Keeping your carpeted stairs clean has fantastic health benefits! Regular maintenance reduces the levels of irritants and germs in your home among other advantages.
Some cleaning methods eliminate dust mites, mold spores, and fleas. Moreover, your mood brightens when your carpeting looks pristine.
In this post, I cover five ways to revive your carpet fabric, both with and without machines. You can even make cleaning products with what’s already in your kitchen.
Below are some step-by-step guides and process to clean your carpet on stairs. Soon, sprucing up your carpeted stairs will be fun for you!
Table of Contents
- Vacuum Cleaning Carpeted Stairs
- Steam Cleaning Carpeted Stairs
- Shampooing Carpeted Stairs
- Cleaning Stair Carpeting by Hand
- Which is Better: Shampoo or Steam Cleaning?
- How often should you clean carpeted stairs?
- How to Protect Carpeted Stairs?
Vacuum Cleaning Carpeted Stairs
Use optimal equipment.
For navigating stairs safely, a lightweight vacuum is best. A heavy, upright model is cumbersome to lift and carry. Plus, you can’t keep it steady on your steps. Thus, it poses the hazards of falling on you or hurtling down the staircase.
To avoid such perils, choose a vacuum that’s either:
- – hand-held
- – cordless and rechargeable
- – a canister model, with a long power cord
You also need three attachments. A crevice tool, pictured below, is a tapered rod with a square opening at the tip. It draws the gunk sitting on stair ledges and hiding in the corners.
A brush head, shown below, loosens embedded dirt. A canister vacuum comes with a motorized, rotating brush head, giving more suctioning oomph.
This tool is also called a power nozzle or turbo brush.
Both a crevice tool and brush head fit onto an extension wand, a long plastic tube.
Check your vacuum dirt collector and stairs for debris.
Before vacuuming, examine your machine’s collecting system. For the best suction, you want an empty dust bag or canister. If your vacuum has a filter, ensure that it’s clean, too.
Next, remove any stair clutter that could jam your vacuum, such as small toys and large pieces of debris.
Bring your machine to the upper landing, vacuuming from top to bottom. Now, you’ll isolate debris rather than spreading it. Due to the effect of gravity, dirt collects more on lower steps.
Do you own a corded vacuum? If so, make sure you have ample cord slack. This way, if you pull the cord, the machine won’t ram you from behind.
With your crevice tool, vacuum the corners and edges of each step. Once you reach the bottom of the staircase, return to the top. Then, switch to the brush head. Using this device, vacuum the main sections of each step:
- – tread – the flat part on which you stand
- – riser – the vertical surface between treads, connecting them.
For a visual point of reference, see this image.
To vacuum efficiently, alternate between the treads and risers, working from top to bottom.
Steam Cleaning Carpeted Stairs
If your carpet has ground in dirt or stains, steam cleaning should erase them. Conversely, vacuuming won’t.
A steamer forces hot water vapor into carpet fibers with a “steam mop.” The pressurized steam lifts dirt, grime, oils, and stains from the fabric.
Meanwhile, the steam kills fleas, dust mites, mold spores, and mildew fungus. Then, the machine suctions the debris and water, leaving your carpet damp.
WARNING – Steam cleaning only suits synthetic materials. If your carpet has natural fibers, such as wool, hot water will shrink them.
Obtain a Steamer
Does the carpet get soiled often? If so, consider buying a steamer from a hardware store, using it as needed.
If your stairs require little heavy-duty cleaning, you can rent a steamer from your local home improvement store.
In that case, try to steam clean your stair carpet twice a year. Ideal times are late spring and early fall. At these junctures, you can open windows to speed carpet drying. If you have allergies, it helps to use a steamer when the seasons change.
Prepare your carpet.
Choose a block of time when your staircase will be vacant. That’s because, after steaming your carpet, it needs to dry undisturbed.
If you walk on wet carpet prematurely, it will soak up new dirt, gripping it tenaciously. Thus, your next cleaning session will be all the more difficult.
Before steaming, vacuum the steps. The machine will suction any hair and large dirt particles, whereas the steamer won’t. Plus, the vacuum will fluff the carpet fibers, enabling a more thorough cleaning.
Note that steamers don’t extract heavy stains. So, if your carpet is badly discolored, apply a stain removing product.
