19 Tips On How To Keep Carpet Stairs Clean (easy, low-cost methods)

Do you need to know how to keep carpet stairs clean? It’s a tough job, right? I’ve researched the best methods around for keeping carpet stairs clean and saving money at the same time. In this post I’ll give you 19 actionable tips that will make keeping those stairs clean much easier.

It is one of those parts of home life that you can take care of, and then save plenty of money in cleaning bills. You can also reduce wear and tear with regular cleaning, which means your carpets last longer and you save even more money. This post will take you through how to keep carpet stairs clean without too much stress and hard work.

The problem with carpet is that it traps a lot of dirt and germs. This builds up over time until you have an unhealthy area of your home. The only way to deal with this is by giving carpet areas a regular clean. Stairs are no different. These high-traffic areas can become smelly, dirty and eventually unhealthy. Regular vacuuming helps, but sometimes you need to get serious about the dirt and stains on the stairs.

The post covers:

  1. The quickest way to get the job done
  2. How to make your stair carpet last longer
  3. The homemade route

So let’s get straight into it.

How to keep carpet stairs clean: the quickest way to clean them

There are many different methods for cleaning stairs, but the hands-down quickest way to clean carpet stairs is to use a combination of machine cleaning and good preparation. A good vacuum cleaner will go some way towards getting things clean, but a proper carpet cleaning machine will make all the difference on carpeted stairs. It is just one of the most effective ways to get the job done.

There are some stains that a vacuum cleaner will not be able to remove. A steam cleaner may be able to refresh your carpet and make it smell better, but true cleaning will not be possible without solid preparation. 

Step 1

In this first step you need to work hard to make sure the area is prepared for cleaning. You need to remove any dirt that is stuck deep in the carpet. This stubborn dirt and any other dirt lying around the stairs needs to go before you start cleaning. Be extra careful to make sure there are no carpet tacks lying around too.

Find a stiff broom or a clean scrub brush that has stiff bristles. If you don’t have a brush like this in the home you can buy one or use the brush attachment that most vacuum cleaners have. Go right to the top of the staircase and work your way down the stair treads using the brush to get rid of that stubborn dirt. It takes plenty of effort, but if you don’t get rid of it, it will mean your stairs will bever be truly clean. This part of stair carpet cleaning is absolutely vital.

Once you have got the dirt out of the first step at the top of the stairs, work your way down. As you are working your way down, brush the loosened dirt down the stairs. This will mean that most of the dirt will collect at the bottom of the stairs, making it easier to clean up at the end of the process.

Step 2

All of that dirt has now been loosened up and away from the carpet. It’s now time to vacuum it up.

Don’t listen to anyone who says that you have to spend a fortune on the top carpet stairs vacuum. That’s just a waste of money when you vacuum stairs. Instead, find any vacuum that is lightweight and/or a powerful cordless vacuum. This way you won’t have that added nightmare of carrying a heavy vacuum cleaner up the stairs. Basically, the right machine for the job is one that you can carry easily. You may even want to consider a handheld vacuum if you are more comfortable with this.

Standing at the top of the stairs, hoover up the dirt on the top stair, and then work your way down.

Step 3

Shampoo the stairs. Remember that your aim is to not only make stairs clean, but also hygienic and smelling fresh. You can purchase carpet shampoo from your nearest hardware store or supermarket. You can also go down the road of buying a carpet cleaning machine. This will cost a lot however, so it is worth thinking about your options carefully.

It’s also important to note that many carpet cleaners are large and bulky. You can buy a lightweight vacuum with special attachments that makes cleaning the stairs a lot easier. Shop around if you are determined to invest in one of these and find one that is light and powerful, but also not too expensive.

With the shampoo/carpet cleaner, your aim is to carry out a deep clean. This is why many people use a strong scrubbing brush. That method is laborious, but also very thorough. Again, you can choose to operate a carpet cleaner. Whichever way you do it, you have to make sure it is a deep and thorough clean.

Step 4

Now it is time to dry the stairs. If you have used a carpet cleaner, then the stairs will most likely be dried anyway, as part of the carpet cleaner process. Not every carpet cleaner will be able to suck up the moisture, but many do.

If you don’t have a carpet cleaner that dries the carpets, then you need to ensure that the surface is dry as quickly as possible. Absorbent towels or a cloth can be used in this situation. This is a major job though, and if you have the means to buy a carpet cleaner that has a drying mechanism, it is definitely the better option.

