There’s one room in our house that I absolutely love-the family room. It’s where it all happens-where we read, play, hang out and catch up. Wall-to-wall carpeting has graced this room with its presence for nearly 11 years-and in truth it has helped to make this room the center of our household. Over the years the carpet has seen (and absorbed) throw up, mud, food, wine, juice, dirt and so much more. This carpet’s been the space for playgroups, birthday parties, doggie play dates, cocktail parties and lots of family time. Our three boys learned to crawl and walk on this carpet and our dog naps on it all day, every day. As you can well imagine, the carpet gets filthy.
A dirty carpet can affect the indoor air quality of a home. Carpet acts as a trap for dirt, dust mites, pet dander and allergens- and vacuuming can make the situation worse by releasing the particles into the air.
Once in a while we all should clean our carpets to remove the allergens and other toxins brought into our homes. However, many carpet cleaning products have some toxic stuff in them that will not only impact your indoor air quality and health, but also can have a serious impact on the environment.
- Many cleaners contain perchloroethylene (perc or tetrachloroethylene) -used for dry cleaning, it’s a carcinogen and can cause liver or kidney damage, infertility and cancer.
- Another common ingredient is naphthalene-commonly used in carpet cleaning shampoos,moth balls and toilet bowl deodorizers. It has been linked to red blood cell damage and as a neurotoxin.
This is the carpet that my kids wrestle on, play baseball, dance, read and act goofy- I don’t want them rolling around in toxic chemicals. These chemicals don’t have a place in my home or any healthy home.
Ways to keep your carpets green and clean without using toxic products:
- Don’t install carpet if you have a choice.
- Leave your shoes at the door to keep outdoor pesticides and toxins out of your home.
- If you do have carpets, use a HEPA (high efficiency particle air) vacuum cleaner to ensure better air quality. Micaela over at Mindful Momma just invested in a HEPA vacuum cleaner and has some good tips.
- Rent or buy a steam cleaner. I have done this a few times. Before using a rental make sure you rinse out the cartridge that holds the cleaner with warm water to try and remove any residue from conventional cleaners.
- Buy non-toxic carpet cleaning products. These products are much more costly than the do-it-yourself version. Make sure to read the ingredient list and look up ingredients that look suspicious in the Healthy Child Healthy World Household Products Database. I use Earth Friendly Carpet Shampoo. I also like Bio Kleen Bac Out Enzyme Cleaner.
- Hire a professional green carpet cleaner. We just hired a professional cleaner, Drysdales, who used non-toxic products to clean my husband, Joel’s, office. There were no toxic fumes, the carpets look great and dried quickly.
BEST BET- Make your own cleaners.
Deodorize: To deodorize a carpet sprinkle baking soda and let sit for at least an hour then vacuum.
Remove stains: The Smart Mama has some great tips for wine and coffee:
- Wine- blot (don’t rub) and then throw on some coarse salt and leave overnight. The salt will absorb the color and keep it from setting, Mix 1 cup cool water, 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) and a very small squirt of dish-washing soap. Spray on the area, and gently blot up, working the stain out. Don’t saturate the carpet. Once done, put a clean white rag or towel over the area to wick up the moisture.
- Coffee and other spot cleaning-blot and then use a mixture of water and distilled white vinegar (I use this for cleaning most things). Let sit for 15 minutes then blot again with damp cloth.
Shampooing carpet: According to 1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar-straight up vinegar and warm water will do the trick.
After serving us well for 11 years we are about to rip up that comfy, cozy carpet and replace it with some form of flooring. It’s a work in progress (slow progress) with more info to come. Stay tuned…..
How do you clean your carpets? Any groovy green suggestions?
[Photo used under Creative Commons from Abby Lanes and Liz West/Flickr]
[Disclosure: There are a few Amazon Links in this article. If you choose to buy the products it will place a few pennies in my pocket. Thank you!]