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How To Clean Carpet On Stairs

Published November 23, 2023 by Green Kleaning Services, LLC

Cleaning carpeted stairs is a task that often seems daunting but is essential for maintaining a neat and hygienic home. Anytime I visit a client's home to perform a carpet cleaning, I notice that carpeted stairs usually take the brunt of abuse along with other high traffic areas of the house where the carpet is installed.

Stairs, being a high traffic area, accumulate dirt, dust, and stains more quickly than other common areas. Besides the house's main entrance where dirt first hits the floor through constant foot traffic, the stairs can require cleaning more often than the rest of the carpet in the house.

woman cleaning carpeted stairs

Key Takeaways

Key Point Description
Safety Precautions Emphasizes wearing sturdy shoes, managing moisture, and electrical safety during cleaning.
Choosing Cleaning Methods Guides on selecting suitable cleaning tools and pre-treating stains for different carpet types.
Cleaning Efficiency Advises on cleaning direction, vacuuming techniques, and using carpet cleaners effectively.
Eco-Friendly Practices Focuses on using biodegradable products and minimizing environmental impact.
Post-Cleaning Care Highlights the importance of grooming, deodorizing, and final vacuuming for a pristine finish.

To clean the carpet on the stairs, you have to vacuum thoroughly, then use a carpet cleaner or a mixture of carpet shampoo and water applied with a scrub brush. After cleaning, grooming is recommended to invigorate the carpet fibers. The stairs have to air dry completely before vacuuming again to remove any residual dirt.

I'll walk you through these steps on how to clean carpet on stairs, ensuring they look as good as new before having to call a professional in. Knowing how to maintain clean carpeted stairs will prolong the need for a full deep clean of your carpets until such time as needed.

Clean Carpet Stairs While Ensuring Safety, Effectiveness, and Efficiency

Carpeted stairs are a common feature in many homes, perhaps less so than in the past but nonetheless still employed to provide comfort and aesthetic appeal.

However, they can also be a challenge to keep clean, especially with regular and heavy foot traffic.

Before we get into the steps to clean carpeted stairs let's focus on safety, effectiveness, efficiency, and environmental considerations.

sturdy shoes

Safety First!

Prevent Slips and Falls: Always wear sturdy shoes or slippers while cleaning the stairs. This reduces the risk of slipping, especially when the carpet is wet.

Carpet Cleaner Usage: Avoid over-wetting the carpet if you're using a carpet cleaning machine. Excessive moisture can create a slipping hazard and can make treated stains reappear after drying. Mold growth is also a concern with a carpet that is too wet.

Electrical Safety: Before starting cleaning, turn off and unplug any nearby electrical outlets to avoid any electrical hazards.

Effectively Combat Stubborn Stains And Embedded Dirt

Appropriate Cleaning Method: Choose a cleaning technique that suits the type of carpet you have. Whether it’s a lightweight vacuum for light cleaning or a more robust steam cleaner for deep cleaning, the right tool is crucial.

Pre-treat Stains: Address stubborn stains with your choice of cleaning solution in a spray bottle before tackling the whole staircase. This ensures a more uniform clean.

Solution Testing: Test your cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t damage the carpet. This is especially important for carpeted floors with unique materials or dyes.

Complete Drying: Allow the stairs to dry completely before using them again to prevent re-soiling and to maintain carpet hygiene.

Efficiency In Your Cleaning Technique

Cleaning Direction: Start at the top of the stairs and work your way down. This prevents dirt and debris from being tracked onto cleaned areas. If cleaning by hand using a circular motion to scrub is best.

Vacuuming: A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment is effective for quickly loosening and removing dirt. This step is essential for both the pre-cleaning and post-cleaning phases. In fact, I believe it to be the most important step in carpet cleaning.

Carpet Cleaner Instructions: If using a carpet cleaner, follow the machine's instructions carefully. Adjust settings according to the level of soiling and carpet type for optimal results.

person holding non toxic products

For the Environmentally Conscious

Eco-friendly Cleaners: Opt for biodegradable cleaning solutions and eco-friendly carpet cleaners. These products are better for the environment and often just as effective as conventional cleaners.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Harsh chemicals can harm your carpet and the environment. Instead, consider natural alternatives. At Green Kleaning Services we pride ourselves on using only green products for the safety of everyone in the house as well including children and pets.

Proper Disposal: Ensure you dispose of any cleaning residues or used water responsibly to minimize environmental impact.

Additional Considerations When Cleaning Your Carpet Stairs

Remove Stains: Address different types of carpet stains - such as pet, food, or ink stains - with targeted treatments. We won't focus on specifics of each type of stain since it is beyond the scope of this article. For more specific information on different types of stains and specific approaches required refer to this article.

Natural Cleaning Products: Explore the use of natural products like baking soda and vinegar for cleaning your carpet stairs. These are safe, effective, and environmentally friendly alternatives.

Daily Maintenance: Regular vacuuming and prompt stain removal are key to keeping your carpet stairs clean and extending their lifespan.

Choosing a Carpet Cleaner: If you plan to do this yourself regularly it might make sense to purchse a carpet cleaner that fits your specific needs, considering factors like carpet type, frequency of use, and environmental preferences.

Troubleshooting: Be prepared to handle common carpet cleaning challenges, such as overly wet carpets, residual stains, or uneven cleaning.

Steps To Clean Carpeted Stairs

I. Preparation

Vacuuming the Stairs: Start by thoroughly vacuuming the stairs. Use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a brush attachment to effectively loosen and remove dirt, pet hair, and debris from the carpet fibers- a handheld vacuum can be easier to work with as well. Removing loose dirt and preparing the carpet for deeper cleaning is an imperative step that cannot be skipped.

