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How To Clean Carpet On Stairs

19 July 2023

Carpeted stairs can have a wide range of benefits. These include reducing noise levels when people are walking up and down, preventing falls because they are less slippery than wooden stairs, and providing extra cushioning if any falls do happen. But, as anyone with a stair carpet knows, it can get grubby very quickly and can be a pain to clean. If cleaning your carpeted stairs is one of those chores you keep putting off, read on for the best methods to use so that you can get the job done thoroughly.

Do I Need Specialist Equipment To Clean Carpeted Stairs?

You don't necessarily need any special equipment to clean the carpet on stairs. You can get them clean enough using manual methods and with the cleaning equipment you have at home (such as a vacuum cleaner). With that being said, for a deep thorough cleaning, it might be an idea to rent or buy a carpet cleaning machine.

A professional carpet cleaning company can also be a great way of ensuring that carpet on stairs is pristine. Getting a professional carpet clean done once or twice a year can make all the difference.

Let's take a look at how to clean carpet on stairs by hand, with machines, and with a specialist carpet cleaning machine.

How To Clean Carpeted Stairs By Hand

A little bit of elbow grease can do wonders for your carpeted stairs. And sometimes, it can be easier to go in by hand because you can get into the nooks, crannies, and hard-to-reach areas.

For more information, check out our post “How To Clean A Carpet By Hand".

Scrub Brush And Pet Hair Remover

The first thing you're going to need to do is to remove all of the loose dirt and debris. It is a good idea to do this fairly regularly because this dirt can quickly get trodden into the carpet fibres.

Starting at the top stair and working your way down, use a scrub brush to brush the dirt downwards. Eventually, you will end up with a pile of dirt at the stairs that you can sweep into a dustpan and dispose of.

At this point, you should also try to remove as much hair as possible. If you have pets, you will know that pet hair can be difficult to remove and can cause problems with vacuum cleaners. But even if you don't have pets, it can be surprising just how much human hair can end up caught in your carpet.

Use a pet hair remover to lift the hair out of the carpet and dispose of it before you move on to the next stage of the cleaning process.

Carpet Shampoo

You don't need to shampoo the carpet as often as you need to remove the dirt and hair but it is a good idea to get into the habit of doing it around once or twice a year. If you notice any stains, however, you should get in there with the shampoo as soon as possible.

Shampooing carpets by hand can be a messy job so make sure that you have plenty of pieces of cloth to hand and access to lots of water.

First, mix your carpet shampoo with water according to the manufacturer's instructions. Work the cleaning solution into the carpet using a stiff brush. Use side-to-side, up-and-down, and circular motions to ensure that you penetrate deep into the carpet fibres.

Next, use a clean cloth or towel to soak up as much moisture as possible before moving on to the next stair. Removing the dirty water is important because otherwise, the carpet will stay dirty once it is dry.

The drying process can take some time so it can help to keep the windows open or even have a fan running to speed it up as much as possible. Try to make sure that no one walks on the stair carpet while it is drying as any dirt on them will get soaked into the carpet.

Can I Make My Own Carpet Shampoo?

Shop-bought carpet shampoo is very effective but you don't have to use it. You can make your own carpet shampoo from products that you already have in your home. The recipes vary but good all-round carpet shampoo can be made using:

  • one teaspoon of washing-up liquid
  • one tablespoon of white vinegar
  • one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 250ml of warm water

You can use this DIY carpet shampoo the same way as you would for a shop-bought one. If you want your stair carpet to smell nice, you can also add a few drops of essential oils.

Clean Carpeted Stairs Using Machines

While you can clean your stair carpets entirely by hand, it is much easier to use machines. And they can help you do a much more thorough job. Using a mixed methods approach where you do some work by hand and some with machines can be your best bet if you want a good deep cleaning.

Step 1 - Scrubbing Brush And Pet Hair Remover

Going in with a scrubbing brush by hand can be a great first step when cleaning your carpeted stairs. You will be able to agitate and loosen the dirt and debris ready for them to be removed.

It is also a good idea at this point to remove as much hair as you can. Vacuum cleaners can struggle to pick hair up and the hair can get tangled up inside the machine which can cause a clog.

You don't have to do anything by hand at all when cleaning your carpeted stairs, however. If you want to skip straight to using a vacuum cleaner, you can still get a thorough clean.

Step 2 - Vacuum Cleaner

Cleaning carpeted stairs with a vacuum cleaner doesn't have to be hard work. If you have a lightweight vacuum cleaner such as a handheld vacuum or cordless vacuum, this can make it a lot easier to manoeuvre the machine up and down the stairs. But the hose and brush attachment on a larger vacuum can still do the job.

Use the brush attachment first to loosen the dirt. You should try to agitate as much of the carpet as possible. Then go back in with the hose to suck up all of the loose dirt.

Start the cleaning process at the top step and then work your way down. This will ensure that any dirt that gets knocked off each step will be cleaned up as you go down.

Many vacuum cleaners have a pet hair attachment. You can go back over the stairs using this to ensure that all of the hair is removed as well as the dust.

