Pro carpet cleaning techniques: Health concerns for young families

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Besides the concerts, cookouts and picnics this summer, there are the house parties to...

Besides the concerts, cookouts and picnics this summer, there are the house parties to throw. If you have carpet in your home, you'll want it to be as clean as possible before your next soiree. Prior to having your carpets cleaned, understand your options and any hazards a cleaning might pose for your family.

Chemical concerns

Chemical use is always an issue in the carpet cleaning business. Older cleaning systems, such as shampooing, use alkalines and/or acids as bonding or dissolving agents. Carcinogens and other toxic chemicals such as propylene glycol monomethyl ether and aliphatic petroleum are often used, as well. Infants, toddlers and pets spend most of their time at ground level, and trace chemicals are the last thing you want them to pick up on their daily adventures. If you have small children or pets, use another carpet cleaning option that is nontoxic.

Hot water extraction versus steam cleaning

In steam cleaning and high-pressure hot-water extraction (the two aren't the same, though they're often confused), little or no chemical products are used to clean your carpet.

With hot water extraction, your carpet is cleaned using hot water. Heated water is applied to your carpet, breaking up any dirt or soil deposits. The loosened particles are simultaneously vacuumed away.

Steam cleaning works just as its name indicates. Water is heated even further to create steam, and often combined with a diluted detergent to clean your carpets. Both methods require a significant period for drying (12 to 24 hours).

The primary health concern with these approaches is the possibility of unrecovered water. Mold spores have been known to form if the water left behind takes too long to evaporate. In addition, neither steam cleaning nor hot water extraction are effective treatments for older carpets made of yarn or wool.

The final verdict

If you've got small children or pets in your home, hot water extraction or steam cleaning is probably the best option for you, as there are little to no chemical additives used in these methods. When you contact your Atlanta-area carpet cleaning pro, ask them what type of technique they favor or ask if they offer other eco-friendly options that are safe for you and your family.

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