Popular Vacuums

Best Way How To Clean Carpet On Stairs

Carpet cleaning on stairs can be a challenging task, since it may be difficult to reach and clean every spot and every corner thoroughly.

Users must have cleaning tools that are easy to use, that clean well, and can tackle every possible type of dirt that can be found at home, including pet and human hair, fibers, lint, dust, but also potential allergens, toxins, germs, stains, etc.

Published: March 22, 2022.

On This Page:


clean carpet on stairs 1

Types of Cleaning Tools

In order to clean carpets on stairs, one may use standard vacuums, washers, and mops including upright vacuums with cleaning hoses and wands, canister vacuums, stick vacuums, convertible stick/handheld vacuums, handheld vacuums, steam mops, carpet washers with cleaning hoses, carpet spot cleaners/washers, etc.

Also, when cleaning carpets on stairs, especially deeply embedded dirt and stains, one can use various cleaning solutions in the form of powders or liquids that penetrate deeply into the carpet, cleaning it thoroughly.

And when the commercial cleaning formulas are not available, one can clean carpets on stairs using home remedies, including baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and similar. 

Upright Vacuums

Classic upright vacuums are a bed choice for carpet cleaning on stairs.

The main reason why classic upright vacuums are not well suited for vacuuming stairs is the fact that the main cleaning heads of such vacuums are large and difficult to maneuver on stairs.

Also, the user has to maneuver with the whole vacuum cleaner, which can be difficult and even dangerous on stairs.

However, many modern upright vacuums feature detachable cleaning hoses and wands with several additional cleaning tools, some of which are excellent cleaning tools for detailed cleaning of surfaces like cars, pets beds, stairs, and similar.

Such cleaning tools include Crevice Tools, Pet Turbo Brushes, Upholstery Tools, and similar.

Crevice Tool is a long and narrow, often flexible cleaning tool that allows the user to clean corners, edges, along the baseboards, and similar.

For vacuuming in low-light conditions, some vacuums feature Crevice Tools with LED headlights powered by small lithium button/coin batteries.

Pet Turbo Brush features small brushrolls powered by either an electric motor or more commonly by a small air turbine (hence the name "Turbo").

As the brushroll spins, it pulls deeply embedded dirt, including pet and human hair, dust, fibers, pollen, lint, and other dirt, which is then vacuumed into the unit via strong airflow.

Some of the brushrolls are of classic construction requiring the users to periodically clean entangled hair, while other units come with tangle-free brushrolls, greatly simplifying the maintenance.

Upholstery Tool is suitable for detailed cleaning of carpets that are too sensitive to be cleaned with the Pet Turbo Brushes.

However, Upholstery Tools require users to manually pull the tool several times over the cleaned surfaces in order to thoroughly clean the surface.

These tools are commonly used on other vacuum types as well for detailed vacuuming of hard-to-reach and clean surfaces, stairs included.

lift off w300px

The cleaning reach of upright vacuums with cleaning hoses may not be long enough to clean the whole staircase due to the limited length of cleaning hoses and wands.

That problem can be solved with convertible upright vacuums which are designed with detachable pods that can be easily carried around, even up and down the stairs.

Such units are growing in their number and popularity with some of the most popular units being (Amazon links, links open in the new windows):

- Shark AZ2002 Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Upright Vacuum Cleaner

- Bissell 2998 MultiClean Allergen Lift-Off Pet Vacuum

Both of these units are versatile, convertible upright vacuums that can be used as the main vacuum cleaners even in large homes and apartments.

Of course, there are many other suitable upright vacuums, just be sure to choose according to your own needs and requirements.

Canister Vacuums

Lightweight canister vacuums can be used to thoroughly clean stairs if they are light enough to be carried up and down the stairs and if they have additional cleaning tools suitable for deep vacuuming of carpets found on stairs.

Some canister vacuums feature automatic power cord rewind systems and relatively short power cords compensated with longer or stretch cleaning hoses and telescopic wand.

Before buying yourself a new canister vacuum, check the power cord length, cleaning hose reach, and the length of the cleaning wand - these three combined give the cleaning reach of the canister vacuums which should be long enough to clean your stairs.

shark cz2001 h300px

Also, cleaning reach is important for vacuuming the single floors - using just one wall power socket to complete the cleaning task saves time and effort.

Canister vacuums should also have Crevice Tool, Pet Turbo Brush, Upholstery Tool, and/or some similar cleaning tool in order to be able to deeply clean the stairs.

Some of the best canister vacuums include (Amazon links, links open in the new windows):

- Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog Canister Vacuum

- Shark CZ2001 Vertex DuoClean Canister Vacuum Cleaner

Upright vacuums and canister vacuums are corded units with very strong suction, but their cleaning range is limited by the availability of the mains power in the form of wall power sockets. Cordless units don't depend on the presence of the wall power socket and have much larger cleaning reach and freedom.