What happens if you don’t let it dry? You can expect to encounter mold and bacteria. If you just left the carpet to dry naturally, it could take days. As soon as your carpet stairs have been washed, you should be drying them immediately. This simply stops the bacteria becoming a problem.

Step 5

After having removed a lot of the moisture using your vacuum or towels, the last thing is to leave the carpeted stairs area to dry overnight. Then you will be able to give them a good vacuum. The result will be a cleaner, fresher smelling carpet, and no need to buy new carpet. Best of all, you have the piece of mind that comes with knowing you have clean stairs.

How to keep carpet stairs clean: steam cleaning

Remove any objects that can get in the way

If you want steam cleaning to work, then you need to make sure that you can get to the whole of the stair carpet. It speeds the job up and also makes sure that you can see every nook and cranny.

And besides, if you have a lot of ‘stuff’ on the stairs, it will be harder to ensure your carpet gets a chance to dry naturally.

Vacuum the floor

You will need to vacuum the carpet very carefully next. If you use a carpet steamer on carpet that has dirt and dust in it you could end up damaging the carpet. The vacuum will ensure that there is no loose dirt to cause problems. 

Let it dry naturally

Your carpet may feel dry when you have finished, but there will almost certainly be some moisture left in it. Leave the windows open and then ban access to the stairs for 24 hours. This means individual stairs can dry out naturally after the deep cleaning.

A few tips for steam cleaning

Start gently

Each steam cleaner is different. Start gently and then work up the power levels as you go.

Don’t force it

Thicker carpets tend to resist and make you feel like you need to push harder. Don’t do this. 

Take your time and let the cleaner work its way into things. Soon, you will have a nice and easy glide.

It’s not the ultimate solution

Taking care of your carpet means that you shouldn’t have to carry out steam cleaning more than once every couple of years. You will want to ask people to take their shoes off when they go up the stairs. You may even consider carpet runners or carpet protectors on the stairs. Many homes find that a vinyl carpet runner is very effective.

If you want to go down the route of installing a stair runner, see it in place in showrooms before you decide. They are great for keeping stairs clean, but you will need to get the right runner for your home.

Always have cleaning tools and fluids handy in case a terrible accident happens on the stairs and you have to step in to clean immediately. 

How to keep carpet stairs clean (for longer)

The above is all about getting the area clean. If you want to make sure that the carpets last longer and don’t need replacing then we need to up our game.

Clean your carpets without machines

One option that you can go for is using white vinegar. Before you get started, make sure you have everything on the list below:

  • Warm water
  • Bucket
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • Dry towel or clean cloth (you can use paper towels too)
  • Scrub brush
  • Knee pad

Fill the bucket to about halfway with a mixture of a quarter cup of white vinegar and a gallon of water. Grab the scrub brush and, starting at the top of the stairs, scrub each step carefully and thoroughly after dipping your brush in the solution. The secret here is to be thorough. The best way to do it is make sure that you scrub the brush hard, and in both horizontal and vertical motions. This will ensure the solution really gets into the fabric in the right place.

Use enough solution on your brush to make an impact on the stairs, but not so much that it soaks the brush. If you have too much solution on the brush, you could be encouraging mold on your stairs because of longer drying times. Once you’re done, fill the bucket again with clean water and soak the dry towel in that water. Then wipe the stairs. When it comes to the smell, just open up the windows and it will soon be gone.

Using baking soda

Baking soda is another solution when it comes to cleaning the carpets in high traffic areas. You can even expect to see baking soda brightening up the carpet, bringing out the natural color. Before you get going, make sure you have everything that is on the list below:

  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • Knee pad
  • Warm water
  • Spray bottle

Fill up the spray bottle (which you can find in any hardware store) with warm water and add a quarter cup of baking soda to it. Make sure you keep that measurement right, or you could find yourself having an extra cleaning job afterwards.

Simply spray the solution onto the stairs from top to bottom. Then, leave it to work its magic over the next 2-3 hours. During this time, the baking soda and water solution will absorb any dirt and any smells that the carpet is carrying. The solution will even make a good job of dealing with tough stains.

