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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Green Carpet Cleaning 101

Apr 02, 2012 06:45AM ● By Jonathan Kava


An important way to go green at home is to use green carpet and rug cleaning practices, whether you do it yourself or hire a service. Greater well-being is the number one reason to do this, as health problems linked to traditional carpet cleaning products include elevated cancer risk, liver and kidney damage, skin rashes, headaches, nausea, fertility problems and the aggravation of asthma.

Going green isn’t as easy as choosing products off the shelf that are labeled “green.” It’s important to check for the following harmful ingredients when choosing carpet cleaning solutions: perchloroethylene (dry cleaning fluid), butoxyethanol, dichloromethane, glycol ethers, and petroleum distillates, a term that covers a wide swath of dangerous chemicals. When cleaning home or office carpets with a rented machine, you may need to forgo the carpet cleaning solution that comes with the machine and order something different if any of these five chemicals are present. 

Those hiring a cleaning service should call and inquire about the products that will be used, and anyone buying carpet cleaning solutions should call the manufacturer and request the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).  The company should be able to email or fax a copy of the MSDS that same day, or they may feature the information on their website.  When reviewing the data sheet, check for the presence of the five ingredients listed above and choose another product, if needed.

Fortunately, there are many good green carpet cleaning products on the market, and most are based on a variety of plant-derived detergents that may include one or more of the following:  coconut oil derivatives, orange oil derivatives, plant seed oils, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or enzymes.  The newest, cutting-edge trend in green carpet cleaning is to use electrolyzed water.  This is salt and water that have been passed over electrically charged metal plates and separated into alkaline and acid components. The alkaline portion of the water is then used as a cleaning solution.

While some people express concern about the use of ethyl alcohol or ammonia in cleaning products, they do not usually pose a health problem or risk. While ammonia in any moderate concentration is caustic, most carpet cleaners use it for spot removal, which allows the fumes to fully dissipate before anyone would notice them. Ammonia is a natural by-product of the metabolism of some animals, especially bacteria, and not a carcinogen. 

Jonathan Kava is the owner of Green Homes Carpet Cleaning, located in Franklin. For more information visit or call 774-571-1973.