How To Clean Carpet On Stairs [Even without a machine]

Over time, the carpet on your stairs will inevitably require cleaning. Children, pets, and the natural accumulation of dust and dirt make stair carpet cleaning a necessity--and one that goes beyond just a weekly vacuuming. So if you are wondering what the best ways to clean the carpet on your stairs are (both with and without a machine), you've come to the right place. Let's discuss a few ways to clean your carpeted stairs.

Steps to Clean A Carpet With Machines:

  1. Check your vacuum's filter.
  2. Pick up any large items.
  3. Vacuum the steps using the extension hose.
  4. Use the carpet cleaner machine.

Ways to Clean Carpet Steps Without Machines:

  • Diluted Vinegar
  • Baking Soda Solution
  • Laundry Detergent Solution
  • Vinegar, Salt, and Essential Oil
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar

Now, we'll cover each of these cleaning methods in more detail. Please keep reading because we'll also let you know how often to clean carpeted stairs, suggest cleaning products, and determine if a Rug Doctor can help you get the job done with ease. 

New double foyer stairs with clean carpet and hardwood floors, How To Clean Carpet On Stairs [Even without a machine]

Steps to Clean A Carpet With Machines

How to clean a carpet on stairs using a vacuum/carpet cleaner

Young woman hand closeup flat top view looking down vacuuming using vacuum on carpet floor inside interior of house living room stairs, steps or staircase, domestic life

Using a vacuum to clean carpeted stairs is probably the most efficient way to get it done. Let's look at how to do it. Note this tutorial applies only to lightweight vacuums, as heavier vacuums will be more challenging (and dangerous) to use on steps due to their size. 

Check your vacuum's filter

Before vacuuming the stairs (or any area), always be sure to check the dust filter to ensure that it's clear of dust. If needed, replace the filter or empty the contents in the trash can.

Check out this Hoover carpet cleaner machine on Amazon. 

Step 1. Pick up any large items 

Pick up any large objects such as toys, paper scraps, or anything else that may get stuck in the vacuum. Also, make sure that you have ample cord slack when you start so that it doesn't pull. Then, starting at the top of the steps, place the vacuum on each step and move it back and forth vertically, starting from the left side (you should be standing behind the vacuum). Work your way down the stairs until you reach the bottom step. 

Step 3. Vacuum the steps using the extension hose

Next, place the brush attachment on the end of the extension hose and starting at the top of the steps again, use the tool to brush the steps from left to right, make sure to start in the corner of the stab to remove any gathered dust and debris that may be buried within the carpet's fabric. 

Step 4. Step Use the carpet cleaner machine 

Next, pour your carpet cleaning solution into the carpet cleaner's cartridge. Start at the top of the steps and run the carpet cleaner over each step in a back-and-forth motion. Work your way from the left side of each step to the right while pulling the carpet cleaner toward you, going over each section at least two times. Once you reach the bottom of the steps, give the carpet about 20 to 30-minutes to dry before allowing traffic. 

How to Clean Carpet Steps Without Machines

Here, we'll cover how to clean the carpet on your stairs when you don't have a machine.

How to Clean Carpets on Stairs With Vinegar

If you prefer an old school approach to cleaning, or you simply don't have the budget to rent or buy a carpet cleaner, you can still clean your carpeted stairs effectively by simply using vinegar. Here's how.

Things you'll need:

  • A bucket
  • Knee pads
  • 3/4-cup white vinegar
  • Scrub brush
  • Dry towel
  • Warm water

Fill your bucket with 1/4-cup of white vinegar and around a gallon of water. Next, dip your scrub brush into the vinegar solution, and starting at the top of the steps, brush the solution into each step. Work the solution into the steps using circular, vertical, and horizontal strokes, as this will ensure that the solution penetrates the carpet's fibers thoroughly. Ensure that you have an ample amount of the mixture on the brush, but not too much that you soak the carpet in water (this can cause mold and will take longer to dry).

Check out these knee pads on Amazon. 

After you've made your way to the bottom of the steps, empty the bucket of solution and replace it with fresh cool water. Place your dry towel in the bucket, and after ringing it out, use it to wipe down the carpet on the steps. Make sure to wring the towel out thoroughly to help speed up the drying process (you can also use a floor fan). 

Quick note: The smell of vinegar should dissipate within the hour, and opening the windows helps.

How To Clean The Carpet On Stairs With Baking Soda

Baking soda is another natural and inexpensive ingredient that you can use to clean the carpet on your stairs if you don't have a carpet cleaning machine. Not only can it help to brighten your carpet, but it can also help to rid of odors and difficult stains.

