How to Clean Carpet on Stairs (Even Without a Vacuum)

If you live in a multi-story home and your stairs are carpeted, then you know how difficult it is to keep your carpet runner clean and stain-free. Let’s face it, a staircase is a high-traffic area that will get dirty often. But cleaning it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or stressful.

Below, we have provided some easy and effective ways to clean carpet on stairs without using a vacuum or carpet cleaning service.

Easy Ways to Clean Carpet on Stairs

Grab a Dustpan and Brush

Grab a Dustpan and Brush

Since carpets are more likely to accumulate dust and stains over time, to retain their colors and prevent them from fading, a simple trick is to use a stiff broom or brush. For maximum effect, start sweeping from the top part of the carpet and work your way down so that all the dust particles from the fibers gather in the dustpan.

Use a Sticky Tape

Use a Sticky Tape

A sticky tape or lint roller will remove the hair from each step. This is done by rolling the sticky side of the tape over the step to pick up the pet or human hair. The only downside to cleaning the carpet this way is the amount of effort needed on your part!

Use Detergent and Baking Soda

Use Detergent and Baking Soda

To thoroughly clean the dirt from your carpeted stairs, consider using detergent with baking soda. Simply mix ¼ cup of baking soda in warm water, add some detergent, and pour the mixture in a spray bottle. Mist the solution liberally over the carpeted stairs. Work from the top step to the bottom and leave the solution for 2-3 hours to soak into the carpet. This mixture will deodorize the carpet and remove the dirt.

Once you’ve sprayed the area, the next step is to soak the carpet with water. Do this by pouring some tap water in the spray bottle and spraying the carpet. Press the cloth on the carpet to soak the water for fast and effective results.

The good thing about this method of cleaning the carpeted stairs is that it won’t harm small kids and pets. There is no need to vacuum the baking soda after applying the solution, as the baking soda will fully dissolve in the water.

If you can’t leave the baking soda solution for longer than half an hour because of the lack of access upstairs, use a wet towel to wipe down the area and allow it to dry for a further hour. To quicken the drying process, open some nearby windows to ventilate the area.

Go All-Natural with Distilled Vinegar

Go All-Natural with Distilled Vinegar

If you want to skip the detergent and go all-natural, use the following ingredients to prepare your carpet cleaning solution.

What you’ll need:

  • ¾ cup of distilled vinegar
  • A brush
  • Dry towel
  • Warm water
  • A bucket


Fill the bucket with vinegar and a gallon of warm water. Soak your brush into the solution and start from the top of the stairs. Brush the vinegar solution into each carpeted step using circular and horizontal strokes.

The idea is to allow the solution to penetrate deep into the carpet’s fibers so ensure you have an ample amount of the vinegar and water solution on the brush. Caution: don’t use too much of the solution as you don’t want to soak the carpet in water and cause mold. A soggy carpet will take a lot longer to dry!

Once you’ve made your way to the bottom of the stairs, empty the bucket and replace the solution with tap water. Grab a dry towel and immerse it in the water before wringing it out thoroughly to speed up the drying process. Now wipe down the carpet on the steps. You can always use a fan or air conditioner to speed up the drying process.

If the smell of vinegar lingers after an hour or so, open the windows to ventilate the room.

Clean Individual Stains by Using Carpet Shampoo

Clean Individual Stains by Using Carpet Shampoo

Cleaning carpeted stairs by hand may sound like a labor-intensive task, but the results are very much worth it. The easiest way to clean rust stains is to shampoo your carpet and remove the stains by hand rather than using a machine.

When you shampoo by hand, you can use an extra towel or cloth to soak up the shampoo from the carpet. Since too much water in the carpet can cause mildew or mold, it’s best to allow up to 15 hours for the carpet to dry after you’ve finished shampooing it.

For Heavy-Duty Cleaning, Use a Steam Cleaner

For Heavy-Duty Cleaning Use a Steam Cleaner

Steam cleaning equipment is the best tool for deep cleaning carpets on stairs. This process involves hot water penetrating into the carpet fibers to dislodge dust or dirt particles. The hot water’s steam forces the dirt particles out of the fabric before allowing the excess water to dry up while leaving the carpet area damp. Although steam cleaning isn’t very effective in removing stained patches from the carpet, it can be used as an alternative to vacuums. That said, this cleaning method is handy when you want to get rid of mold or mildew from your carpeted stairs.

There are several benefits to steam cleaning carpets. These are:

  • Since there are no chemicals involved in the cleaning process, steam cleaning is considered as an eco-friendly option.
  • The steam evaporates quickly, so when you’re cleaning heavy traffic areas like the stairs, you can walk on the steps pretty soon after. If, on the other hand, you were to clean the stairs by hand, you’d have to wait longer before walking on the carpet. Steam cleaning dries much faster, so there is no need to avoid walking up the stairs afterward.
  • Unlike vacuuming that doesn’t combat stains, with steam cleaning, tough stains will get removed quickly.
  • Due to the high heat level of the steam cleaner, 99% of common household allergens are killed. This equipment is ideal for use in households with high dust levels or dust mites. What’s more, pet odor is quickly eliminated while fleas and their eggs are destroyed.
  • As previously mentioned, steam cleaners aren’t very effective at removing stain patches or greasy spots. However, they are still a good option for regular carpet cleaning, especially on the stairs. These machines remove mold or mildew effectively with low risk of carpet discoloration that is often caused by commercial products, such as carpet shampoos. If you plan on steam cleaning your carpeted stairs more than twice a year rather than hiring this tool, it’s more cost-effective to buy one. This way, you can steam clean your stairs every two months or so. But it’s not just the carpeted stairs that a steam cleaner comes in handy for. Other areas of the house where you have carpets will also benefit from this great cleaning tool.
  • Steam cleaning is a versatile way of keeping your carpet and the rest of your home in tip-top condition. It not only removes dust and debris, but it also gives your home a brand-new feel and look.

How Often Should You Clean Your Carpet Runner?

You should aim to clean your carpeted stairs every few days to prevent the accumulation of dust and dirt. Regular cleaning of carpet on stairs is very important as this is a heavy foot traffic area. To save yourself the hassle of cleaning the stairs, consider investing in a good quality steam cleaner. Use the machine every 2 months to thoroughly shampoo or steam the carpeted stairs.

Which is Better: Shampoo or Steam Cleaning?

Both shampooing and steaming are advised in order to keep your carpets looking clean and fresh. As previously stated, shampooing and steaming your carpets every few months is recommended, or you can alternate between the two. Alternating between both cleaning methods will ensure your carpeted stairs get a thorough clean as what one method doesn’t pick up, the other will the next time you use it.

Steam cleaning provides a gentle way of cleaning carpets without the need to add any chemicals or scrubbing the fabric. Similarly, shampooing the carpet is an effective way of lifting tough stains, but this task is more labor-intensive than steam cleaning.

Can You Walk On The Stairs After Cleaning Them?

Once you’ve cleaned your carpeted stairs, it’s best to avoid walking on the steps until they are completely dry. If you’ve used a steam cleaner, let the steps dry for half an hour before walking on them. After manual cleaning, however, you’ll need to let the carpet dry for up to 10 hours, depending on the amount of water you’ve used to clean the actual steps.


Learning how to clean a carpet on stairs can seem like a huge task. However, once you’ve got the hang of it and get used to routine cleaning, it will become much easier. It is important to have the right tools on hand, like a steam cleaner, brush, cloth, as well as the cleaning agents you’ll be using. This will make your carpet cleaning task on the stairs much easier.