Do you have toddlers or pets? In that case, use a natural spot cleaner versus a commercial formula. One option is mixing a 50/50 solution of hot water and vinegar.
Dip a rag in the solution, dabbing the stain with it. Avoid scrubbing the splotch, as this will drive it deeper into your carpet.
Prime the steamer.
Fill the machine with hot water, stopping at the maximum fill line on the tank. Rather than adding detergent, consider using half vinegar and half hot water.
This way, your stair carpet is safer for those sensitive to chemicals, including children and pets. Plus, natural cleaners are ecologically sound.
Next, plug the steamer cord into a power outlet, allowing time for the water to reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature kills mold spores, fungi, dust mites, and fleas.
Test a patch of carpet.
Place the steam mop on the left corner of the bottom step. With a preliminary test, you’ll know if steaming will leave your carpet fabric and color intact.
First, hold the nozzle perpendicular to the step. Then, using short strokes, push the wand back and forth across the carpet a few times.
If the test area is okay, start steaming.
Carry the machine to the upper landing. Then, sweep the nozzle across each step, back and forth, at least five times.
Be sure to work slowly. If you zip over the carpet, the steamer will suction little water. Now, your carpet will be soaked, at risk for mold and mildew.
For a brief demonstration, see the following video clip. However, rather than starting at the bottom step, head to the top of your staircase.
Let the carpet dry fully before walking on it.
After steam cleaning, it can take six to 12 hours for stair carpet to dry. You can quicken the process in several ways:
- – turn on air conditioning
- – run a dehumidifier on a high setting
- – open windows, if nearby
- – place a fan on the staircase landing, angled downward
Meanwhile, don’t use the stairs, if possible. After asking your family members to comply, block the entrance. If you must step on the carpet, remove your shoes, replacing them with plastic bags.
Shampooing Carpeted Stairs
Commercial carpet shampoos are designed to loosen embedded dirt. They don’t always eliminate stains. Also, delicate fabrics can get damaged, such as by fading and shredding.
Hence, before shampooing all your stairs, test a swatch first. Or, if your finances permit, hire a professional carpet cleaning company. The technicians will know which products and techniques are safe for your particular staircase.
If you’re confident that your carpet can handle shampoo, here’s how to proceed.
Set aside 15 hours.
Choose a time when you don’t need to use the stairs. After shampooing, the carpet requires at least 15 hours to dry.
First, sweep the stairs with a stiff broom, targeting the edges and corners. Start at the top landing, working your way down. Then, vacuum the carpeting with your brush attachment.
Apply shampoo, drying each step as you go.
Following the product directions, work the shampoo into the carpet with a scrub brush. Stop scrubbing when the solution foams. By taking this cue, carpet discoloration is less likely.
Clean each step individually, followed by drying with absorbent towels. Try to be thorough. Otherwise, the wet fabric will attract mold, mildew, and a musty smell.
Let the fabric air-dry.
Avoid using the stairs until all the moisture has evaporated.
This time, use your crevice tool.
Cleaning Stair Carpeting by Hand
Don’t worry if your vacuum is broken or steam cleaning exceeds your budget. Here’s how to spruce up your stair carpet without machines.
Wield your broom and dustpan.
Using a broom with stiff bristles, sweep each step from the top of the staircase downward. Include the carpet edges and corners. At the bottom of the stairs, collect all the debris with a dustpan.
Does stubborn hair resist your efforts? If so, tackle it with a lint roller.
Clean your carpet with a natural product.
Below are four options. With each, consider investing in knee pads, working from the top to the bottom of your stairs.
- large bucket
- gallon of warm water
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- scrub brush
Pour the vinegar and water into the bucket, mixing well. Then, dip the scrub brush into the solution. Work it into the carpet, using vertical, horizontal, and circular strokes.
Avoid soaking the fabric, as this will lengthen the drying time, inviting mold and mildew. If the vinegar solution gets too murky, replace it with a fresh batch.
After scrubbing each step, empty the bucket, filling it with cool water. Dip the towel into the water, wring it out tightly, and wipe each step.
Then, let the carpet dry. You can speed the process with the above methods under the steam cleaning section. They’ll also quickly diffuse the vinegar smell.
