If I had it my way, there would be no carpet in our house. We’d stick with hardwood and tile! But, I don’t have it my way right now and we have some carpet in our house. With four children, it’s inevitable that the carpet gets dirty even though we have a no eating or drinking policy on the carpet, try to vacuum it often, and ask people to remove their shoes at the door as often as possible.
Carpet cleaners tout their services as necessary for prolonging the life of carpet. But is carpet cleaning safe? Traditional carpet cleaning can be toxic. The chemicals (particularly trichloroethylene or TCE) that some carpet cleaning products rely on are suspected in leukemia outbreaks and ground water contamination.
While some carpet cleaners use chemical cleaners, others just use water. Water is better than chemicals, but you want to make sure all the water is effectively removed from the carpet so the pad doesn’t grow mold!
It’s a good idea to ask carpet cleaners what type of cleaning compounds they use so you can avoid the toxic chemicals and how they get all the water out. I know I don’t want my toddler breathing in and ingesting nasty chemicals or mold from my carpet. In addition to polluting indoor air quality and causing other health concerns, some cleaners, especially high pH products, can actually promote stains because they leave behind counter-productive residues.
How to Clean Carpet without Using Chemicals
So, how do you keep your carpets clean and safe without the harsh chemicals? Luckily, a lot of safe household products work really well at removing stains and odors. We recently deodorized our carpet with a big box of baking soda. We smeared the box into the carpet, let it sit overnight, and then vacuumed it up the next morning. It worked really well! And the best part, that box of baking soda cost under $4!I also spilled red wine on my carpet a few days ago. I know – I need to follow my own no eating or drinking rules, eh? Of course, it was a nice big spot in a very conspicuous area on my carpet. I acted very quickly and the spot is gone! First, I dumped a huge amount of salt on the carpet. I left the salt there overnight and vacuumed it up the next morning. It looked like Kool-aid the next morning because it absorbed quite a lot of the spilled wine. I should have taken pictures…
The salt didn’t get the whole stain out, though, so I turned to hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a trick I learned from our home birth midwives. It’s also effective at getting blood out of fibers (but you want to test it out first to make sure it doesn’t discolor your carpets or fabric). I just dumped some HP on the carpet and scrubbed with a brush. The hydrogen peroxide did the trick and there is no big red wine spot on my carpet anymore! Yay!
Other household products that work well for carpet cleaning in addition to the hydrogen peroxide, salt, and baking soda are corn starch, vinegar, club soda, and borax. Next time you pick up a package of one of those products, look at the directions. You might be surprised how many ways they can be used around your house! Here is also a helpful link for how to deal with specific stains, but they do recommend some chemicals so read with caution.
How do you keep your carpets clean without chemicals? For more information, read this information from Healthy Child, Healthy World here, here, and here.
For more Green Cleaning Tips, check out these posts:
What are your trips for cleaning carpet without using chemicals?
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