Going back to making sure you have used the correct amount of baking soda, you shouldn’t have to vacuum afterwards because the carpet should absorb that baking soda fully. If you have a small stain on the carpeted area, spot cleaning can be done by spaying your solution and then letting that rest for around half an hour. Then, vacuum or wipe the stairs with a wrung-out towel.

Using laundry detergent

This is another great way to clean carpet on stairs. Laundry detergent is designed to clean fibers after all. 

Before you get going, make sure you have everything that is on the list below:

  • ¼ cup liquid detergent
  • Bucket
  • Stiff cleaning brush
  • Dry towel
  • Knee pads

Pour a gallon of water into the bucket then add the quarter cup of detergent. Just like with baking soda, you have to be careful here. Too much detergent will leave a soapy residue on your stairs.

Scrub the stairs after dipping the brush into the solution. Go from top to bottom and use a strong circular motion (I find that the vertical and horizontal motion works better, but that is just me and my stairs). At the bottom of the stairs soak the towel in cold water and then wipe off the detergent with the towel. Don’t use too much water here if you want to avoid the possibility of mold.

If you do happen to use too much detergent then just go back over the stairs repeatedly with a tea towel to wipe off the excess.

Using carpet shampoo

Some argue that carpet shampoo is the best way to attack individual stains. Make sure that you give it a good scrub and that you have plenty of towels handy to wipe up afterwards. If you are going to use carpet shampoo, just remember to leave it for around 12-15 hours so that it has a chance to dry. Any excess water in the carpet can lead to mildew and mold.

The homemade route

Making up your own solutions to deal with dirty stair carpet is a great idea. Obviously, it will save you some money. But it also means that you can find yourself using ingredients that are pure and natural.

Vinegar and baking soda

Mix one cup of vinegar with a cup of water. Then add in a tablespoon of baking soda. Grab a spray bottle and fill it, before spraying carefully around and on the stain you are trying to get rid of. Just leave it for an hour and you can then clean it with a damp cloth or towel.

Baking soda and laundry detergent

Add some detergent to a cup of baking soda mixed in warm water. Spray the carpeted stairs with this solution once you have poured it into a bottle. Let the solution rest for two to three hours once you reach the bottom of the staircase. As the mixture soaks into the carpet, it helps remove dirt and stains as well as deodorizing it. Then rinse the carpet with fresh water and wipe it with a cloth.

Stiff Brushes and Dustpans

Whether they are on your stairs or in your room, all types of carpet accumulate dust over time. It is possible to prevent fading by cleaning them with a stiff brush or broom. You should sweep or brush the dust down the stairs starting at the top and working your way down.

The Sticky Tape Method

You can remove hair from your carpet fibers with a lint roller or sticky tape. Any hair present on the surface will be caught by the sticky side of the tape. This method, however, involves a lot of time and effort on every step, which is its only disadvantage.

How to keep carpet stairs clean: The four benefits of carpet cleaning

You may find that some of the work outlined in this post is a little laborious. To help keep your mind on the right track, take a look at the list below.

  1. Carpet cleaning extends the life of your carpet. All of that floor traffic means that dirt and grime can be ground into the carpet fibers. Unchecked, this means the slow death of your carpet.
  2. Using some of the methods above can remove stains. Stains in carpets can last for a long time, and even mean that you will be forced to buy a new carpet sooner than you would like. Effective carpet cleaning gets stains out (as long as you treat them ASAP). 
  3. If anyone in the home has an allergy or has asthma, the bacteria trapped in carpets can make things worse. Clean carpets contribute to a cleaner atmosphere in the building, leaving everyone healthier.
  4. Good carpet cleaning means that you also get rid of bad odors. This is especially true when you have pets that have accidents. Even if you cleaned it all up, the bacteria will stay in the carpet. Get it cleaned.

Prevention, not cure

How to keep carpet stairs clean: prevention, not cure

The stairs in your home will see a lot of foot traffic over the years. Weekly vacuuming is essential to keep that loose dirt at bay. In fact, frequent vacuuming can help in the battle to keep your stairs in perfect condition.

If problems arise, give them a thorough cleaning with any of the methods outlined above. Then, go back to vacuuming. This is your best option and it means that, even if you have the messiest small children or a mountain of pet hair, you can keep your stairs looking great for years to come.

If you liked this post please take a look at my other posts on making and saving money.

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Sal Ashraf

I'm a freelance writer. This site is all about getting more business, and keeping that business, whether you're a solo entrepreneur, or a large company.

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