Is it safe to have carpet professionally cleaned?
It is definitely time to get our carpet cleaned, but I was not sure if it would be safe to do with a child around, so I did some exploring.Traditional carpet cleaning chemicals tend to be toxic, and can potentially cause many types of health problems. The chemicals linger in the air after the cleaning process, causing indoor air pollution. They can also remain on carpet fibers and be ingested by children who crawl or play on the floor soon after the carpets are cleaned.Typical symptoms of indoor air pollution include headaches, fatigue, nausea, asthma, sneezing, coughing, and irritation to the eyes, nose, and lungs. Long-term exposure to these chemicals may also increase the risk for serious allergies and respiratory problems, and chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.Mold is another major concern related to carpet cleaning, particularly in humid or poorly ventilated spaces. Steam cleaning carpets can wet the carpet and pad underneath, causing mold to grow. This can lead to headaches, fatigue, allergies, asthma, and other breathing problems.There is a greater chance for health issues if the area being cleaned is not well ventilated, the weather is hot and humid, and/or the room is damp. It is critical that children stay out of the house for at least four hours after carpets have been cleaned, no matter what method is used.EPA recommends: “When having carpets professionally cleaned, find a service that uses a non-chemical and low-water process, and run fans afterwards to make sure that the carpeting dries quickly.”Fortunately, there are now many companies offering safer, greener solutions to carpet cleaning. One popular national company uses a non-toxic cleaning solution that lifts dirt through a carbonation process instead of harmful detergents, solvents or enzymes. It also uses less water than typical steam cleaners, reducing the chance for mold.Before scheduling your next cleaning, do a search in your area for safe carpet cleaning companies and make sure to ask about the products they use.Some Chemicals to Avoid
Benzyl benzoate: Skin, eye and respiratory irritant.
Formaldehyde: Can cause irritation of skin, eyes, nose, and throat; high levels of exposure may cause some types of cancer.
Naphthalene: Toxic to human central nervous system; possible carcinogen; exposure to large amounts may damage or destroy red blood cells, leading to anemia; may also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the urine, and yellow skin.
Perchloroethylene (perc): Gives off strong odor; known to cause dizziness, headaches, fatigue and nausea if ingested or inhaled; linked to kidney and liver damage, and possibly cancer.
Phenol: Short-term exposure through the air can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, and burning eyes.