Stair Railings are Surprisingly Filthy: It’s Time to Clean Yours

Cleaning stair railings in a home.

Pop quiz: When you’re spot-cleaning your home, trying to hit all the filthiest touchpoints to keep you and your family safe, what are the places you seek out to sanitize?

You likely sprayed and wiped off kitchen countertops, toilets, kitchen sinks and trash cans (good call; these are potential hotbeds of bacteria). If you’re a cleaning expert, you may have also taken time to clean off your phone, door handles and TV remote.

However, there’s one surface that you likely haven’t thought of. It’s time to pick up your favorite disinfectant antimicrobial, because today we’re highlighting a new place to clean: Your stair railings.

Think About It: Stair Railings Need to be Cleaned, Too

When was the last time you touched a stair railing without thinking about it and recoiled due to unexpected stickiness?

We already know not to touch stair railings in public places, such as the supports on escalators or the railings in malls. Our at-home railings may not come into contact with strangers hundreds of times a day, but we don’t think of cleaning them very often. Grime (and germs) accumulate.

This is not new information. According to a Colorado newspaper article from 1900: “Have no doubt whatever…that many contagious diseases are communicated through grasping the stair railings or banisters…and the theory certainly has common sense to back it.”

We believe it. Whether your stair railings are made of wood or a type of metal, it’s easy to keep them disinfected. Let’s talk strategy.

The Care and Cleaning of Wooden Handrails

  1. Take a soft microfiber cloth, dampen it slightly, and run it lightly over the handrail to remove surface-level dust and dirt. Then, go wash your hands.
  2. Run your clean, dry hands over the surface of your handrail. Does it feel smooth? Does it feel sticky and grimy? Right now, you’re establishing a baseline, so don’t worry too much about current grossness.
  3. Take a hard-working all-purpose cleaner and spray down the surface as directed. You may wish to put a towel below your working space to catch any drips.
  4. Allow the product to sit for the manufacturer-recommended length of time for effective disinfection.
  5. If it still feels dirty, repeat the cleaning step. If the railing feels smooth, wait until it is fully dry. Then, if you’d like, follow up with the wood polish of your choice.

Easy Maintenance for Metal Railings

Metal railings should be a little easier to keep clean. Where wooden materials have grooves, cracks and crevices that dirt and microbes can call home, metal tends to present a less-welcoming surface.

That doesn’t mean that metal railings can skip the cleaning process, however. The process you’ll need to follow is very similar to the cleaning process for wooden railings and banisters.

For both wooden and metal handrails, you’ll want your last step to be the same: Spray down the surface thoroughly with a disinfectant antimicrobial to completely rid the surface of germs and apply a coating that will make it more difficult for germs to land on your handrails for the foreseeable future.

Make Sure Your Stair Railings are Safe for Everyday Support

Stair railings are crucial for the safety of your home. It’s ironic, then, that they tend to go unnoticed as a frequent touchpoint in need of thorough disinfection.

As you go around your house, de-germing your doorknobs and getting the grime off your tech, spare an extra few moments to disinfect your railings, too. With a hard-working multi-action disinfectant antimicrobial, you’ll have confidence in the long-lasting, germ-free safety of this common touchpoint in minutes.


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