If You are looking for such a vacuum, check the following Stick Vacuums.

Stick Vacuums

Although corded convertible stick vacuums feature excellent performances and commonly come at more affordable prices than cordless convertible stick vacuums, cordless units are much more popular.

Cordless convertible stick vacuums are bagless units that are powered by high-capacity, ultra-light lithium batteries offering suction power in the range of corded units with the operating time on the single battery charger being limited by the battery size, suction strength, cleaning tool being used, and similar.

Best of all, convertible cordless stick vacuums can be quickly converted into handheld units and back with no tools required.

Note: convertible corded units may also be converted into corded handhelds if they were designed that way.

3 in 1

Such versatile units allow the users to thoroughly clean surfaces that are hard to reach and clean by corded uprights and canister vacuums.

When looking for a suitable cordless stick vacuum cleaner be sure to check:

- Operating Time on the single battery charge depends on the suction mode/strength and the cleaning tool being used.

Most convertible cordless stick vacuums feature several suction modes - the strongest suction mode is used for vacuuming extra dirty areas since it offers the best suction, but it also has the shortest runtime.

In most situations, the best thing to do is to use medium suction mode which balances between the suction strength and the operating time.

When active cleaning tools are being used, like electric brushrolls and similar, they are also powered by the onboard battery, shortening the operating time.

- Maximum Suction Strength shows how strong actually the vacuum is. Some of the strongest vacuums on the market feature suction strength of 200+ Air Watts, while typical Medium Suction modes on most cordless units are in the 50-125 Air Watts range.

- Dirt Cup Capacity must be large enough to accept all the vacuumed dirt during a single cleaning task. If the dirt cup is too small, then the user has to empty the dirt cup during the cleaning task, prolonging the cleaning task.

- Vacuum Weight in the stick vacuum configuration and in the handheld vacuum configuration varies and is usually around 4-8 pounds for stick vacuum mode and 3-5 pounds for handheld vacuum mode.

Of course, when looking for convertible stick vacuums there are other details to look for, but these are the most important ones.

Convertible stick vacuums are very popular. Here are some of the most popular units on the market (Amazon links, links open in the new windows):

- Bissell 2033 Featherweight Stick Lightweight Bagless Vacuum

- Dyson V11 Cordless Vacuum Cleaners

- Shark IZ462H Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Vacuum Cleaner

- Tineco Pure One S12 Plus

Of course, there are many more models offering various features and having different specifications with some coming at rather acceptable prices.

Amazon Search:

- Cordless Stick Vacuum

Note: Amazon link opens in the new window, feel free to check it for the most up-to-date offers and prices.

While convertible handheld vacuums can clean carpeted stairs thanks to their compact size, strong suction, and a very often long list of available cleaning tools, even such units may be too large for detailed cleaning in certain situations. That is where true handheld vacuums come to play.

Handheld Vacuums

Handheld only vacuums are ultra-light and ultra-compact units that can be used at the moment notice to clean various types of dirt from carpeted stairs - people with pets and kids often require such "emergency" vacuums as their second or even third vacuum at home.

Handheld only vacuums are very similar to convertible handheld vacuums, except that their construction is optimized for handheld only operation - very often they are simpler versions of the convertible handheld vacuums.

bissell 29869 aeroslim charging

Modern ultra-compact handheld only vacuums are often designed to look stylish, requiring very little storage space for the vacuum, storage/charging dock, and any additional cleaning tool.

Due to dimension limitations and hence limited batteries, most compact handhelds come with 2-in-1 cleaning tools, for example, Crevice Tool/Dusting Brush or Upholstery Tool/(Pet) Brush and similar combinations.

Because of their size, often surprising suction strength, and relatively long operating time (around or slightly more than 10 minutes, which is a lot for vacuums in this class), handheld only vacuums are suitable for vacuuming dry surface dirt from carpeted stairs and similar surfaces - which is a typical type of dirt in emergencies.

Most of the vacuum brands offer several handheld units, here are our top choices (Amazon links, links open in the new windows):

- BISSELL 29869 AeroSlim Lithium-Ion Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

- Shark CH951 UltraCyclone Pet Pro Plus Cordless Handheld Vacuum

- BLACK+DECKER HHVK515JP07 Furbuster AdvancedClean+ Pet Cordless Hand Vacuum

While vacuums are generally good for vacuuming dry dirt from carpeted stairs, there is always the need to clean wet and dry pet messes, stains, and similar types of dirt - that is where other cleaning tools can be very helpful.

Steam Mops

Corded steam mops are generally intended for cleaning and sanitizing bare floors that can withstand such cleaning.

However, when steam mops are using carpet gliders, they can be used to clean and refresh carpet surfaces, which can be helpful when trying to remove dry and wet surface messes.

