Greening Carpet Care
- By Danna Adams
- February 1st, 2017
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
warns that cleaning chemicals and wet carpets can
contribute to indoor air pollution and negatively
impact the environment. This means that in order
to keep carpet cleaning sustainable, the chemicals
selected must be more environmentally responsible
and the machines used be more effective at removing
moisture from carpets after cleaning.
Reports dating back more than 30 years have
found a correlation between carpet cleaning
chemicals and respiratory outbreaks. Very often,
these occur shortly after carpet has been cleaned.
In one report, children in a daycare center
complained of respiratory problems within a
few hours after the carpets had been cleaned in
Often these outbreaks are caused by the high
concentration of VOCs released into the air from
some conventional carpet cleaning chemicals. High
levels have the potential of serious harm to indoor
occupants, and even when occupants have been
exposed to low levels of VOCs, it has resulted in eye,
nose, and throat irritation.
Fortunately, just as with floor care chemicals,
many carpet-cleaning solutions have been
replaced by chemicals that have fewer VOCs and
other ingredients that can cause potential health
risks. Additionally, some have been certified by
independent, third-party organizations such as
EcoLogo and GreenSeal. Certification means the
products have been evaluated and proven to have
less impact on the environment while maintaining
satisfactory cleaning effectiveness when
compared to conventional cleaning products.
Not only are chemicals now being certified,
but carpet extractors are as well. The Carpet and
Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval Program (SOA)
awards Gold, Silver, and Bronze certification to
machines that pass strict criteria. One of the
items examined is how much moisture the extractor
injects into carpets and how effectively
it removes the moisture along with cleaning solution
and soils. Some low-moisture extractors
use a gallon of water or less per minute during
the extraction process. The more effectively it
is removed from the carpet, the less chance for
mold or mildew to develop. Additionally, more
thoroughly removing carpet cleaning chemicals
helps protect indoor air quality and helps
prevent rapid resoiling of the carpets.
To help aid in cleaning effectiveness and
boost carpet cleaning performance, extractors
should heat the cleaning solution to more than
200º F. Heat improves the effectiveness of cleaning
chemicals, so less may be needed.
Additionally, cleaning professionals and
school administrators need to pay more attention
to the wand used for carpet extraction. Historically,
the only differences between wands were
that some were single, two, or even three jets.
However, new wand technologies have recently
been introduced that remove the “turbulence” of
airflow traveling through the wand, making the
wand — and the extractor — more effective.
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.
Danna Adams is a technical support manager for U.S. Products, manufacturers of professional carpet cleaning and restoration equipment.