Things you'll need:

  • 1/4-cup of baking soda
  • Spray bottle
  • Knee pads
  • Warm water

Using baking soda as a carpet cleaner is fairly straightforward. Simply take 1/4-cup of baking soda and pour it into a spray bottle full of warm water. Be sure not to use more than 1/4-cup, or you will need to use a vacuum to clean the carpet afterward. Next, use your spray bottle to likely mist the solution onto the stairs. Work from the top step to the bottom, and allow the solution to sit for two to three hours so that it can soak up any odors and lingering dirt. 

Check out this scrub brush on Amazon. 

Let the steps dry before allowing traffic. You won't need to vacuum the baking soda, as the small amount simply dissolves in the water.  However, if you need to do any spot cleaning, simply sprinkle baking soda over the stain on the stairs, then spray it with the solution. Allow it to dry for about 30-minutes to an hour, and then either vacuum it up or use a wet (but wrung out) towel to wipe down the area and remove the baking soda. 

How to Clean Carpeted Stairs with Laundry Detergent

Did you know that you can also use everyday laundry detergent as a carpet cleaner? Laundry detergent works well as an effective carpet cleaning product because it's formulated to clean fibrous materials--such as carpet. Here's how to use it.

Things you'll need: 

  • 1/4-cup dishwashing liquid detergent
  • Stiff cleaning brush
  • Dry towel
  • Knee pads
  • Bucket

First, fill your bucket with a gallon of warm water and then pour in 1/4-cup of liquid laundry detergent. Be careful not to go over the recommended amount of detergent, as you don't want your steps to end up soapy.  Starting at the top of the steps, dip the cleaning brush into the solution, and work it on to the first step. Use circular motions so that the detergent can lift any tough stains and loosen any hidden dirt within the fibers of the carpet. 

Check out this Tide laundry detergent on Amazon. 

Once you reach the last step, pour out the solution in the bucket, and replace it with cool water. Then, starting at the top of the steps again, dip your dry towel into the bucket and use it to remove the detergent from the steps. You may need to repeat the steps if you used too much detergent in the solution, as you don't want the carpeting to become stiff once it dries.

What Is A Good Homemade Carpet Cleaner?

Read on to learn about the ways that you can clean your carpet using all-natural ingredients.

Vinegar, Salt, and Essential Oil

To make this cleaning and deodorizing solution, mix one-part vinegar and two parts water and pour it into a large spray bottle. Then, add a teaspoon of salt per every cup of water and 5-8 drops of your favorite essential oil. Mildly agitate the bottle and then spray it on your carpet using a clean cloth to get into the fabric. 

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar can provide one of the best cleaning solutions for a variety of services. To make a carpet cleaner using these ingredients, simply mix 1-cup of vinegar with 1-cup of water, and then add a tablespoon of baking soda to the mix. Pour it into a spray bottle and apply it to any stubborn carpet stains, letting it sit for about an hour before wiping it up with a damp, dry towel or cloth.

How Often Should You Vacuum Your Stairs?

Depending on the amount of traffic that your carpet receives, vacuuming at least once a week may be a good idea. If you have small children or pets, you may find that you need to vacuum more often.

How Often Should You Clean The Carpet On Your Stairs?

Ideally, once every three months may be sufficient. The number of times you need to clean the carpet on your stairs can vary greatly depending on your household's size and the activities that take place within it. The best way to determine if your carpet needs cleaning is if you notice several visible stains on its surface or an accumulation of dirt in high traffic areas. 

Can You Walk On The Stairs After Cleaning Them?

If your stairs have recently been cleaned and carpeted, it's best to let them dry before allowing traffic. If you use a carpet cleaning machine, the steps can be dry within 15 to 20-minutes; it may take a bit longer if you clean them manually (depending on how wet they are). This is why it's best to be mindful of the amount of water that you actually use on the steps when cleaning the carpet.

If your stairs are uncovered hardwood, it's best to let them dry as well before allowing traffic, as this could pose a safety hazard. Hardwood steps can usually dry within 10 to 15-minutes--though if you polish them as well, you'll want to wait a bit longer.

Can A Rug Doctor Clean Stairs?

Yes, a Rug Doctor can clean the stairs. However, the most effective model to do so would be one that includes a motorized upholstery attachment. Otherwise, the machine's shape, weight, and width would make it fairly difficult to use on stairs.

Click here to see Rug Doctor's portable carpet cleaner on Amazon.

Wrapping Things Up

Vacuum cleaner lying down in stairway covered by carpet, domestic

We hope that you've enjoyed learning about the number of ways that you can clean the carpet on your steps even if you don't have a vacuum or carpet cleaner.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

How Long Does Carpet Last On Stairs?

How To Fix A Burn In Carpet

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