How to Clean Carpet on Stairs in 5 Simple Steps: Vacuum, Shampoo, Dry

If you live in a multi-story home and your stairs are carpeted, or you have a staircase with carpet runner, then you will know that it doesn’t take long before the carpet starts to look tired and dirty.

In this article, I will list the steps involved so that you know how to clean carpeted stairs, and also steps and precautions you can take to protect carpeted stairs.

Before I go through the steps in detail, here is a quick checklist of the main steps involved in the best way to clean carpet on stairs.

How to Clean Carpeted Stairs

How To Clean Carpeted Stairs

Stiff Brush - This will loosen any hardened debris and dirt on the stairs.

Vacuum - Use a powerful cordless vacuum to suck up the dirt from the carpet.

Shampoo - Give each stair a good scrub with carpet shampoo until clean.

Dry - Use a carpet cleaner, or absorbent towels to remove any excess water.

Vacuum - When the stairs are completely dry, vacuum again.

Step 1: Remove Dirt and Debris with a Stiff Brush

The first step to cleaning carpeted stairs is to remove any stubborn dirt and debris that is deep in the carpet and won’t come off with regular vacuuming. A good way to achieve this is by using a brush with stiff bristles. If you don’t have a stiff brush, then you could use a special attachment for your vacuum cleaner that helps to remove ground in dirt.

Always start at the top of the staircase and work your way down. Once you have worked on a step and loosened any dirt, use the brush to sweep the dirt down the stairs. This will make it easier to keep all the debris together and avoid trampling it back into the carpet.

Step 2: Use a Powerful Vacuum Cleaner to Remove the Loosened Dirt From The Stairs

Once all the dirt in the carpet has been loosened, it’s time for the vacuum. Most vacuums will be fine for the job, however, to make it easier on yourself you should use a vacuum that is the best for stair cleaning. 

The best vacuum for carpeted stairs is a cordless battery powered vacuum or a lightweight vacuum with a long power cord, such as the Shark Duoclean Lift-Away. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to balance at the top of a staircase with a heavy vacuum cleaner trying to pull you down.

Find out  which vacuum cleaner is the best for cleaning stairs.

Vacuuming Carpeted Stairs

The best way to vacuum stairs is to start at the top and work your way down each step. This ensures that you don’t walk over and trample dirt into the carpet that has already been cleaned.

Step 3: Shampoo Each Stair

The next step is to give the stairs a really good clean with a cleaning agent such as carpet shampoo. The best way to shampoo carpet on stairs is by hand with a scrubbing brush, but this is also the most time consuming and labor intensive method.

Alternatively, you can use a carpet cleaning machine, but these are usually large appliances and are not really suitable for cleaning individual stairs unless they have specific attachments. If you don’t have a carpet cleaner you can usually rent one from supermarkets or hardware stores, just make sure that the machine has the correct attachments for stairs.

Step 4: Dry the Stairs

After shampooing your stairs they will have a lot of excess water on them unless you used a carpet cleaner that sucks up the water as it cleans.

You need to remove as much as this excess water as possible because it will take days to dry naturally. In this time mold and other bacteria can grow in your carpet so it is in your best interests to get as much moisture removed as you can.

Great Looking Carpet Stairs

Read our simple guide on carpeting stairs.

The best way to dry carpet is with a carpet cleaner or a wet/dry vacuum. A portable model that is designed for cleaning hard to reach areas is your best bet here. Again, if you don’t have one you can always rent one and save yourself a lot of hassle.

The alternative is to use absorbent towels or cloths to soak up the moisture. This can be very time consuming and I recommend using a machine.

Step 5: Final Vacuum

Once you have removed as much excess water as you can from the carpeted stairs, leave them to dry naturally over a period of time, preferably overnight.

When the stairs are completely dry, give them a final vacuum to freshen the carpet and remove and debris from the cleaning process. You should now have a very clean looking staircase!

How to Protect Carpeted Stairs and Prevent Future Damage

The main thing you can do to protect stairs that have carpet is to regularly vacuum them, every day if possible.

The more you vacuum, the less chance there is of dirt and debris getting compressed into the fibers of the carpet. Shampooing the carpeted stairs at least once a month will keep them clean and fresh looking.

This post was last updated on November 6th, 2020 at 07:43 pm

  • Judith Bain says:

    Hello there! Thanks a lot for your very informative steps by step guide of how to clean the carpet. Can you recommend a specific brand of vacuum and specific brand for shampoo? Because I do not want to mess up with my carpet and I want to make sure that I am doing the right thing.

  • Donna Witte says:

    I have a stair runner over hardwood steps. How do I clean the runner without damaging the underlying hardwood?

    • Sammy Dolan says:

      Hey Donna,

      Your best bet would be to use a vacuum cleaner that has a hard floor setting, something like the Dyson V8. This way you can use the hard floor setting on your stairs without worrying about scratching the wood.

      I would also skip the first step, using a stiff brush will likely damage your hardwood floor. When you are shampooing, ensure that you remove any standing water from your hardwood as soon as possible, this will avoid any damage.

      Hope that helps!

  • Ellen H. says:

    I like that you suggested cleaning the top of your stair all the way down to make sure that you won’t trample dirt into the carpet again. My husband and I want to own commercial property in the future. We want to install heated steps to give warmth to our clients. Since we want our stairs to not cause allergies to our clients, we’ll remember all your tips.

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