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The Best Way to Clean Carpet on Stairs (Easy Tips & Tricks)

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Cleaning the carpet on the stairs is crucial in maintaining the hygiene of your home. Since stairs in the home generally receive a lot of traffic daily, they’re prone to getting dirty and tracking the dirt throughout the home. So, what is the best way to clean carpet on the stairs?

The best way to clean the carpet on the stairs is by using a vacuum and carpet cleaner. Vacuuming carpets on the stairs will remove dirt particles deep within the carpet fibers and make your home look much cleaner and more inviting. You can also use carpet shampoo to clean carpeted floors. 

Tan berber carpet on staircase with walnut stained oak end caps.

Carpets are a great way to add color, comfort, and style to a room, but they also collect dirt and allergens. 

Regular vacuuming is the best way to keep your carpets clean, but if you have stairs, it can be difficult.

Here are some tips for cleaning the carpet on the stairs.

Get more home cleaning tips here.

1. Vacuum Cleaner to Remove Dirt

If you’re looking for the best way to clean carpet on the stairs, you must consider using a vacuum cleaner! 

A dry vacuum will remove all the dust, animal hair and other contaminants that can cause allergies or respiratory problems. The vacuum cleaner also prevents problems such as mold, mildew, and bacteria growth.

As a homeowner, you need to be proactive about the upkeep of your space. Especially high traffic areas. The frequency of cleaning depends on how often the carpet is walked on and how dirty it is. 

Here are some of the benefits of vacuuming your carpeted stairs:

  • Vacuuming the stair carpet keeps the area free from dirt and dust.
  • Vacuuming keeps animal hair and fur at bay.
  • Vacuuming is quick and easy, as it does most of the work for you. You don’t have to worry about removing dirt manually.

The stairs are one of the most critical places in the house, but it is also where dirt and dust can gather very quickly as it is a high-traffic area.

Unlike carpeted floors, carpeted stairs are not as easy to clean. 

Consider a cordless vacuum or handheld vacuum if looking for a convenient method because you won’t have to worry about moving the cord around while going up or down the stairs. 

You also won’t have to pull the vacuum around with you, like you would with many corded vacuums.

You can purchase a cordless vacuum cleaner on Amazon.com, such as the Voweek 6 in 1 Stick Vacuum Cleaner, one of the best vacuum cleaners for carpeted stairs.

It is a lightweight vacuum cleaner ideal for cleaning the stairs (and other areas of your home).

How to Get a Thorough Cleaning with a Vacuum

If you have small children, pick up any toys or other large items before you vacuum. 

Even if you do not have children in the home, pick up any large objects before vacuuming and let the vacuum pick up the remaining dust particles.

Begin at the top of the staircase and work your way from the top of the stairs to the bottom of the stairs.

For deodorizing, sprinkle approximately a tablespoon of baking soda on carpet runner prior to vacuuming.

The cleaning process does not take a long time if using a cordless vacuum as you can move from the top stair downward on the individual stairs fairly quickly. 

But be sure to use the attachments to get into the nooks and crannies as that is where the majority of the dirt will be.

Dirt and debris stuck in crevices of carpet on stairs.

Lugging around a heavy vacuum cleaner isn’t terrible practical so the easiest way is definitely a lightweight vacuum that does not have a long power cord to fight.

If you have a full size vacuum, be sure to use the attachment tools to make it easier. Rest the vacuum on an individual stair while using the extension hose and brush attachment.

Before you know it, you’ll have clean carpet stairs.

2. Use a Carpet Cleaning Machine

The carpet on the stairs is one of the most overlooked parts of any home but certainly gets a lot of foot traffic. 

If you let the dirt accumulate over a long period, vacuuming alone won’t be enough and you might even have stubborn stains that need attention. 

In this case, you should also consider using a carpet cleaning machine such as a Rug Doctor for clean stairs.

Follow these easy steps to clean your carpeted stairs with a carpet cleaning machine:

  1. Prepare the area. The first step is remove all furniture and other items that block access to the stairs or any banisters or railings.
  2. Vacuum. You will also want to vacuum the carpet on your stairs before you begin cleaning them with a carpet cleaning machine. It will help loosen up any stubborn dirt and debris, such as pet hair, which can get caught in the machine and hamper its performance. This will also pick up paper scraps, etc.
  3. Prepare your carpet cleaning machine. Depending on your carpet cleaning machine, you will need to add a gallon of warm water together with a cleaning solution to the machine.
  4. Use the carpet cleaning machine. After you’ve vacuumed and prepared the cleaning machine, use it to remove any stains on your staircase’s carpets and rugs that might be there from spills or pet accidents.
  5. Squeeze the trigger. Begin cleaning by pulling the cleaning tool forward and backwards over the carpet while squeezing the trigger.
  6. Release the trigger. You want to repeat the process to remove the excess water on the carpet.
  7. Move the cleaning brush in a circular motion. This will not only help with cleaning the carpet but removing excess water.
  8. Allow the carpet to dry. The final step is to allow the carpet to air dry for at least a few hours before you can use the staircase again.

If needed, use absorbent towels to help expedite the drying process. Have fans, such as a floor fan, and a dry towel on hand before you begin.

You can purchase a carpet cleaning machine on Amazon.com, such as the Bissell Big Green Carpet Cleaner, which removes dirt from hard-to-reach areas on your stairs.

