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How To Protect Carpeted Stairs (From Dirt, Stains & Damage)

Beautifully carpeted stairs protect against falls and slipping, while also making your home look warm, inviting and elegant.

Protecting your carpeted stairs is a must – and you’l be happy to know there are a variety of great solutions available.

Let’s take a look at the accessories and techniques out there that will keep those carpeted stairs looking their best.

QUICK NOTE: Before following the tips below for pristine carpeted stairs year-round, double-check the material type. Different fibers may require specific treatments or need special care. The tips in this article apply to all types of carpets and stair coverings but check your cleaning codes or with your manufacturer to be sure.

how to protect carpeted stairs

Nifty Accessories for Protecting Carpeted Stair Areas from Dirt, Stains, and Damage

Maintaining carpeted stairs is certainly more challenging than a traditional wooden staircase.

The carpet on the stairs is prone to wear and tear as it is often one of the most high-traffic areas in a home or office building.

Thankfully, keeping the stairs in tip-top shape is pretty easy with some basic accessories.

Don’t Discount Classic Doormats

So – what is the simplest way to keep the stairs clean?

It may come as a surprise, but old-fashioned doormats placed inside and outside the front door work exceptionally well. The design possibilities are endless, so matching your style and decor should be easy.

The benefits of using doormats in this way include the following:

  • Preventing shoes from tracking excess dirt into the home
  • Protecting stairs and flooring from grit and debris
  • Reminding all who enter the building to wipe down their muddy feet or shoes

Doormats won’t clean your home for you, but they offer a simple way to stop unwanted mud and dirt from ruining your hard work.

Clean them regularly to keep them working effectively; a good shake and weekly spray down or vacuum are usually sufficient.

Taking shoes off before entering the home also maximizes the use of doormats.

Footwear drags in the dirt, allergens, soil, and fecal matter, trampling them into the carpet’s fibers and making them harder to clean. A doormat solves that problem in all kinds of weather.

Install Blinds to Shade Carpeted Areas

Did you know that UV rays from sunlight will break down fibers and discolor your carpet faster?

Installing blinds on all windows near your stairway not only looks amazing – but keeps the sunshine from hitting your stairs.

Understandably, many people find blinds somewhat challenging to clean.

Many people opt to use drapes instead for this reason, but these features are less effective at protecting the carpet from UV rays during the day if they are not ‘blockout’.

It is also helpful to remember that removing blinds from the windows and cleaning them by hand makes the task a lot more manageable.

Use a Stair Runner or Carpet Runner

use a carpet runner

Stair runners lie on top of the stairs and run down the length of the staircase.

The covering adds an attractive quality while effectively protecting the carpet underneath it. Runners come in various styles and colors, giving you complete control over the final look and texture you need.

  • Vinyl is an excellent material to use for stair runners that keep liquid spills from seeping into the carpet.
  • Choose runners that are easy to clean.
  • Go for runners that have a solid grip underneath to prevent them from slipping down.
  • Choose the material and style that provides a decent foot grip on top to avoid falls.

A runner will only partially cover each step, but it is still a very effective addition for hygiene purposes.

Here’s a great DIY stair runner installation if you want to give it a go!

Explore Slip Stair Treads for Extra Protection

These treads are easy to install, even for a complete beginner. Most slip stair treads offer the following features:

  • See-through designs that won’t detract from the look of the interior
  • A solid grip for feet to prevent falls
  • Great options when you love the look of the carpet beneath but require more stability 

Select products designed for stairs with carpet to ensure that the tread has the required teeth to keep it in place.

These additions can be risky without the right grip, as they are slippery when not appropriately attached. A carpet runner has the same effect but needs specialized carpet tacks for the best grip.

Invest in Temporary Stair Carpet Protectors As Needed

Why use stair carpet protectors? These solid products are an ideal form of protection for stairs during renovations and periods of increased foot traffic. They completely protect carpeted steps from liquid spills, dust, and footprints.

Carpet protectors are easy to install, lightweight, and durable. However, they only offer a temporary fix, lasting about 45 days before needing replacement.

Stair carpet protectors do work well for the short term (e.g. if you’re moving house), but there are better long-term solutions. 

One potential downside to using these temporary coverings can be the adhesive. It will keep them in place but many leave behind a residue that is difficult to remove. Check with the manufacturer first if this is a concern.

Other Handy Techniques for Protecting Carpeted Stairs

Keeping carpeted stairs clean is also a good way to make the fibers last longer.

Change Your Air Filter In Time

The cleaner the indoor air, the cleaner the home will be in the long term.

