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Whether red wine spills during a party or the new puppy has an accident indoors, carpets get dirty. Many people consider themselves carpet cleaning experts because they have been addressing carpet spills and stains from children, pets, and guests for years. Traditional cleaning methods involve products that include volatile chemical ingredients. These substances can create numerous health issues and are unsafe for the environment. An eco-friendly approach is better for humans and the planet.

Issues with Volatile Chemical Cleaners and Disposal

Volatile chemicals in cleaning products circulate through air, where they can be ingested or inhaled by humans. Perchloroethylene (PERC) is a commonly used chemical that can create everything from fatigue, dizziness, and nausea to liver and kidney damage if ingested or inhaled. Children are especially at risk because they tend to play on the carpet before it has completely dried following cleaning.

If volatile chemicals are not properly disposed of, they can pollute groundwater sources. Wastewater created by cleaning carpets requires filtration or treatment to neutralize potential contaminants. The Clean Water Act prohibits wastewater from being dumped into surface water like ponds, rivers, and lakes. It is also illegal to dump it into a stream, down a storm sewer, or onto a driveway or street. Dumping wastwater into the yard is also discouraged because the water can run off into sources that lead to streams.

In certain communities, a special license or permission is required to dump wastewater from cleaning carpets. Many communities require this water to be dumped in a hazardous waste disposal plant. Recovered wastewater must be dumped into a sanitary sewer line discharging into a public wastewater treatment plant.

Cleaning Carpets the Eco-Friendly Way

Carpet owners taking a do-it-yourself approach to cleaning carpets should look for products that feature natural ingredients. Citrus derivations, sodium percarbonate, and sodium carbonate are a few of the naturally derived ingredients included in these cleaners. A homemade natural cleaning solution combines 2/3 cup warm water and 1/3 cup vinegar. A combination of ½ teaspoon gentle laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid and one cup warm water can also be effective.

By regularly cleaning carpets, people avoid the need for extensive cleaning. Vacuuming at least two times per week removes surface dirt so it cannot be ground into carpets. The vacuum cleaner should have a HEPA filter, strong suction, and rotating brushes. Carpets in high traffic areas should be vacuumed several times during each cleaning to remove all dust and dirt.

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