Green carpet cleaners offer a eco-friendly alternative to traditional carpet cleaning methods and claim to provide the same results. But are these plant-based products good for stain removal?
It's no surprise that many carpet cleaning solutions, both for DIY carpet cleaning and professional carpet cleaners, are hard on the environment.
For effective stain removal, many solutions rely on powerful chemicals and additives that degrade or completely obliterate a mess, allowing it to be easily vacuumed up.
But many homeowners who are concerned about their own health and the environment are now choosing green carpet cleaning methods over traditional alternatives -- but do they really work?
A quick look at dry cleaning chemicals
Perchloroethylene, used in many dry carpet cleaning products (and commonly known as "perc") can cause dizziness, fatigue and nausea if inhaled, or worse if ingested. It has also been linked to kidney and nerve damage, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Homemade carpet cleaner
Green carpet cleaning options fall into two categories: homemade carpet cleaner used for DIY cleaning, and store-bought products that claim to do as good a job as traditional solutions.
If you choose to tackle stains yourself without using harsh chemicals, you have several options.
if, you can make a nontoxic solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Spray it on stains and then sponge it up after a few minutes using warm soapy water.
For tougher stains, you can use a combination of vinegar, borax and salt. Together they create a paste that you spread on stains, leave overnight and vacuum up in the morning.
Baking soda is also effective on many organic stains. Simply pour it on, rub it into the carpet and leave it until it's dried. If caught early enough, most of the stain will be sucked up by the soda.
Commercial green cleaning supplies
There are also a number of commercial cleaning products on the market that are plant-based instead of chemical-based, limiting their impact on the environment.
Popular brands include Biokleen, NatureClean, Simple Green, Seventh Generation and Method. These brands typically work just as well as traditional solvent and detergent options, but their use varies widely by preference.
Some homeowners find particular plant smells too harsh or find they need a second or third application to get carpets fully clean.
Considering professional carpet cleaning
Professional carpet cleaners are also going green. Many companies now offer green cleaning as part of their general service.
But despite the increasing prevalence of green methods, it's always important to ask a carpet cleaning company what brand of products they use in their machines.
If they cannot tell you where a certain product comes from, whether it's plant- or chemical-based or what they do with any waste water they produce, they're probably not so green.
Some companies, like(Chem Dry) an NJB (New Jerseys Best Carpet & Tile Cleaning) are upfront about the fact that they use carbonated bubbles instead of chemicals. Such companies have earned a reputation for effective and eco-friendly cleaning.
There are several natural, environmentally-friendly ways to clean your carpets, from homemade remedies to commercial products and professional services.
These green carpet cleaning techniques work about as well as traditional methods, but they come with the benefit of fewer health risks for those at home and less damage to the environment.
By Doug Bonderud, Angie's List contributor