Although this can be a labor-intensive chore, our expert advice will help simplify the process of tidying the staircase (or staircases) in your home.
Hardwood staircase
Credit: Techa Tungateja / Getty Images

Staircases are a highly trafficked area of the home, which means they benefit from routine cleaning. But maintaining them, especially if your house has more than one type of staircase—think concrete slab basement stairs versus the nice hardwood ones leading to your second floor—can be labor intensive. Despite this fact, pet hair, debris from your shoes, dust, and more make it impossible to avoid cleaning the area every so often. While walking up and down your stairs, mopping or vacuuming as you go, may be a task you have been putting off, it doesn't have to be daunting. With this expert advice, you'll be armed with a plethora of cleaning knowledge that will make tidying the staircase (or staircases) in your home a breeze. Whether yours is lined with carpet or made of vinyl, hardwood, or concrete, we, along with Kathy Cohoon, Director of Franchise Operations of Two Maids & A Mop, will help you tidy up. Ahead, Cohoon walks us through exactly how to clean every type of staircase.

How to Clean a Hardwood Staircase

Start cleaning your hardwood stairs by removing dry debris (which can scratch your flooring) via dust mopping or vacuuming. Then, Cohoon says to combine a wood-specific liquid soap and warm water—or mix one part white vinegar with 10 parts warm water—in a bucket; dip in a soft cloth and wring it out until it is damp. "Wipe down each stair individually without over-saturating the surface and be sure to refill your cleaning solution often. You do not want to clean with dirty water," she says. To clean the corners of your stairs, use an angled cleaning brush (a firm toothbrush works, too) to work your cleaning solution into the corners, being sure to blot dry when you're done to avoid moisture build-up in those hard-to-reach spots.

Don't forget the banisters and legs of your staircase, which can also be cleaned with wood cleaner, water, and a cloth. Once you're done wiping the stairs down, dry them thoroughly with a soft towel; Cohoon says this helps to "diminish fall risks" and that "over-saturation or standing water can damage floor finishes." 

How to Clean a Carpeted Staircase

"First, vacuum up any loose debris and use a lint brush to catch hair and other bits," says Cohoon of cleaning carpeted stairs. To vacuum your stairs, use a small attachment to clean each stair individually; also be sure to vacuum the riser. "Utilize a more slender attachment to vacuum corners and the lip of each stair, if necessary," Cohoon adds. Next, use a steam cleaner—or go the manual route with a carpet soap and warm water mixture and scrub the stairs with a cleaning brush. Blot dry if needed and run the vacuum again.

If you spot any stains on your carpet, fill a spray bottle with one-quarter cup of white vinegar, one tablespoon of dish soap, and water. Spray the stain generously and blot it evenly with a clean towel until the stain is removed, advises Cohoon. If you want to disinfect the entire carpet, however, start by mixing one part white vinegar with three parts water in a bucket—then, grab your scrub brush. "Rub the scrub brush into the carpet, dragging it in one direction and being careful not to oversaturate the carpet with the liquid," she says. Next, use a cloth to blot out the remaining moisture. Wipe down the banister and legs following the same method outlined for cleaning hardwood floors. If your stairs are carpeted with a removable runner, Cohoon says to simply follow the product's care instructions and clean the rug separately. 

How to Clean a Vinyl Staircase

As with the aforementioned stair types, begin cleaning your vinyl staircase by removing dry debris; dust, mop, and vacuum to do so. Then, mix a vinyl-specific cleaning soap with warm water—or Cohoon says you can use the trusty white vinegar solution outlined previously—and dip a soft cloth into the bucket; wring it out until it's damp. Wipe down each of the stairs (don't use too much water—no puddles!) and dry them off with a soft towel. To clean the corners of your vinyl-covered stairs, use an angled cleaning brush or toothbrush to work the cleaning mixture into the hard-to-reach areas—then blot dry. 

How to Clean a Concrete Staircase 

Do you have outdoor or basement stairs that are made of concrete? These will also benefit from a clean every now and then. "The most effective, easiest way to clean concrete is to use a pressure washer," says Cohoon, "but if that's not an option, a little elbow grease will do the trick." Start by sweeping or vacuuming the stairs to remove any dust, dirt, or loose debris. Then, using white vinegar and a stiff, sturdy cleaning brush, scrub each stair in circular motions. For stubborn stains or rust marks, Cohoon recommends soaking the stairs in vinegar before scrubbing them with your brush and a bit of baking soda. Finally, rinse the stairs with warm water and allow them to air dry.


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