Clearing the Area: Ensure all furniture or objects are removed from the stairs to provide unobstructed access. This makes the cleaning process more efficient and prevents any damage to your belongings.


Pre-treating Stains: Identify any stubborn stains or heavily soiled areas. Pre-treat these spots with a stain remover, adhering to the product's instructions. This step is vital for tackling tough stains and ensuring an even cleaning outcome.

A Word About Carpet Shampooing...

At Green Kleaning Services, LLC we don't use carpet shampoo for commercial and residential cleaning of carpets, area rugs, and upholstery. We employ various products for different situations and carpet types. We also use carpet cleaning machines with strong suction that will extract all residue from the solutions as well as dirt and debris.

Carpet shampooing is mostly an outdated technique for cleaning carpets. "Shampooing a carpet" tends to be a catch-all phrase for carpet cleaning. Far better ways have been developed to clean carpets efficiently, and more thoroughly without the use of shampoo products that can leave residue if not properly flushed out.

It is still employed by professionals but with the advent of new techniques such as low moisture cleaning, encapsulation, and hot water extraction using a professional steam cleaner this method is on the decline.

Remember that carpet acts like a sponge and traps a lot of dirt and debris. This is also true for any product that is applied and then not extracted completely.

I only expand on this method as it can be a viable option–though more time consuming–as long as care is taken to perform the cleaning correctly.

II. Cleaning

Method 1: Cleaning by Hand Using Carpet Shampoo

  1. Shampoo Mixture: Combine carpet shampoo with water as directed on the package. Opt for a shampoo suitable for your carpet type, especially if you have special materials like wool carpet.

  2. Scrubbing: Apply the mixture to the stairs using a soft scrub brush. Scrub gently to work the shampoo deep into the carpet fibers, paying extra attention to stained areas and high-traffic zones.

  3. Blotting Excess: Use a clean cloth to blot up the excess shampoo. This helps in lifting the dirt out of the carpet.

  4. Rinsing: Rinse the stairs with clean water to remove any shampoo residue. This is an important step. Leaving any residue on the carpet will attract dirt faster. This will cause you to have to clean the carpeted stairs again.

  5. Drying: Blot the stairs again with a clean cloth to absorb excess water. Allow the stairs to air dry completely, which might require leaving them undisturbed overnight.

Method 2: Using a Carpet Cleaning Machine

  1. Carpet Cleaner Setup: Fill your carpet cleaning machine with water and a carpet cleaner solution. Ensure you follow the specific instructions for your machine.

  2. Cleaning Head Attachment: Attach the appropriate head to the carpet cleaner, ideally one designed for stairs.

  3. Cleaning Process: Start cleaning from the top stairs and work your way down. This prevents dirty water from dripping onto cleaned areas.

  4. Drying: Let the stairs air dry completely. You might use a floor fan to speed up the drying process in a high-traffic area.

III. Post-cleaning

Groom the carpet: Although this is an optional step, grooming the carpet with a carpet rake or a brush helps dry the fibers faster. This is a step often employed by professional carpet cleaners to promote fast drying and also improve the look of the carpet.

Final Vacuuming: Once the stairs are completely dry, vacuum them again. This is necessary for removing any residual dirt and ensuring your stairs are impeccably clean.

Deodorize: There are various products on the market for deodorizing but the same as when you choose a cleaning product make sure what you choose to deodorize doesn't leave a heavy residue.

Additional Tips

  • Repeat if Necessary: For deep cleaning or heavily soiled stairs, you may need to repeat the cleaning process or call in the professionals. Carpet cleaners employ various solutions to tackle even the toughest of soiled carpets.

  • Immediate Stain Removal: Address spills and stains immediately to prevent them from setting in.

  • Carpet Protection: Consider using a carpet protector to extend the cleanliness and life of your stair carpet.

  • Regular Maintenance: Regular vacuuming can significantly reduce the need for frequent deep cleaning.

Carpet Cleaning Method Comparison

We did some comparisons with these two methods and included professional services as well. We based this test on effectiveness, time consumption, and cost. As illustrated:

  • Hand Cleaning: Shows moderate effectiveness, the highest time consumption, and the lowest cost.

  • Machine Cleaning: Offers improved effectiveness, reduced time consumption compared to hand cleaning, and a moderate cost.

  • Professional Services: Scores highest in effectiveness, has the least time consumption, but is the most expensive option.

cleaning method comparison chart

Completing The Steps To A Cleaner Path Forward

Cleaning carpeted stairs effectively involves a combination of thorough preparation, appropriate cleaning methods, and attention to safety and environmental considerations. Prioritize safety by wearing sturdy footwear and handling electrical outlets carefully, and opt for eco-friendly cleaning solutions to minimize environmental impact.

Start by vacuuming with a brush attachment to remove stubborn dirt and pre-treating stains. Choose between hand cleaning with carpet shampoo or using a carpet cleaner, and always work from the top down to maintain efficiency.

During post-cleaning, grooming the carpet will help dry quickly and improve the appearance of the carpet. A final vacuum ensures a pristine finish once it is completely dry.

By following these steps, you can keep your carpeted stairs in top condition, enhancing both the appearance and longevity of your home's interior.

Finally, if your time just doesn't allow for you to clean the stair carpet have Green Kleaning Services take that off your plate. We are available for free estimates and a hassle-free cleaning experience.


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