July 26th, 2011

How to Keep Your Carpets Green and Clean

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green carpet cleaning

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.
Removgreen cleaner spray bottlee 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!]

33 Responses to “How to Keep Your Carpets Green and Clean”

  1. AWESOME article!! I am in the same boat. Our living room carpet is a mess. I resist cleaning it for 2 reasons…one was toxins and the other is that I’m afraid it will get messy again immediately. Are you using the vinegar method? Please update us!!

  2. Thanks for reminding me I need to clean my carpets. 😉 I use Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap.

  3. Hi Lori

    Great advice! One of the ways we decided to go green, and also to reduce toxins in the house is to simply go carpet free as your first point states. So when we built our house last year we did not put any carpet anywhere, nor carpet -like rugs, etc.

    I have to say that once I removed all carpet from my life, I don’t think I could ever go back.

  4. Hi Tiffany-tell me more about how you use Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap. I use Dr. Bronner’s for everything. Do you spot clean with it? Or clean the entire carpet? Thanks!

  5. Hi Evita-no carpets at all, now that’s an interesting concept. What type of flooring do you have in your home? We’ve removed most of our carpets-there are a few rooms left. I can’t imagine having hard wood in the bedroom with no area rug. Very curious to hear about your new house. Thanks!

  6. Thanks Jessica! Sometimes it’s so much easier to just leave it alone, but our family room carpet can get pretty disgusting. I use vinegar constantly for spot cleaning. I have also rented a carpet steamer and used plain ol’ warm water. It worked great! Let me know what you decide to do. Our carpet is coming out soon so spot cleaning is all that’s going to happen.

  7. Lori,

    I put a tablespoon or two directly in the carpet cleaner with the water. Works like a charm.

  8. Great-thanks for letting me know Tiffany. It will add a little more kick to the warm water I’ve been using 🙂

  9. […] How to Keep Your Carpets Green and Clean, by Groovy Green Livin […]

  10. […] Carpet Cleaner, by Lori of Groovy Green Livin’ […]

  11. Remove shoes. This is a sure method to make carpet last longer. If you have a nice home with nice carpet, people generally aren’t offended by this rule.

  12. Removing shoes before you come in the house is such a great way to keep toxins out!

  13. […] extraction (often called “steam cleaning”), dry carpet cleaning and shampooing, among others. Groovy Green Livin has suggestions for ways to keep your carpets “green and clean” using non-toxic […]

  14. I couldn’t help but chuckle at your point – “Don’t install carpet if you have a choice.” Agreed!! Carpets absorb a lot of dirt. Thanks for mentioning the green carpet cleaning service you have used. It’s sometimes tricky to find a good professional carpet cleaning company.

  15. […] companies aren’t required to tell us what chemicals they use in their products? From cleaning your carpets to your every day cleaning supplies, it’s time to reevaluate what products you’re using […]

  16. I think the best way to get clean carpets is to just hire a professional carpet cleaning service unless you have time and money to invest on a powerful carpet cleaner.

  17. I make my own carpet cleaning solution with baking soda and lemon juice. It actually works pretty well, and no chemicals, so I don’t have to worry about my kids!

  18. Wow! I’m using baking soda, but I didn’t know that I can also use White Distilled vinegar to clean my carpet. Thank you for sharing these interesting tips, cost less expensive than using chemical cleaners.

  19. You’re very welcome Gloria. Hope it works for you.

  20. There are many companies now that use natural ingredients which is a big help. You need to be sure to question them carefully low, because a lot of cleaners claim to be natural and are not. Ask them what is in their cleaner. If they hesitate or list more than three ingredients, move on.

  21. I used to hire carpet cleaners before but after a friend suggested me to use vinegar to clean my carpet, I do the cleaning myself.

  22. Great Idea!!I would like to suggest, always consult an expert if you run into problems or have questions about what you should do.This can help avoid costly repairs.

  23. Steam cleaning carpets or rugs is a must! Especially since I have two cats, a dog and a toddler. I move sofas and chairs slightly to put the legs of furniture on wax paper. Thus the carpet and the furniture are protected. I also open the windows to quicken the drying process. I also shake my welcome mats really good and clean them so people don’t track pollen and other allergens inside. But it’s amazing how dirty the flat can get!

  24. I agree it is a struggle to keep the carpets clean, especially with young kids and pets. Our living room is hardly recognizable now. We also hired a cleaning service and the difference is night and day.

  25. Great article

  26. You have some great carpet cleaning advice! I like the idea of just hiring a green carpet cleaning service. That way, I wouldn’t have to buy products myself, or clean it myself! It would be more expensive, but I think it’s worth it.

  27. While it may be tough, getting a steam cleaner and really doing a deep clean on the house everyonce and a while can really work wonders on the floors.

  28. These are great tips for keeping your capret green and clean! I have a cream color carpet so you basically see every mess, so I will have to try these tips! Thanks for sharing

  29. Thank you very much for that helpful information!

  30. There are so many alternative ways to clean carpet that don’t rely on cancer-causing agents. I had no clue salt and white vinegar could be so effective! Thanks for sharing!

  31. I prefer using baking soda that cleans a lot better than dry cleaning.

  32. I make my own carpet cleaning solution with baking soda and lemon juice. It actually works pretty well, and no chemicals, so I don’t have to worry about my kids!

  33. Great tip! My lovely dog always sleeping on my carpet and it smells like.. well, I think you know that smell. I’ll try your tip to solve it. Thanks for such useful tip!

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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