Categories: Pro Cleaning Tips

How To Clean Stairwells in an Office Building

How to Clean Stairwells in an Office Building

Stairwells in office buildings are many times neglected, as they generally aren’t used as much as the rest of the building.  Both carpeted and hard-surface stairwells should be routinely cleaned and maintained, as these areas aren’t that difficult to maintain.  If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some tips to help you clean a stairwell in an office building.

Start Top To Bottom

Like cleaning the office itself, it is often easier to start from the top of the walls and work your way down.  If the stairwell has 2 floors, start with the second floor and work your way to the first.  If the stairwell has 10 floors, start at the top of the 10th floor and work your way down one floor at a time.  If the area hasn’t been properly cleaned in weeks or longer, be prepared to spend a lot of time dusting.  When dusting a stairwell, use an extension duster that has at least a 10′ reach.  Start at the top of one wall and dust thoroughly from top to bottom, making sure to overlap the areas where you have dusted.  If you skip any areas, those areas may stand out heavily later.  Dust top to bottom first, then left to right.  In most stairwells, there are lights mounted to the walls.  Make sure you dust the tops of the covers to the lights, especially on the lower floors, as this area is generally more visible when people are walking down the stairs.  After you finish one wall, continue to the other walls, making your way down to the first landing.

Stairwell Door

Stairwell Rails

Doors and Rails

Inspect each door and each part of the stair railing.  Dust and thoroughly clean each door.  If there is a glass window, dust and clean the window, making sure there are no streaks.  Clean the door handle, then open the door, prop it open, and clean the area between the withth of the door and the door casing (this can be very dusty).

After the doors are complete, dust each section of the rail (many have more than one layer).  After dusting, use a clean microfiber rag and a detergent and spray each section of the rail.  Remove the excess cleaner with the microfiber rag.  Important:  check the outside rail lip to the outside of each set of stairs.  This lip tends to collect dust and is oftentimes overlooked by the cleaning service.  However, it is unlikely you will be able to clean this lip easily after it is dusted, as accessibility can be tough.






The landings are the areas in between each floor that tend to be longer than the stairs.  Plan on sweeping each landing thoroughly, or, if they are carpeted, vacuum each area thoroughly.  For carpeted areas, follow your commercial cleaning company’s recommended carpet cleaning schedule as well.  Note that when these areas are being carpeted cleaned, it is important to leave a written carpet cleaning notice to EACH entrance and exit to the stairwell and on each floor of the rail.  Although the carpet itself doesn’t get very wet during the cleaning process, a person’s shoes will generally attract some of the water, making their first step onto a non-carpeted surface potentially very slippery.



Stairwell Rise

Stairwell Lip

Stairs, Nosing and Rise

For the hard surface stairs, it is common for the stairs to contain a rubber nosing, extending to the rise, or vertical section of the rise in the stair.  Routine sweeping and mopping will help maintain the cleanliness of the stairs; however, it is common to see chewing gum, staples, dirt, grease, and a variety of other items stuck to these areas.  Using a commercial buffer on the stairs simply isn’t practical, but can be useful on the landings.  In order to address excessive buildup in these areas, get a bucket and fill it half way with hot water.  Use a scour pad and/or razor blade to remove gum adhering to flat surfaces.  If the gum is stuck in the lining of the nosing, apply a product, such as Goof Off or Goo Gone, to the gum and allow it to sit for the instructed duration.  Once the time has elapsed, attempt to remove the gum with the scour pad or razor blade.  You may need to repeat this step more than once.  When you are finished, make sure you re-wash the area with clean water, then immediately dry.  Leaving a slick product on stairs can lead to slips and falls.

After cleaning each of the nosing, address each of the rises.  The non-carpeted rises can generally be cleaned using hot water, detergent and a scour pad.  As with the nosing, when you are done cleaning each rise, dry it, then re-clean it with clean water before drying it again.



Stairwell Lights

Maintenance Issues

When the cleaning is complete, report any maintenance issues to the building facility manager.  If you notice excessive spiders or roaches, report it.  If you notice burned out light bulbs, cracked light covers or non-working electrical outlets, report those issues as well.  In most states, flammable items cannot be stored under the bottom stairwell, as if that area ignites, it will be impassible for anyone using that stairwell.






“Here is a recap of how to clean a stairwell.  First, dust top to bottom.  Next, clean the doors and rails.  Next, clean the stairs, nosing, rising and landings.  Carpet clean if needed.  Report maintenance issues to the facility manager.”

For more information on commercial cleaning education, visit the International Sanitary and Supply Association.  For more information on stairwell janitorial service in Columbia, SC, click on the blue janitorial service link in this sentence.

About the Author

Mike Young

Mike Young owns Palmetto Commercial Services in Columbia, SC.  Mike has been cleaning office buildings since 1993.  Mike has attained all 3 IICRC Master Certifications, ABRA CBRT Certification, and multiple other commercial certifications.  PCS has been named Best of The State Cleaning Service in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021; Post and Courier/Free Times Best Cleaning Company 2019, 2020 and 2021, Columbia Metropolitan Magazine Best commercial cleaning Service 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, BBB Torch Award for Ethics 2017, Lexington Life Magazine Best Restoration Service 2021 and 2022, Top Rated Local Best Janitorial Service in South Carolina 2019, 2020 and 2021 and SC Best in Business Best Janitorial Service, Best Floor Cleaning Service and runner up for Company of the Year 2021.  Mike currently helps other cleaning services by writing cleaning blog articles and providing cleaning service SEO.

Mike Young

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