It's no surprise that many carpet cleaning solutions, both for the home and professional use, are hard on the environment. To get out tough stains, many solutions rely on powerful chemicals and additives that degrade or completely obliterate a mess, allowing it to be easily vacuumed up.
But many homeowners who are concerned about their own health and the environment are now choosing green carpet cleaning methods over traditional alternatives -- but do they really work?
A quick look at chemicals
Perchloroethylene, used in many dry carpet cleaning products (and commonly known as "perc") can cause dizziness, fatigue and nausea if inhaled, or worse if ingested. It has also been linked to kidney and nerve damage, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Another additive, naphthalene, is created using coal tar and can damage your nervous system if inhaled in large amounts. Both of these products are extremely effective in cleaning carpets, but pose health and environmental risks.
Going green at home
Green carpet cleaning options fall into two categories: those you make and use yourself, and store-bought products that claim to do as good a job as traditional solutions. If you choose to tackle stains yourself without using harsh chemicals, you have several options. First, you can make a nontoxic solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Spray it on stains and then sponge it up after a few minutes using warm soapy water. For tougher stains, you can use a combination of vinegar, borax and salt. Together they create a paste that you spread on stains, leave overnight and vacuum up in the morning. Baking soda is also effective on many organic stains. Simply pour it on, rub it into the carpet and leave it until it's dried. If caught early enough, most of the stain will be sucked up by the soda.
Commercial green cleaners
There are also a number of commercial products on the market that are plant-based instead of chemical-based, limiting their impact on the environment. Popular brands include Biokleen, NatureClean, Simple Green, Seventh Generation and Method. These brands typically work just as well as traditional solvent and detergent options, but their use varies widely by preference. Some homeowners find particular plant smells too harsh or find they need a second or third application to get carpets fully clean.
Considering professional carpet help
Professional carpet cleaners are also going green. Many companies now offer green cleaning as part of their general service. But despite the increasing prevalence of green methods, it's always important to ask a carpet cleaning company what brand of products they use in their machines. If they cannot tell you where a certain product comes from, whether it's plant- or chemical-based or what they do with any waste water they produce, they're probably not so green. .
There are several natural, environmentally-friendly ways to clean your carpets, from homemade remedies to commercial products and professional services. These green carpet cleaning techniques work about as well as traditional methods, but they come with the benefit of fewer health risks for those at home and less damage to the environment.
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