How to Clean Carpet on Stairs? With & Without Machine Guide!

Placing carpets on stairs helps reduce the noise from foot traffic and improves the visual appeal of the stairs. Unfortunately, the carpets accumulate dirt, pet hair and stains over time, which makes regular cleaning a necessity. Find below the most efficient ways of cleaning a carpeted staircase with a machine and without a machine.

How to clean a carpet with machines?

Cleaning the carpeted stairs with machines is the fastest way of getting the rug in sparkling condition. To make your job more convenient, you are good to use a small-size vacuum or a cordless handheld vacuum to make sure it fits safely on the narrow stairs. A bulky and heavy machine can fall off the steps, so think twice before choosing the device.

Pick up large debris and hair

Before you jump into vacuuming the stairs, pick up the large debris that the vacuum cannot deal with, including, toys, chunks of food, paper scraps and so on. Also, you should remove the hair stuck within the rug fibers that the vacuum cleaner can’t conquer. Homenish suggests to use sticky tape to pick up the hair. A brush with stiff bristles is equally efficient, yet you have to avoid aggressive rubbing to prevent fabric damage.

Vacuum the stairs

Once you remove all debris that can get stuck into the vacuum, you can start vacuuming. Start with the very top step and go down. Place the vacuum on the stair vertically and perform back and forth movements to suck up all dust and dirt. Use the crevice tool attachment to clean the edges that connect two neighboring steps. If you have a vacuum with a tank for cleaning solution, don’t hesitate to make use of this advantage. Pour some carpet cleaner into the tank, and start vacuuming the staircase top to bottom. Once you finish the bottom step, allow the stairs to dry for about half an hour before you can resume the foot traffic.

How to clean a carpet without machines

If you don’t have access to a vacuum cleaner, you can clean the carpeted stairs manually. It takes longer, but the result isn’t disappointing at all if you put in dedication and use the right products. Here are some carpet cleaning methods that will help you bring your rug to a like-new condition.

Broom and dustpan

When machines are not on hand, broom and dustpan come to save you. While not as efficient at lifting dirt as the powerful vacuum suction, a broom is still a great helper at removing surface dust and grime. Start the brushing session from the topmost stair and descend, while collecting the dirt in the dustpan. If you feel that there is grime left at the bottom of the carpet, follow up with a scrub brush and some dish detergent to make the rug impeccably clean.

Vinegar method

Mix 3/4 cup of vinegar with 1 gallon of water in a bucket. Dip a scrub brush into the solution and apply it on the stairs using circular motions. Start from the top step and work your way to the bottom. No matter how dirty the carpet is, never allow yourself to apply excessive force while rubbing, as it may damage the fiber and make the carpet’s color fade. Better go gently and repeatedly.

Baking soda method

Baking soda is a great home cleaning agent, fighting off almost all types of stains. Moreover, it proves excellent at removing unpleasant odors from surfaces. Add 1/4 cup of baking soda into a spray bottle and fill it with warm water. Shake well, then spread the solution onto the steps. Let the mixture sit for 3 hours so that it can penetrate the fabric and inactivate the odors. For sharp smells, Homeviable recommends to mix baking soda with a few drops of essential oil. Sprinkle the mixture on the stairs, let it sit for a couple of hours, then vacuum the powder. When you combine sodium bicarbonate with water, you don’t have to vacuum afterwards, because the soda dissolves in water.

Dish detergent method

Dish soap can also do a great job of cleaning your rug-covered stairs. Pour 1 gallon of water into a bucket and add 1/4 cup of detergent. Use warm water to make the detergent dissolve faster. Dip a brush into the solution and start scrubbing top to bottom. Keep in mind to shake the excess moisture off the brush. The more solution gets soaked up into the carpet, the harder it will dry and the higher risk of mold growth.

Baking soda and vinegar mix

While baking soda and vinegar work greatly independently, they can also be mixed into a stunning stain removal solution. So if you happen to have both ingredients handy, mix 1 cup of water with 1 cup of vinegar and a tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate. Agitate until the ingredients blend into one. Spray the solution onto the stained areas of the carpet and allow it 1 hour to get its job done. Then, use a dry towel to wipe the product residue off.

How often to clean the carpeted stairs?

There isn’t a set in stone rule of how often carpeted staines should be cleaned. Homedecorbliss recommends the optimal frequency be once a week. However, you may have to clean the carpet at shorter intervals if you have kids and pets. The amount of foot traffic also determines how often the carpteted steps require cleaning. Heavy traffic means faster accumulating dust, hence a greater need for cleaning.


If you wonder how to clean carpet on stairs, there are several methods you can do it. Vacuuming is the faster one. A small handheld vacuum would suit ideally the job, given the limited space on the stairs. If there is no machine to help you with cleaning, you can go the elbow grease way. For a maximum result, use vinegar, baking soda, or dishwashing detergent to lift tough stains and pungent odors. Don’t hesitate to wear knee pads when scrubbing and sprinkling cleaning solutions onto the carpet to avoid discomfort.