Clean Carpets in a Green Way

Dog In Car WindowYou’ve been invited over for dinner at a friend’s house tonight or to one of the monnthly Green Blizzard office parties – arriving with a box of wine (bottles are discouraged) and homemade bunt cake in hand.

You walk in the door and suddenly you’re host makes that awkward ‘you know what to do face’ and you respond by taking your shoes off. It’s awkward, annoying, and borderline pretentious – but could this obsessive-compulsive tradition be a stroke of environmental genius?

Chemical Toxic Waste – Carpet cleaning generates chemically concentrated waste water. What’s worse, the waste water includes hazardous chemicals and the dirt and grime from the carpet itself. According to the Illinois EPA carpet cleaners contain chemicals including sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, and butyl cellusolve.

Among some other aggressive enzymes in carpet cleaners, this handful of chemicals can be very dangerous to both human health and our waterways coupled with the dyes and bleaches in the fabric that are equally harmful for the environment. As with all highly contaminated waste waters, these bi-products can get into our sewer systems and contribute to the eutrophication of our waterways.  Not to mention some of these chemicals are associated with serious nervous system complications.   Why risk having this waste water seep into our water ways and introduce more of these chemicals our local environment.   No one knows for sure what the long term effects are of all these concentrated chemicals in places where they are not naturally found.

Shoes Off – So maybe your relentlessly tidy friends and neighbors aren’t acting so crazy. Just taking your shoes off at the door can avoid the frequent cleaning and faster wear.  Also, putting a front door doormat out for shoe scrapping and stomping can’t hurt in those muddy winter months. It will reduce the frequency of carpet cleaning visits, which will not only keep hazardous chemicals out of our waterways and filtration systems, introduce fewer chemical cleaners into your living space, but also potentially save you hundreds of dollars.

Greener Cleaning Options – If you are going to get your carpets cleaned, consider one of the new “greener” cleaning agents that are coming on the market, that do not contain butyl cellusolve or the chemicals I mentioned earlier.  Ask your local carpet cleaning outfit for their advise.

Home Depot’s carpet cleaning division, ChemDry offers eco-friendlier options and has over 2500 locations nationwide. Also consider going lighter on the cleaning agents and higher on the temperatures. Often thoroughly cleaning with higher temperatures (i.e. 260 degrees Fahrenheit) require much less chemical additives.

This environmental suggestion clearly falls in the the reduce category.  Reduce wear and tear on your carpet, leads to less frequent cleaners, fewer carpet service truck miles, less waste, less need for the chemical cleaners, and a longer life – less frequent need for replacement of your carpet.   After all many carpets are petroleum bi-products.

green writer samantha frapart Be sure to check out our green lifestyle store Green Blizzard Store. Check out these related Green Blizzard articles: Seafood Watch, Are We Eating Fish Into Extinction, Carbon Impact of Meats, Local Produce, Sun Tea, or Growing Basil.


About the author

Samantha Frapart

Samantha was the first staff writer at Green Blizzard, way back during the start-up phase, and has written a series of fresh and spirited articles from the millennial's perspective. Samantha's portfolio of green living tips ranges from green apartment living, urban transportation options, green underwear choices, re-usable coffee cups, bathroom habits, and even…. drinking straws.