Did carpet cleaning almost kill me?
Well, not exactly. But it did make me so sick, I suffered for several days with what felt like a terrible flu.
Turns out, it wasn’t the flu. It was an unexpected and very severe reaction to the chemical compounds in the cleaning fluid I was using to clean my carpet. And I swore, “Never again!” In fact, I’ve teamed up with Pro Carpet & Upholstery Cleaners, a company that is committed to non-toxic carpet cleaning, to offer my top tips so you won’t get as sick as I got.
Why Choose Non-Toxic Carpet Cleaning?
Most carpet cleaners use cleaning solution that contains two particularly toxic chemicals: perchloroethylene, and napthalene.
- Perchloroethylene (commonly called Perc in the industry) is a chemical commonly used in dry cleaning that can cause dizziness, fatigue and nausea if inhaled.
- Naphthalene is a solvent that is considered toxic to the human central nervous system.
Many carpet cleansers also contain synthetic fragrances. Synthetic fragrances contain phthalates and other compounds that are notorious for causing headaches, itchy eyes, aches and pains, and even breathing problems.
When you spray cleaning solution that contains these chemical compounds, misty toxic particles waft into the air, where they are easy to inhale.
In my case, I used a commercial carpet cleanser not knowing it could make me sick.
Within about a half an hour of working on my carpet, I started to feel something like the flu coming on. I finished cleaning the carpet because it never occurred to me that the cleaning solution was what was making me sick.
In fact, I didn’t put two and two together until some months later, when I cleaned my carpet again – and the same thing happened.
Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about carpet cleaning compounds, what they contain and how they affect our health.
I realize these compounds can be dangerous for babies crawling around the floor, and for our pets that are constantly licking their paws.
I don’t use commercial cleansers any more.
Instead, I work hard to keep my carpet clean so it doesn’t need to be washed as often. When it does get dirty, I only use certified non-toxic products on it.
Non-Toxic Carpet Cleaning Tips
First, try to keep the carpet from getting too dirty.
1) Remove your shoes at the door. – Not only do your shoes track in mud and dirt they can also bring in invisible pollutants like pesticides. At home, wear socks, slippers or house shoes (shoes that never leave the house) when you are inside the house, not your street shoes.
2) Pick up after your pets. Pets can track in a lot of dirt and grime, especially after it rains. Keep a towel by the door to wipe your pets’ paws when you bring them in.
3) Keep a throw rug at every door you use to go inside and outside. The rug can wipe dirt off your shoes and your pets’ feet, in the event you can’t kick your shoes off right away.
4) Vacuum twice a week – Vacuuming gets rid of surface dirt before it has a chance to set. Another advantage? You’ll reduce the level of dust mites. Dust mites can trigger an asthma or allergy attack. Not only will frequent vacuuming decrease dust mites it will also help get rid of surface dirt on your carpets before it gets a chance to set.
5) Use the right type of vacuum – A vacuum cleaner that has strong suction, rotating brushes and comes complete with a HEPA filter is best.
6) Clean spills up at once – The faster you clean up food, wine or juice, pet messes, and other stains the better.
TO CLEAN A STAIN OR GET RID OF GUM
⇒Blot as much of the spilled liquid up as soon as possible after it spills.
⇒Then pour a little cold water or soda water on the spot and continue blotting.
⇒If stain still remains, make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to one part water and spread the past on the stain.
⇒Let it dry, then vacuum it up.
⇒If gum is stuck in your carpet, use an ice cube to free it, then pull it off.
My own experience is that many liquid dish soaps contain something that also removes the color from the carpet, so I only use liquid dish soap (or any actual soap) as a last resort.
How to Actually Wash the Carpet Without Toxic Chemicals So It Gets Clean
Be safe. When you need to wash your carpet, choose cleansers that are certified non-toxic or work with a company like Pro Carpet, whose cleansers are certified by Green Seal.
Hire a company that uses only certified non-toxic cleansers. Ask to see a list of the ingredients in their cleansers if it’s not on their website.
If you clean your carpet yourself, choose cleansers that are certified non-toxic. Again, check the Green Seal data base for options.
Wear a mask that covers your face and nose. No matter what products you use, it’s easy to inhale misty particles when you use a shampooing machine. Reduce what you inhale by wearing a face mask that covers both your nose and mouth.
Run fans and open windows. Keep the windows open and air circulating while your carpets are being cleaned, then run fans to speed up drying afterwards.
If possible, have bedroom carpets cleaned early in the day so you don’t have to sleep in a room that still might have cleaning chemicals in the air.
NOTE: Sponsors like Pro Carpet help us bring you the expert advice you want to create the greener life you want. Our editorial opinions remain our own. Thanks!