It comes with two large tanks to separate clean and dirty water. 

Watch the YouTube video below and learn how to use the Bissell Big Green Carpet Cleaner:

A less expensive, and more portable option for cleaning stairs is the Rug Doctor.

If you’re not interested in purchasing a carpet cleaning machine, consider renting one to avoid spending too much money.

You can rent it for a specific amount of time and give it back once you’re finished with it, so it’s a convenient option if you don’t plan on using it often.

3. Use Carpet Shampoo

Cleaning the carpet on the stairs is more difficult than cleaning a regular floor carpet because the steps are generally small. Therefore, many factors need to be considered when cleaning carpeted stairs.

Carpet shampoo is a good choice if you want to clean carpets effectively. And thankfully, cleaning the carpet on the stairs with carpet shampoo is not a complicated process. 

However, there are a few steps you need to take to make sure that your carpet is clean and free from any stains.

Here is a guide on how to clean tough stains and dirt on carpet using carpet shampoo:

  1. Prepare the area. First, ensure the area is free from clutter by picking up objects and putting them away. You can’t properly clean the stairs if there are things in the way!
  2. Vacuum the stairs. You then need to vacuum the stairs to get rid of loose dirt and dust. Go over them a few times if there is an excessive amount of debris.
  3. Shampoo your carpet. Use professional-grade carpet shampoo that is sure to clean deep within the fibers.
  4. Let it soak for a few minutes. After putting the carpet shampoo over the entire staircase, let it sit for a while (around 10 minutes) so that it can soak into the carpet fibers – this can help remove stains and dirt more easily.
  5. Rub the shampoo into the carpet. After waiting approximately 10 minutes, use a scrubbing brush or sponge to scrub the shampoo into the carpeting to break up any dirt or stains that may be embedded in the fibers of your carpet. 
  6. Rinse the carpet to remove the shampoo. When you are finished, rinse the shampoo from the carpet by using water, and dry your carpet with a towel or clean cloth before walking on it.
  7. Vacuum again once the carpet is fully dry. It’s important to ensure the carpet dries fully before vacuuming because it may cause damage to the vacuum cleaner. After vacuuming again, your stairs are ready to be walked on again!

4. Use White Vinegar

White vinegar can be used to clean many things around the home, including stair carpet!

Additionally, most white vinegar contains natural ingredients that will not harm your staircase carpet. Here are the steps to clean the carpet on the stairs with white vinegar:

  1. Mix a full cup of water with a half cup of white vinegar. Pour the mixture into a large spray bottle.
  2. Spray the stairs with the white vinegar solution and let it soak for a few minutes.
  3. After letting it soak for a while, use a cloth, sponge, or stiff brush to work the white vinegar solution into the carpet fibers.
  4. You should make sure that you clean every inch of the carpet, including its corners and edges, so no dirt will be left behind.
  5. You can also mix baking soda with diluted white vinegar for this purpose.
  6. Wipe the carpet with a clean cloth or towel and let the staircase dry.

RELATED: How to Clean Your Shower with Vinegar

Jug of white distilled vinegar sitting on wooden table.

White vinegar is not just about cleaning. It also has many other benefits that make it worthwhile such as: 

  • It is cheap and easy to get (you can find it in most supermarkets, and you may even have it in your cupboard already). 
  • Second, you can use it on any type of carpet. It won’t cause any damage! 
  • White vinegar can neutralize bad odors due to the acetic acid.

5. Steam Clean the Carpet

In addition to the physical strain of cleaning stair carpet, it can be a time-consuming process. However, if you are willing to invest time and effort, you can steam clean your carpeted stairs.

Steam cleaning the carpet on your stairs makes it easier to clean all the dirt and debris that collects between each stair.

When you vacuum or sweep these areas, dirt and other particles will get pushed into corners and hard-to-reach areas, eventually settling and creating an even more difficult mess to clean. 

However, with a steam cleaner, this dirt is loosened from its place so you can easily remove it. 

6. Hire a Professional 

If cleaning your stairs is too much effort, or if you’ve tried to clean them but the stubborn carpet stains remain, it might be a good idea to hire a professional carpet cleaner.

Professional cleaners generally have powerful tools (like steam cleaners and carpet cleaning machines) that they can use, and you don’t have to lift a finger.

However, hiring a professional will likely be costly, so you should have some money to spare for this method. Try some of the methods mentioned in this article before spending money on a professional!

Final Thoughts

Cleaning the carpet on the stairs is not an easy task. It requires a lot of time, dedication and effort to do it properly.

The best way to clean carpets on the stairs is to use a vacuum cleaner.

If that’s not enough, consider other methods on top of that, like carpet cleaning machines and carpet shampoo.


How do you clean carpeted stairs without a carpet cleaner?

To clean carpeted stairs without a carpet cleaner, first attempt to see if vacuuming the affected area will resolve the issue. If tough stains persist, spot cleaning will be necessary.

How do you clean badly stained stair carpet?

For heavy stained areas on carpeted stairs, spot cleaning will be required. Using a quality carpet cleaner and a stiff bristled brush, work the cleaner into the carpet in a circular motion. Use a damp, clean cloth to scrub the stain. Allow cleaner to dry and vacuum area thoroughly to remove loosened debris.

How do you refresh carpet on stairs?

To freshen and deodorize carpet on stairs, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto steps prior to vacuuming.

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Tan carpeted stairs with oak end caps.

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