How do you clean your carpeted stairs?

oceannaSeptember 11, 2010

My carpeted stairs get dirty quickly for one reason only: Bonnie, my dog, runs up and down them for no reason that anyone can tell (I think she's looking for a burglar in the basement, or she thinks I've accidentally left meat down there?), shedding dirt and yard debris as she goes -- several times a day. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't need to do them nearly as often.

Even though it's relatively light as vacuums go, I hate trying to clean the stairs with my regular vacuum (kills my back). You have to keep it at an angle, or if you put it straight upright the power transfers to the hose. The hose alone takes more time and doesn't do as well.

I usually use a small shop vac about 12" tall. But I'm always up for easier ways to do everything.

What do you do?

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I don't have carpeted stairs, or any stairs for that matter, but I do know vacuums. What you need is something like the old Dirt Devil hand vacs with a spinning brush... they still make a version that is bagless. They are great for stairs because they fit so well and the spinning brush really works well on carpet. I have an antique bagged one (I prefer bags, as most collectors and vac experts do) and it's great for getting cat hair off the sofa and ottoman. The best part of a machine like this is that there is no hose to fight, just a cord to deal with and no heavy cleaner body to try to balance on stairs. You really need a spinning brush for carpets.

Mine is this classic one with the ballooning bag that came out in in the early 90s. You can get paper bags or just dump the cloth one.

The current version is this one.... bagless though, so it's a mess to empty and will clog and lose air flow faster than the bagged version.

Another good option would be the Dirt Devil Platinum Force hand vac, sadly, also bagless... these came out in the early 2000s and were part of a series (upright, shampooer, and this hand vac). They later made a red version that looked similar, but the brush was driven by an air turbine system instead of a electric motor, so if you get one of these, go for the blue Platinum Force edition. The great part about them is that they have a hose and the spinning brush part slides off the base so you can almost use it like a canister with a power nozzle, the brush still turns even when the nozzle is detached because the hose is electrically wired... very handy for stairs.

Now, I'm not recommending them because they are Dirt Devils... Dirt Devil probably makes some of the worst vacuums in the world (and now that they own Hoover, so does Hoover), BUT, for hand vacs with spinning brushes, they can't be beat. All of these are available on Ebay. Good luck.... I hope you find something that works well for you.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 9:53PM
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I totally agree with vacuumfreak about the Dirt Devil hand vac. I have a central vac plus other vacuums from before the central vac and the Dirt Devil is the only thing I use when I want the carpet on the stairs really clean and fluffed back up. It's the rotating brushes. I have Axminister carpeting on my stairs which is is tough as nails but I see some impressions on it from all the stair traffic (crushing the nap) and only the Dirt Devil gets it back to new condition.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 11:35PM
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Can you put a baby gate at the top of the stairs to eliminate her needless trips thus keeping the stairs cleaner?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 11:35PM
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Thank you, Vacuumfreak! You gave a great explanation of what I need. You're right that a "beater brush" would be a lot better than just the suction I'm using now. I really appreciate your time and effort on that post.

Susan, thanks for your additional information. That's good to know.

Arizonny, I thought about that but two things bother me. One, it would need to be pretty. I have a very old accordion type and it's ugly. Two, it would need to be very easy for me to get through, like coming up and down the stairs with laundry, groceries, etc. I don't really know what they make these days for that.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 4:35AM
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Look at the site below. There are baby gates available now that are very nice looking and function with ease.

Here is a link that might be useful: Baby Gates

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 12:16PM
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Thanks Arizonny!

Vacuumfreak - Yippee! I found one just like the second one you pictured on CL not too far from here for $10. I wrote them and now waiting for them to write back. There is another one like the red one, but it's a long drive away, so we'll see.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 7:19PM
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Oceanna, that is a great price.... did you get it? If not, another will come along! If you did, you may need to change the belt and filter if it wasn't maintained properly to get good performance. People tend to abuse and neglect vacuums (which is why my apartment serves as a safe haven for such poor machines :o). I think you can download a free PDF manual from for that model if you do get it and want the book.

Eureka and Hoover and Panasonic have also made versions of handheld vacs with rotating brushes, but the Dirt Devils are the best (a phrase you won't hear me say often). I never see that model on my Craig's List here, so that's good you found one!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 9:07PM
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If you have a central vac system, Vacuflo makes a Rugrat attachment. It's like the Dirt Devil without the added bag, plus the super suction of your in house vac. It does a great job. I got rid of my old dirt devil after I got this system installed. The only downfall is it is noisy. My system was installed back in 96, so hopefully they have made the attachment quieter. It has went through two teenage boys using it to clean cars, who had a tendency to chuck it on the concrete garage floor. It's used a lot and has held up over the years.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 11:53PM
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Vacuumfreak -- the woman and I are still trying to get together! I missed her today, she missed me yesterday. Maybe tomorrow. Thanks for the tips. Hers is a rechargable. Could it be she's selling it because it doesn't hold a charge? Not sure I could tell that unless I clean her whole house with it when I get there. That's just a thought that dawned on me.

Housefairy, no don't have a central vac, but maybe someone who does will find this thread and be very happy to read your reply.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 12:58AM
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Oceanna, if it's rechargeable, it isn't any of the models pictured above... more likely a dustbuster type machine. They almost never have spinning brushes and very seldom have much power to tackle the job at hand!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 8:01AM
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Thank you. I will look some more. Glad I asked! I generally prefer corded machines over rechargeable, as they have more power. So I'd wondered about that.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 12:46PM
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I have the same dog situation. I don't even want to stop them, they have so much fun running up and down the stairs to retrieve their toys.

I also have that exact red Dirt Devil hand vac, but I never use it for stairs because it won't get NEAR the corners and edges. Not too great anywhere else either.

The worst thing is I don't even have an outlet anywhere near the stairs.

I actually tried sweeping them, yes, with a broom, and that worked OK. It's deep-pile carpet, so I had to sweep vigorously. This only makes them look clean, it doesn't suction any dirt out, but since the carpet is old and soon to be replaced, I don't care. It's a quick way to clean them up.

Otherwise, I get an extension cord and use the attachment in my Miele canister, which is AWESOME. It gets deep into any crevice and grabs everything. It's the tool with little red felt lint-grabber strips.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 12:22AM
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