Tips To Improve Household Carpet Health

A shocking quote from a great new book I’ve been reading called Ecoholic Home really jolted me into shifting my cleaning agenda with my home’s carpet. “One researcher said you’d have to vacuum 25 times a week for several weeks to bring the level of contaminants below safety standards”. Yikes!  There’s a shocking statement for anyone that hasn’t started to pay close attention to the health of their carpet. What do I mean by carpet health? Maintaining a regular routine of proper carpet care and here are 3 great tips, mentioned in Super Natural Home, if you’re looking for natural and effective ways to start:

1) If you must buy a new carpet, choose one made of wool.  It’s naturally flame retardant, nontoxic, and non-allergenic, and it deters bacterial growth.

2) Vacuum with a well-sealed, high-quality high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner.

3) A good doormat will stop a lot of toxins right at the door. Or, take your shoes off when entering your house.

Thanks to Beth Greer for these tips. I totally agree with the tip regarding a great quality HEPA vacuum cleaner. My Dyson HEPA vacuum has already make a noticed improvement with the air quality in my home. I also learned that dirty shoes can drag in pesticides and unwanted chemicals into your home. A new found reason to have guests remove their shoes and put out door mats.

Air deodorizer are very toxic and should be removed from any cleaning routines (glade plug-ins, fabreeze, etc.), as they simply mask odour and off-gass phthalates into your home. Same goes for traditional carpet cleaners that you sprinkle, leave, then vacuum.  Skip the toxic route and grab your box of baking soda.  Even better <evil smile emerges>, give the box of baking soda to a young child and watch their delight in sprinkling this natural homemade carpet cleaner. Just like the antibacterial cloths that only need water to clean your windows, children can help out because it’s totally natural and safe. My sons love to help sprinkle the baking soda before I begin a deep vacuum of my carpeting. It’s a good idea to test the baking soda on darker carpets in a small test area first. My carpet is white so I’ve never worried about it.  Another tip before you vacuum is to replace toxic carpet spray for stains and go to the pantry to mix a paste of white vinegar and baking soda, work into the carpet with a brush or toothbrush, let paste dry and vacuum.  Two very easy methods to help remove odours, stains, and naturally reduce pollutants in your carpeting.  A huge bonus is you’re not yelling at your kids to get out of the room while you apply the cleaning cocktail or baking powder because it’s safe for them to be exposed to and even help clean with!

My last bit of research on improving the quality of your home’s carpet is the topic of hiring professional steam cleaners. There is nothing like a deep clean with steam that helps eliminate dust mites, allergens, dust, dirt, and chemical contaminants. BUT – with an extra big BUT…it is very difficult to find professional carpet cleaners that are truly non-toxic. I went with the company Citrus-O for many years, but they continually ask if you want the scotch guard extra (which is offering Teflon coating with the highly toxic chemicals PFOAs – a proven carcinogen). Also, I would always have a headache for days after Citrus-O left my house, dry mouth, and very irritated eyes. I haven’t the time to look over the material data sheets on their site, but my reaction says it all to me. If I find a company I can recommend, I’ll write a follow-up article. Over the last year, I’ve borrowed steam cleaners from friends that own them, and filled them with Dr. Bromers liquid soap (or you could use vinegar).  But if you want to hold companies marketing themselves as all-natural carpet cleaning accountable, ask them if they use either of these chemicals to ‘clean’ with: perchloroethylene (nickname is perc) or naphthalene. Suspected to be carcinogens, they are notorious dry cleaning additives known to cause dizziness, fatigue, nausea if inhaled (sound familiar to my symptoms?), kidney and liver damage. Next time you book your carpets to be cleaned, ask the company these questions and please post back to the comments of this article and share the results.

For more information on carpet health, you can read my recent review of the Dyson HEPA filter vacuum at: Dyson Asthma Certified Vacuum Cleaner


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4 Responses to Tips To Improve Household Carpet Health

  1. J Mason March 1, 2010 at 8:13 am #

    When I steam clean my carpets I now only use hot water. It is amazing how clean they can get even without soaps or other cleaners. If I have a tough stain I spot treat it.

  2. Chelsea March 1, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    Thanks for the great insights into cleaner carpets. Our home environments can have so many chemical contaminates, it’s frightening. Good advice about the wool carpets – wool is certainly natures own miracle fiber.

  3. Kim March 1, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    If you find a great (and safe) carpet cleaning company that services the lower BC mainland, I’d be very interested to know their name. Unfortunately, the carpets in our house are very old but we’re just not in a position to replace them right now.

  4. ChristinaM March 22, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    Thanks again for another great article!

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