend replacing the vacuum bag before tackling the stairs to make the most out of the cleaning.

The best vacuum for stairs is a cordless, lightweight model that doesn’t create a hazard. A large, bulky vacuum with a cord can result in a mishap or, at best, an uncomfortable vacuuming experience. Handheld vacuums make this process much easier physically.

Shampoo and Clean Each Stair

Now, the next step is thoroughly shampooing the stairs. You can do shampooing steps with a carpet shampooer, but I strongly recommend scrubbing the steps by hand. Although this is intensive and time-consuming, it is the best method to get the stairs super clean. Steam cleaning carpeted stairs can result in semi-cleaned stairs.

A heavy-duty carpet shampoo is best. To shampoo the stairs, spray or pour the shampoo on the carpet, let sit for a few minutes, and then vigorously scrub each step with a scrub brush. Always work from top to bottom!

Any tough stains should be specifically dealt with at this time because it is easier to scrub out stains when the carpet is wet and primed for stain removal.

Dry Them

Drying carpeted steps is a time-consuming but essential step. Carpeted stairs will take days to dry on their own. In that time, mold and bacteria can grow in and under the carpet creating a health hazard.

The carpet will be very wet after shampooing by hand and will need to be dried with a wet/dry vacuum or dried by hand. Drying by hand is a ton of work but saves money on renting or buying a carpet cleaner. Extra absorbent towels and cloths will soak up the remaining water well enough.

Another option is a drying carpet cleaner, but these can be ineffective if not top-quality. Many carpet shampooers suck up the extra water as it shampoos, so this is a quicker option. But, it can be tough to use such a large machine on a staircase.

Final Vacuum Step

Once the steps are as dry as possible, I leave them alone overnight or for 24 hours to let them dry completely.

When the stairs are fully dry, vacuum them again to remove any extra dirt or debris loosened and brought to the surface by the cleaning process. Starting at the top, carefully vacuum each step working down the staircase.

How Often Should You Clean Carpeted Stairs?

Carpeted stairs go through a lot of foot traffic, so they need to be maintained regularly. I recommend cleaning carpeted stairs once every three months. I would not wait more than six months between cleanings.

Can You Walk on the Stairs after Cleaning Them?

After the final vacuum, the stairs are fine to walk on. However, the time in which the wet carpet is drying, avoid walking on it. It is recommended to let them dry overnight when you won’t need to use them as much.

How Do You Get Deep Old Stains out of the Stair Carpet?

Dealing with stubborn stains is a headache, but there are solutions. There are excellent carpet stain removers out there that work like magic. For a home remedy, mix white vinegar, dish soap, and water, spray on the stain, and let sit for at least 10 minutes or up to a few hours before scrubbing out the stain with a brush.

Another home remedy is to sprinkle baking soda over the deep stain. Using a spray bottle, spray the area with hot water and let this mixture sit for a minimum of three hours. The longer it sits, the more effective it will work. It must be kept damp throughout this time, either through frequent misting or placing a damp cloth over the mixture. Once the mixture has sat for long enough, I vacuum it with a powerful vacuum. The stain should be gone after the vacuuming.