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Green Cleaning Tips and Articles

Cleaning Your Carpet the Green Way

Published: July 17, 2014

Carpet cleaning can be a fairly toxic practice.  Standard steam cleaning formulas contain a combination of harsh chemical solvents and detergents to remove dirt and stains.  After cleaning, harmful residues remain in your carpet and circulate throughout the air.  This "toxic soup" affects the health of every member of your family, especially small children and pets.  

Fortunately, there is an alternative to keeping your carpets clean - green, organic carpet cleaning.  Green typically means that something is environmentally sound or beneficial.  Natural pertains to having undergone little or no processing and containing no chemical additives.  While companies have been capitalizing on the word “natural” for years, they are now turning their attention to “green.” But are the products and services really what they claim?

Be aware that the words "natural" or "green" are no guarantee that products are safe and environmentally friendly, or even effective.  Reading labels doesn't help either. Manufacturers of cleaning products are not required to list every ingredient and some do not list any.  

How does carpet cleaning affect my health?

Studies prove that carpet is actually better for you than hard floors - it acts as a huge air filter, magnetically attracting and trapping dust and mites, pollen, pet dander, chemicals, heavy metals, and other particles from the air.  85% of this is dry and easily removed by vacuuming if you have the right equipment.  A powerful vacuum with a HEPA 0.3 micron filter is the best; otherwise, particles can escape back into the air. The other 15% is greasy and clings to carpet fibers. This "ground in" dirt and spots is harder to remove and needs a solvent for effective cleaning.  

Steam cleaning companies and rental machines often use solvents that contain the toxic chemicals Perchloroethylene and Napthalene.  “Perc“ is a dry cleaning additive which can cause dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and even kidney and liver damage.  Napthalene is both a neurotoxin and possible human carcinogen, according to the EPA.

When toxic ingredients are used in the presence of someone with chemical sensitivities, it is not uncommon for allergy symptoms such as skin rashes, asthma attacks, attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity (in children), constant fatigue, headaches, or depression to develop.   Over time, continuous exposure to chemicals can weaken the immune system, leading to a variety of chronic health issues.  

Why do carpets seem to get dirty faster after being cleaned?

Carpet cleaning systems that utilize natural plant-based ingredients instead of harsh chemicals will not cause your carpets to get dirty faster.  However, when synthetic solvents, detergents, and “optical brighteners”  are used, rapid re-soiling is common. This is because “left behind" soap and chemicals are sticky and act like magnets to attract more dirt.  

In addition, when large amounts of water (steam) are applied, only 20% of the total soil in your carpets will be eliminated with one cleaning.   You would need 40 cleanings to get all the dirt.  It is also impossible to extract all of the water.  Wet carpets often take several days to dry, encouraging the growth of mold and mildew after just 4 hours.  

How can I tell if a product or service is green?
To clean your carpets the green way, look for products and services that avoid toxic chemicals that pollute the air and get into our water supply.  Steer clear of solvent-based cleaners with dyes, heavy metals, aerosol propellants, artificial fragrances, optical brighteners, or other harsh ingredients.  

How often should I clean my carpet? 

In deciding how often to clean, consider that chemicals, pet dander, smoke, mold spores, dust mites, heavy metals, and other indoor pollutants hide in your carpet. If you did not have carpet, they would be circulating in the air, which is worse.  Regardless, exposure to these pollutants can pose health risks and contribute to respiratory disease, allergies, and asthma.  If your objective is a healthy indoor environment, it is essential to vacuum frequently with a good microfiltration system and have your carpets naturally cleaned 2 to 4 times per year.  

The Greenway Difference

Greenway Carpet Care™ is different because we use 100% biodegradable, natural and non-toxic, plant-based cleaning products.  Instead of water or steam, we use a dry system that is safe for all types of carpet and rugs.  We also avoid soapy detergents that can cause sticky carpets and rapid resoiling.  Cleaning your carpet is a thorough four-step process. 

First we thoroughly vacuum your carpet with a powerful high-extraction  machine containing a cloth HEPA microfiltration bag.  This removes the loose dirt deep-down in your carpet, along with dust mites, mold spores, pollen, pet dander, odor-causing bacteria, and chemicals.  The  HEPA system traps particles down to about 0.3 micron, preventing them from being released back into the air.

Next we apply micro-sponges made from plant fiber and moistened with  a small amount of natural organic solvent.  We then use a special machine with two large counter-rotating brushes to thoroughly massage the sponges deep into the carpet, all the way down to the backing.  The mechanical action of the brushes, the tiny sponges, and natural solvent all work together to release dirt, grease, stains, and any remaining pollutants, which are then extracted through a final vacuuming.

The result is that your carpets are dry, fresh, and ready to use immediately.  You can breathe easy knowing your family and pets have not been exposed to carpet cleaning chemicals or mold that can remain in your home for years.  You can also feel good that this environmentally friendly process did not contribute to additional pollution or wastewater.  In addition, since no detergents or large amounts of water/steam were used, your carpets will stay clean up to 5 times longer.

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