Promptly replacing your air filter each season will lower the amount of dust and allergens present in your home. It also keeps these pollutants from settling into the carpet on the stairs.

Be sure to set the alarm to remember to change your filters regularly. It saves time cleaning the carpets, keeps allergens at bay, and helps everyone breathe easier.

Vacuum Carpeted Stairs Regularly

Vacuuming is paramount in how to protect carpeted stairs from wear and tear.

The simple task effectively removes most dust and allergens from the home’s carpeting.

Worse than dust though, grains of sand and other contaminants rub against the carpet’s fibers as people walk over it and without intervention, it quickly destroys the quality of the carpet’s appearance and durability. 

  • Use the hose attachment to ensure a thorough cleaning.
  • Go over each step a few times and cover the corners. 
  • Vacuum more if you have children or pets living in the house.
  • Vacuum daily during renovations and use a temporary stair carpet protector.

Always make sure that your vacuum is in good condition (and emptied out) before using it. If it isn’t, you will have to work much harder to get the stairs clean and run the risk of damaging your vacuum.

A thorough vacuum daily is the best way to protect your carpeted stairs (if you’ve got the time), but once a week should be a minimum.

vacuuming regularly

Be Proactive About Preventing Stains

Do you clean every spill immediately?

Use your favorite carpet cleaner and a cloth to gently dab the stain, especially liquid spills. Instantly catching the spill reduces the likelihood of permanent stains. 

  • Work from the outside in.
  • You may need to clean the spot multiple times
  • Let the carpet cleaner soak in for better results. 
  • Use a white cloth so that you don’t transfer color onto your carpet. 

Set-in stains are far more difficult to remove, so jump on carpet stains before they have a chance to sink into the fibers.

Hire a Professional Carpet Cleaner 

As a last resort, a professional cleaner would be able to help with deep cleaning services and advice.

Annual deep cleaning does wonders for the carpet fibers and removes pet dander, dust, packed-in dirt, and allergens. It is possible to do it yourself with a steam cleaner and attachments meant for stairs. 

Follow the directions and remember that this process involves water. Do not let the moisture sit on the carpet for too long, or it will start to cause mildew and mold.

You should also avoid walking on wet carpets and set up fans to accelerate the drying process.

How to Protect Carpeted Stairs: Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Best Carpet Cleaner for Stains?

Surprisingly, dish soap and warm water work wonders. However, several other options on the market might suit your personal preference. Paper towels and rags are both practical application choices, though paper may tear easily.

How Do I Know My Vacuum Is Working Efficiently?

Check the suction. Does it feel strong? You’re good to go. Regularly changing the bag or washing and replacing it helps too. 

Check the hose for clogs. Use tongs to grab stubborn clumps from the inside. 

What Are the Benefits of Carpeted Stairs?

Adding carpet to your stairs stabilizes your foot’s grip and makes it less likely that you will fall. A carpet also looks great, with lots of choices for personal style!

How Do I Disinfect My Carpets and Carpet Runners?

Using steam and vinegar is an easy, natural way to disinfect carpeting that won’t damage the fibers. Bleach will kill any bacteria but harm the carpet. It could also irreparably discolor whatever it touches, which is why professionals advise against bleach and use heat instead.

How Can I Kill Mold?

Is there mold growing on your carpets? Baking soda is often a quick and effective solution that desiccates the mold and keeps it from accessing the water it needs to thrive.

Be sure to thoroughly clean up the baking soda, as it quickly becomes ineffective.

How Do I Remove Nail Polish From Carpeted Stairs?

The main tip is to catch it before it sets in and dries. Carefully blot (not scrub) the spot until as much of the liquid has disappeared as possible. Then, use nail polish remover.

If the nail polish has dried, it may be easier to scrape it off with a dull knife. Use something blunt so that you avoid accidentally cutting the carpet’s fibers.

How Do I Stop Cats Tearing My Carpeted Stairs?

Owning cats and dogs might make you think twice about installing carpeted stairs. It is not easy to keep these pets from tearing at your carpeting, but there are some helpful tips you can use to divert their interest. 

Giving your cat a designated scratching post. Certain scents will repel cats without harming them. Citrus is a great example.
Try essential oils or lemon water and see which scents keep your particular cat away.

A scratching post and scents also work well combined with keeping your cat’s interest focused on other areas.
protecting carpeted stairs

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to keep your carpeted stairs looking fresh.

Carpets don’t last forever, but caring for them often delays a complete replacement by several years.

When in doubt, vacuum your stairs and schedule some professional assistance. A cleaning company can provide excellent tips for your carpet’s type of material and location. 

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