Use this method to lift stains, neutralize odors, and brighten your carpet.
- spray bottle
- warm water
- ¼ cup baking soda
Pour the water and baking soda into the spray bottle, shaking well. Mist the carpeting with the solution. Then, let the mixture sit for three hours.
Since the small amount of baking soda dissolves in water, there’s no powdery residue to vacuum.
Liquid Laundry Detergent
Does your carpeting have tough stains and stubborn dirt? In that case, consider using laundry detergent. Be sure to test a carpet swatch first, ensuring the product won’t harm the fabric.
- large bucket
- ¼ cup liquid laundry detergent
- gallon of warm water
- stiff scrub brush
- absorbent rags
Mix the water and laundry detergent in the bucket. Next, dip the brush into the solution, scrubbing each carpeted step in circular motions.
As needed, replace the dirty water with fresh cleaning solution. Avoid using more than ¼ cup of detergent at a time. Otherwise, the fabric will get too sudsy, requiring more work to remove it.
After cleaning each step, empty the bucket, filling it with cool water. Dip a rag in the water, and wring it well. Then wipe each step, removing the soap completely, leaving no trace. Otherwise, the carpet will be stiff after drying.
Salt, Vinegar, and Essential Oil
This formula deodorizes your carpet and tackles stains, leaving a pleasant scent. Ideal essential oils are lemongrass, eucalyptus, orange, lemon, lavender, and citronella.
WARNINGS – Don’t use this method if you have pets! Many essential oils can harm or even kill them. Also, essential oil doesn’t suit stairs with exposed wood, possibly inflicting damage.
- large spray bottle
- warm water
- essential oil
In the spray bottle, mix one part vinegar with two parts water. For every cup of water, add one teaspoon of salt and eight drops of essential oil.
Shake the bottle, misting a small area of carpet as a test. If the color stays the same, that’s a green light!
So, spray each step with the solution, working it into the carpet with a rag. When finished, wipe all the stairs with clean, damp rags.
NOTE – After cleaning your carpeted stairs manually, it takes six to 10 hours to dry. The exact time depends on your indoor temperature, humidity, and air circulation.
Which is Better: Shampoo or Steam Cleaning?
Steam cleaning has several advantages over shampoo, as follows.
Unlike store-bought shampoos, steam cleaning can be chemical-free. Thus, your carpets have no caustic residues, making them safe for children, pets, and those sensitive to chemicals.
Some steamer manufacturers advise using a commercial cleaning product with their machines. However, white vinegar is a noble substitute. While lifting stains, it deodorizes and sanitizes your carpet.
Pour one part vinegar and two parts hot water into the soap receptacle.
Steam disinfects your carpet.
The bristling temperature kills mold spores, mildew, germs, dust mites, and fleas, including their eggs. Some carpet shampoos wipe out fleas but not their eggs. Furthermore, they don’t destroy all germs.
Compared with shampooing, steaming is less work.
Shampooing your carpet requires using a scrub brush. A steam mop makes cleaning a breeze.
Steaming has a low risk of carpet discoloration.
Shampoos can fade fabrics.
Carpets dry faster after steaming than shampooing.
WARNING – Despite these benefits, remember that steaming can ruin natural carpet fibers.
How often should you clean carpeted stairs?
Refreshing your stairs regularly will reduce irritants and contaminants. Plus, you’ll prolong your carpet’s lifespan.
So, try to vacuum at least once weekly. By this, you’ll prevent debris from embedding in the carpet fibers. Shampooing can be done every three months.
The frequency of deep cleaning, either manually or with a steamer, depends on whether:
- – your stairs get lots of foot traffic
- – members of your household smoke
- – you have pets or children
- – you have allergies
According to your situation, use the following timelines as a guide:
- – every six months
- – once annually
- – three times per year
Take your cues from the degree of dirt, grime, stains, and odors.
How to Protect Carpeted Stairs?
Below are five ways to promote their longevity.
- – Remove stains as they occur.
- – Use window treatments, shielding your carpeting from direct sunlight.
- – Cover your carpeting with a clear vinyl runner.
- – Go shoe-less in your home, asking guests to do likewise, if safe for them.
- – Follow the above maintenance schedule.
Now, cleaning your carpeted stairs will leave you smiling!
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