However, one must be sure that the carpets on the stairs can withstand hot steam and that stair material can withstand some moisture left after the cleaning.

If the stair carpets do support such cleaning, and You don't want to steam clean them on stairs, remove them from stairs, place them on the glazed tiles and steam clean from both sides (upper and lower) - such sanitation can be very beneficial in making the home more pleasant and safer to live in.

Corded steam mops are simple and reliable cleaning tools with most vacuum brands offering several models, each with somewhat different features and specifications.

When looking for a steam mop, be sure to check its wattage, cord length, types of steam mop pads, water tank capacity, total weight, and similar.

Smaller, lighter, and more compact steam mops are more suitable for direct carpet cleaning on stairs, but they should also feature carpet gliders - without carpet gliders, steam mops can hardly traverse carpeted surfaces.

Carpet Washers

Carpet washers clean carpets using cleaning solution, spinning brushes, and strong suction to remove dirty liquids. Sometimes, carpet washers feature a warm air blower/fan in order to speed up carpet drying time.

While full-size carpet washers are too large to clean carpets on stairs, some of these units also feature cleaning hoses and wands with suitable attachments that allow them to thoroughly clean even elevated surfaces like carpeted stairs.

2 in 1 pet tool

Such carpet washers can be excellent cleaning tools for deep cleaning carpeted stairs.

One of the most popular units suitable for such tasks is (Amazon link, link opens in the new window):

- Hoover FH52050 SmartWash Automatic Carpet Cleaner Machine

But, full-size carpet washers even with additional cleaning hoses may be simply too large to clean smaller areas of carpeted stairs, for example, spots. That is where carpet spot cleaners/washers can come in very handy.

Carpet Spot Cleaners/Washers

Carpet spot cleaners/washers are corded or sometimes cordless units that are practically smaller versions of full-size carpet washers and as such, they are suitable for washing/shampooing smaller carpeted areas, including carpeted stairs - they are often used for cleaning just one smallish dirty spot, hence the name.

Carpet spot cleaners/washers feature carrying handles and lightweight designs, allowing the users to carry them easily even up and down the stairs.

They also feature a two-tank design - one tank is used for cleaning solution, while the second tank is used for collecting dirty liquids.

The actual cleaning is performed using a cleaning brush that combines cleaning solution, brush bristles, and strong suction to deeply clean carpet fibers from various types of dirt, including stubborn pet and kids' wet and dry messes.

Spot carpet cleaners are not as common as, for example, cordless convertible stick vacuums, but some of the models on the market are very popular units, including (Amazon link, link opens in the new window):

- Bissell 3194 SpotClean Pro Portable Carpet Cleaner

Carpet Dry Cleaners for Pet And Other Stains

Carpet dry cleaners are slightly moist powders that are applied to the dirty surfaces, gently rubbed into the carpet, and then removed from the carpet using strong vacuums.

While the powder is in the contact with the dirt, particles of powder stick to the dirt and remove it physically when being vacuumed - this is a simplification of the cleaning process but it shows the required steps for using carpet dry cleaners.

Carpet dry cleaners are suitable for cleaning dirty spots from extra-tough dirt, including spots from wine, coffee, pet urine, and similar. Also, carpet dry cleaners often leave a pleasant and refreshing fragrance, increasing the feeling of cleanliness.

Note: any chemical used for cleaning must be used according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Home Remedies

Most common home remedies suitable for cleaning dirt from carpeted stairs include vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, wet salt, and similar.

They all clean using similar methods just like carpet dry cleaners - apply some slightly wet salt to the dirty spot, rub it into the carpet gently using a soft cloth and then vacuum it using your home vacuum cleaner.

But, although they can be rather useful in many situations, these home remedies can also do some damage - for example, wet crystals of salt can physically damage carpet fibers, while other acidic or alkaline powders or liquids can damage the carpet colors.

Few Final Words

If You have the need to regularly clean the carpeted stairs, go for a compact and lightweight cordless convertible stick/handheld vacuum with cleaning tools suitable for carpet vacuuming.

Modern cordless vacuums are often used as the main vacuums even in larger homes and apartments - although such units can be expensive, they are very versatile and can save plenty of time and effort.

For people having the need to clean dirty areas on their carpets and carpeted areas, spot carpet washers can be of great help.

But, if You have only occasionally the need to clean tough and stubborn dirty spots, a good carpet dry cleaner powder in combination with a strong vacuum cleaner is probably all that You need.

Again, when choosing the right way to clean carpeted stairs, always choose according to your own needs and preferences.

And whatever You do, stay safe - stairs can be a tricky area to clean ...

Amazon Search:

- Cordless Stick Vacuum

- Corded Stick Vacuum

- Pet Vacuum Cleaner

Note: Amazon links open in the new windows, feel free to check them for the most up-to-date offers and prices.

Search Popular Vacuums