How to Maintain the Carpet on Your Staircase

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  • 1-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-1,500
What You'll Need
Vacuum cleaner or shop vac
Brush attachment
Stiff broom
Steam cleaner
Carpet shampoo

A carpeted staircase adds color, texture, and extra tread for safety on stairs. While you can cover the carpet with plastic runners to protect it from gathering dirt, that is an unsightly solution that should only be temporary. Follow this advice to give the carpet on a high-traffic staircase some special attention to keep it looking new and clean.

Step 1 - Have the Right Vacuum

Just like the carpet in the rest of your home, the carpet on your staircase needs regular vacuuming. It removes dirt, tiny bits of gravel, and debris from the rug that can grind away at it and do damage over time. A standard vacuum cleaner really isn't designed for stairs. It can be heavy to carry and too big for the small steps, making it almost impossible to use properly.

To vacuum the stairs, invest in a lightweight, handheld model that's about the size of a small suitcase. It should include different attachments. You can hold the main unit in one hand and guide the attachment with your other. When vacuuming stairs, always remember to start at the top and work your way down.

Step 2 - Use a Brush Attachment

A hose is good for sucking up surface dirt and may even get some deeper dirt that's loose in the pile. For the best results, use the brush roller attachment, which is similar to the beater brush on your standard vacuum. Doing so loosens impacted dirt and can help your carpet last longer.

Step 3 - Get a Stiff Broom

broom against a brick wall

A stiff broom is also helpful for cleaning your carpeted staircase. It is much more lightweight than any vacuum cleaner. Doing so will improve the appearance of the carpet, but vacuuming is still recommended for a deep-down clean. To sweep the carpeted staircase, start at the top and move down. Sweep each step until any debris is on the bottom floor and can be vacuumed or swept away.

Step 4 - Steam Clean

You can steam clean the carpet on your staircase just as you can any carpet. You'll need a steam cleaner with a handheld hose attachment to do this. If you don't want to purchase a steam cleaner, you can rent a machine from a local grocery or home improvement store. Keep in mind that investing in a home steam cleaner will save you money over time.

Step 5 - Hand Scrubbing

spray bottle and sponge to clean carpet

You can also opt to shampoo the carpet by hand. It is also the best method of spot-cleaning. Some stains, like those with oil bases, may require a pre-treatment solution that loosens the dirt so it can be lifted from the carpet fibers.

Mix specially formulated carpet shampoo with water until you get a light foam. Work it into your carpet with a scrub brush. If you have a Shop-Vac or other wet/dry vacuum, vacuum as much water as you can out of the carpet. Otherwise, use a soft, absorbent towel or cloth to blot the carpet and remove as much water as possible. Once the staircase is completely dry, go over it with a vacuum.