How to Clean Carpets Safely

How to: Clean carpets shutterstock_141937027without harming kids, pets or the environment

Is it time to clean the winter dirt and spring-time grime out of your carpets?

Are you concerned that rug cleaners and shampoos could harm your children, pets and the environment?

Here are some simple things you can do to clean your carpets safely and effectively — whether you do it yourself or use a professional service — without impacting people, pets or the environment. Covington_Infographic_final_FULLIMAGE

1. Use common pantry items to remove stains.
It turns out an old urban myth is true: club soda can remove beer, wine and certain food stains from rugs. Simply blot the affected area with a clean cloth soaked in plain club soda. (Don't rub. It will only spread the stain.)

If this doesn't work, mix up a solution of half water and vinegar. Spray it on the stain and let it soak for ten to fifteen minutes. Then use a clean sponge to blot up and remove the stain. You may need to repeat this a few times to completely eliminate it.

This process may take a little extra effort, but you'll feel good knowing your kids and pets are playing on carpets that have been cleaned with safe kitchen items like club soda and vinegar rather than harsh cleaners.

2. Compare carpet-cleaning services.
If you use a professional to clean your carpets, don’t assume that the chemicals and processes they use are one hundred percent safe.

Many use questionable chemicals to get the job done and some that claim to be “green” may not be. Take time to do research online and interview a short list of vendors. Ask for documented proof (lab studies, reports, guarantees) that any chemicals used are safe for children, pets and the environment.

Knowing for sure that your carpet cleaning service uses a safe process and chemicals will help you sleep better at night.

3. Keep it simple.
If you're cleaning carpets to remove dirt, sand or soil tracked in from outdoors, you may not need strong solvents or cleaners to get the job done. In many cases, using plain water in your carpet cleaning machine is enough to flush out soil and dirt. You can even add a bit of dishwashing detergent to help freshen the carpet. (Dishwashing soap with grease-cutting capabilities can even help remove certain oil-based stains.)

Dish cleaners are safe and gentle. They won't affect your kids or pets and they're environmentally safe.

4. Ask questions.
If you use a carpet cleaning service, always ask them how they dispose of waste water. The typical commercial cleaning service generates thousands of gallons of foul cleaning residue that can have a big impact on the local water supply. It usually includes bits of plastic, pet waste, carpet fibers and chemicals that are harmful to the environment.

If a service uses tanks to collect dirty water, make sure they empty them at an appropriate dump site or wastewater treatment plant. (If they say they dump it in the street, storm sewer, pond or other non-designated location, find a more responsible service.)

If the service does not use a tank, it's okay for them to flush the waste water down the toilet or empty it into a floor drain in your home, basement or garage. They should definitely NOT release it in the street, driveway, lawn or anywhere outdoors.

Asking carpet cleaning services how they handle waste water and ensuring that they do it correctly will help you rest assured knowing your doing the right thing for the environment.

5. Try the shaving cream trick.
You trust shaving cream, right? It's a part of everyday life.

Believe it or not, it’s also a solvent for even the most difficult, set-in carpet stains. Apply it to the affected area and let it dry for one-half hour. Next, remove the shaving cream using a clean white cloth. As a final step, spray the stained area with a solution of one-half vinegar and one-half water. Blot it away with a clean cloth and viola — your stain is gone.

Try it and you’ll be surprised how effective this safe option can be!

Carpet cleaning doesn't have to be a harsh or harmful process. There are ways to do it that are safe for kids, pets and the environment. Use common household solvents or plain water if you clean the carpet yourself. Always ask professional services about the processes they use and how they dispose of cleaning residue.