Step 3 - Carpet Shampoo With A Carpet Cleaner

At this stage, you can apply carpet shampoo by hand using the same method we described earlier. Or you can use a carpet cleaner.

A carpet cleaner works by mixing the carpet shampoo with water inside the machine. It injects this solution onto the carpet and then uses powerful brushes to work the solution in and agitate the dirt to loosen it from the fibres.

Then, a powerful vacuum sucks up the moisture and dirt, leaving your carpeted stairs clean.

These machines can be a decent investment because they do take a lot of the manual labour out of deep cleaning carpet, although they can be difficult to manoeuvre up and down. Getting a handheld machine can work better for cleaning stairs.

Step 4 - Steam Cleaner

A steam cleaner is different from a carpet cleaner. It is a much more powerful carpet cleaning machine and if you have stubborn stains or layers of dirt then steam cleaning can be your best bet to get clean carpet stairs.

You can hire a steam cleaner from a variety of DIY stores. The machines can be expensive and, since you will only be using them once or twice a year, it is often more economical to hire one rather than buy one.

A steam cleaner works by forcing hot water (mixed with a cleaning solution) and steam deep into the carpet fibres. This hot water helps to agitate and lift any dirt or grime that is stuck. The powerful vacuum then sucks the water and dirt back into the machine.

Like carpet cleaners, many steam cleaners can be extremely difficult to manoeuvre up and down carpeted stairs. They will often come with upholstery attachments which can make it much easier for you to get to hard-to-reach places.

Bringing In A Professional

Your staircase carpet is a high-traffic area that can easily get dirty. And carpeted floors, especially those on the stairs, can be difficult to clean yourself. This is especially true if you have something like a wool carpet that could easily get damaged.

Vacuuming your stair carpet to remove dust is a relatively easy job but stubborn dirt and stains are something that a professional carpet cleaning company will be able to help you with.

These cleaning technicians will have access to industrial-strength carpet cleaning technology, such as a hot water extraction steam cleaning machine. These machines are much more powerful than a carpet cleaner or steam cleaner that you can pick up yourself and will be much more likely to remove all the dirt from your carpet and leave it pristine.

Not only are you hiring people who have access to stronger machines than you, but you are also hiring people with the training and experience that can help get rid of stubborn stains and ensure that your stair carpet is cleaned safely.

Check out: How To Clean Wool Carpet

Spot Cleaning

Whether you are hiring a professional for your carpet stairs deep cleaning or you are doing the deep clean yourself, it is always a good idea to do spot cleaning in between.

If you spill a cup of coffee or notice any other stains appear on your stair carpets, you should get to it as quickly as possible to remove stains before they are completely dry.

Remove Excess

If the spill is something thick and pigmented (like spaghetti bolognese) then before you start using water to clean the stain, you should remove the excess with a butter knife. This will prevent the stain from getting spread out even further.

Then blot (don't rub) with a clean white cloth from the outer edges of the stain inwards to remove as much moisture as possible.

Use A Stain Remover

You can buy a carpet stain remover or you can make one yourself. A good DIY all-purpose stain remover can be made using:

  • one teaspoon of washing-up liquid
  • 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • 250ml water

Apply the stain remover to the stain using a spray bottle then blot with a clean white cloth to lift the stain. You may need to repeat the process a few times to get the results that you need.

Use a damp cloth with water to rinse the area and remove any soapy residue and then leave it to air dry.

You can also check out our post "How To Clean Carpet Stains" for additional insights.

Specific Stain Cleaning Methods

Some types of stains need different approaches than others. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Blood - Always use cold water to clean a blood stain. Hot water will cause the blood to bind even more tightly with the carpet. Before using the above cleaning solution, sprinkle some baking soda onto the blood stain and work it in using a soft brush.
  • Tea or coffee - Mix two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide with one teaspoon of dish soap and apply it to the stain. Work it into the stain using your fingers or a soft brush. Then rinse with water and blot using a clean cloth.
  • Candle wax or chocolate - For both of these, the key is to get the stain to harden. You can do this using an ice pack. Once the wax or chocolate is hard, you can scrape it off using a butter knife and then vacuum up the pieces.

For more learnings, you can check out our post "How To Clean Blood From Carpet".

How To Clean Carpet On Stairs

The Bottom Line

We all want clean stairs but the cleaning process can be daunting. And since stairs are an area with such a high amount of foot traffic, they do need to be cleaned fairly often. Maintaining a staircase carpet by doing regular vacuuming with a lightweight vacuum, sweeping with a stiff broom, and some spot cleaning can often be enough to keep the stair carpet clean enough between deep cleans.

Using a steam cleaning or carpet cleaning machine for your deep clean of your stair carpet can help but if you are looking for a professional to ensure that the carpet is truly pristine don't hesitate to get in touch with us at the Carpet Team. Our team of highly trained and experienced carpet cleaning technicians use all of the latest powerful carpet cleaning technology and products to give your carpet the deepest clean possible. They also have the training and experience to handle a wide variety of stains and carpet materials and will work with you to find a cleaning schedule that fits your life and commitments.

Don't also miss our article "How Much Is Carpet Cleaning" - it offers valuable insights into this important topic.



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