Home » Blog » How To Clean Your Wooden Staircases (Without Damaging Them!)

By: Rain City Maids
Jul 03, 2023

Wood stairs are functional and a focal point in your home's eye-candy factor. So, as you may know, regularly cleaning these steps is crucial to preserving their natural beauty, integrity, and your house's good looks.

Luckily, you won't need to do anything overly complicated to have them in pristine condition. You just need to follow these steps and keep your wood stairs looking their best without breaking a sweat!

Necessary tools for cleaning your wooden staircase

Cleaning a wooden staircase requires more care than other areas in your home due to how prone they are to damage. So, you must pick the right tools and products for the job. Below you'll find a list of our recommended supplies.

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Spray bottle
  • Mop
  • A soft toothbrush
  • A duster or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Dry-cleaning sponge
  • Ice cubes
  • A plastic bag

Step #1. Remove dust and clear your staircases

Dusting is especially important for this task. Otherwise, the dirt will smear and stick hard to the wooden grain, and it will be harder to wipe it. So use your vacuum cleaner with the brush attachment or a duster and remove the dust starting from the top of the staircase.

If your stairs don't have a finish, keep in mind that the rough texture and slits in the wood make it a perfect surface to trap dirt, so you'll need to dust along the grain for better results.

Be careful! Cleaning staircases can be risky, as you are more prone to tripping and falling than in other areas in your place. Then, be sure to also clear your stairs from any items that will get in the way during cleaning.

Note: Avoid using a broom at all costs! It may not seem like it, but the broom's bristles can wear off the finish and erode exposed wood over time.

Step #2. Make a DIY cleaning solution

You might have heard about tons of products to keep your wooden surfaces in great shape. As long as your stairs aren't super dirty, you'll only need a water and dish soap mixture—it is powerful enough to deal with most stains while being gentle on your wooden stairs.

Make your cleaning solution by filling a spray bottle with water and a trickle of mild dish soap. Then, shake it until it's sudsy, and you'll be ready to go!

Can you use a store-bought cleaner?

Getting a product designed to clean wood will work. However, different types of wooden surfaces require different cleaners. So, if you go with this option, always stick to the instructions on the label and spot-test first. If you're in doubt, there's always the dish soap method!

Step #3. Wipe away the stains

Once the cleaning solution is ready, lightly spray and work through every step one by one. Otherwise, you risk water leaking into the wood, making it swell or twist. Unfinished surfaces are at higher risk, so apply the solution by dampening a sponge instead of spraying it directly.

After you cover a step's surface, you can use a dampened mop to quickly wipe the grime or a lightly damp microfiber cloth if you want to be more thorough. You can even use a soft toothbrush to clean slits or remove stains that don't easily come out with the wiping. 

Pro tips for heavily stained wooden stairs

If your wooden staircase is too grimy, you may be tempted to use more powerful cleaners to deal with stains. However, raw wood and some finishes are delicate, and most harsh cleaners will ruin them completely. Check what you can safely use to clean different tough stains: 

  • For most stains: Moisten a cloth with mineral spirits and wipe until the stubborn spots vanish. Just remember to wear rubber gloves and ensure proper ventilation in the area.
  • For soot stains: Grab a dry cleaning sponge and gently wipe away the stain. If the sponge gets dirty, you can simply slice off the blackened section to continue cleaning. Once done, give the area a good mopping.
  • For sticky spots: Here's a handy trick to remove gum or adhesive residue. Place a bag filled with ice cubes over the spots and leave it for about five minutes. Once the residue has hardened, carefully remove it using a plastic scraper.

Although these tips will help you deal with almost all challenging stains, deep-ingrained ones won't come off, no matter how hard you try. If it suits your plans and budget, you may consider giving your staircase a new and clean look with a fresh coat of paint.

Step #4. Rinse and dry

As you finish wiping each step, use a clean, slightly dampened microfiber cloth to remove the remaining grime. Immediately after rinsing, grab another dry microfiber to absorb the water and avoid damage to the stairs.

Outdoor staircases can be rinsed with a garden hose if they are sealed. Then, you can use a mop to dry them. If you were to apply a new coat of sealant, just let them air-dry for several hours beforehand.

Optional step: treat the wood

Treating your wooden staircases is not only a way to give them a nice, polished look but a crucial part of keeping them in good and usable condition—especially outdoors wood.

Depending on the last time you gave maintenance to your stairs and the use they get (or if they are unfinished), they may need a new finish or a little polishing every six to twelve months. As finishing can be lengthy, refer to these guides to treat your indoor and outdoor staircases.

Wooden staircase preventive measures and maintenance

Follow these measures to keep your wooden staircase in the best condition for longer!

  • Clean them regularly. Make dusting and sweeping your staircases part of your daily cleaning routine. That way, you'll avoid dirt accumulating and staining your stairs over time.
  • Clean up spills immediately. Even if your wooden staircase has a finish, it's better not to risk it. Clean up right away any spills you see before they leak or leave a watermark.
  • Don't use heels. Thin heels can put too much pressure on a small area. Constantly going up and down stairs with these types of shoes could damage the wood. So, try not to wear them when using the stairs.
  • Cover dings and scratches. Dents will eventually appear on your wooden stairs, no matter how careful you are. Use protective wax to fill those dents whenever they appear before they get bigger.

Do you want the rest of your house clean too? Let us help you!

Make your wooden staircase stand out even more by keeping your house equally sparkling clean! Rain City Maids has the best cleaning experts that will keep your place tidy with the highest level of professionalism and care. Book now and see it for yourself!

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