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How to Clean Carpet on Stairs: By Hand and With a Machine

Staircases are one of a home’s high-traffic areas. Daily contact with shoes, socks, and bare feet (and paws, if you have pets) means they’re bound to pick up dirt and debris, and slowly get stained over time. 

This guide will help you prevent these from making your staircase unsightly. Learn how to clean carpet on stairs effectively by hand or with a machine with these expert tips.

How to Clean a Staircase Carpet by Hand

There are several different ways you can clean a carpet without a machine:

  • Regularly cleaning your stairs off with a stiff brush or broom to remove dust and debris
    This means you won’t have to deep clean it as often. Sweep the stairs from top to bottom so the dirt isn’t driven into the carpet by your feet, and collect the debris at the bottom of the stairs with a dustpan and brush.
  • Using carpet shampoo, a clean cloth, and a scrubbing brush
    Mix the carpet shampoo with water and scrub this mixture into stains using the brush (don’t do this if you have a wool carpet). Use the cloth to soak up the mixture, and blot or stand on a towel over the area to help it absorb moisture.
  • Using white vinegar and water
    If you need to rinse the detergent out of a stair carpet, you can combine a quarter of a cup of white vinegar and a gallon of water into a solution to be used with a scrubbing brush. Work some of this solution into each step with the brush.

A combination of up and down, side to side, and circular motions should help to penetrate deep into the carpeting and any stains there. Too much water can cause mould to form, however, so be careful to limit how much you are using.

Once you’re done, wipe down the carpeted steps with clean, fresh water and a clean cloth that has been wrung out before use. Use a fan and keep moisture in the room low to speed up the drying process.

How to Clean a Staircase Carpet with a Machine

There are two main methods of using a machine to clean a carpet on stairs. These are vacuuming and steam cleaning. Vacuums, especially handheld or lightweight models, make excellent carpet cleaning solutions because they are easy to move and manoeuvre along edges and fit into corners.

A steam cleaner or carpet cleaning machine is your best option for true deep carpet cleaning. These can be found in specialist shops or available to rent from professional services, such as Rug Doctor, and can remove everything from pet hair to deeply ingrained dirt.

The Best Way to Clean a Carpet on Stairs

Overall, the best way to clean carpeted stairs is to combine both “by hand” methods and machine methods:

  1. Loosen any debris or dirt in the carpet’s fibres with a scrub brush or stiff broom. Start at the top of the stairs and work your way down, while also paying attention to corners and edges.
  1. Vacuum up the loosened dirt with a handheld or lightweight vacuum, or a larger vacuum that has a hose and brush attachment. Start at the top and work your way down to avoid pressing dirt into the carpet again.
  1. Using a soft brush, apply carpet shampoo across the steps.
  1. Work the shampoo into the carpet’s fibres; this is especially important for areas that are stained or look particularly dirty.
  1. Remove excess water. This can be done with a wet-dry vacuum or a towel. Make it as dry as possible to prevent mould from forming.
  1. Allow the stairs to dry for at least 12 hours, then do a final vacuuming.

Cleaning Berber Stair Carpets

Initially, you will find that Berber carpets are difficult to stain and get dirty. However, once it has gotten dirty, a Berber carpet will also be difficult to get clean again. The best way to prevent this from happening is to vacuum the carpet regularly, though you may wish to check that your vacuum won’t damage it before you start. Loose carpet loops can become wrapped around a vacuum’s beater bar, and will be pulled out and can cause a run of damage.

Vacuuming without a beater bar can help you avoid damage. Alternatively, you can also choose other methods to get a clean carpet:

  • Steam cleaning or a carpet cleaning machine
  • Dry cleaning powder
  • Hiring a professional cleaning service

Replacing Your Staircase Carpet

Of course, there is always the option of replacing your staircase carpet entirely. If the stain on your carpet cannot be cleaned off, or even if you think you might like a new look for your stairs, there are options for you to choose from. These include replacing the carpet with another one, or removing the carpet and simply leaving the wood steps exposed.

If you like the idea of adding patterns and incorporating a colour scheme, you’ll have plenty of choices for staining and painting or decorating using a stair runner. You’ll even be able to finish these designs off with a range of stair rods. There will always be an idea available to suit you, and we offer free UK delivery for orders over £75 – so they will be good for your budget, too.