While “green” cleaning in schools and offices is common, less is known about green carpet care. This is unfortunate because, in many facilities, carpet is the largest surface used on a daily basis, and some carpet cleaning methods have the potential to negatively impact the environment.
Let’s define green carpet care to help facilitate the discussion. A working definition may be as follows:
Green carpet care involves using systems, products, and procedures to help keep carpets clean and healthy with the least impact on the cleaning worker, building users, and the environment.
The goal of green carpet cleaning can be accomplished when the following three key principles are employed.
Building User Involvement: Green carpet care is a shared responsibility. This means building users must do their part by immediately pointing out stains, spots, and soiled areas of the carpet to cleaning professionals. Why is this important? Stains and spots have a tendency to attract more soils and contaminants like a magnet, making the carpet unhealthy and removal of the spot or stain all the more difficult. Attending to a problem area quickly also can mean that less chemical will be necessary. Whenever less chemical is used in any type of cleaning, it is better for the health of the user and the environment.
Appropriate Chemical Selection: Similar to other cleaning products, carpet care chemicals have evolved over the years. There are now many green-certified carpet cleaning chemicals. Many of these products’ effectiveness improve when a heated carpet extractor is used. In turn, this can mean that less chemical is necessary, helping again to lower the chemical’s impact on the user and the environment.
The problem with some older or more conventional carpet cleaning chemicals is that they may release high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the air. They also contain a number of ingredients that we now know can cause a variety of health-related problems. For instance, some traditional chemicals have been identified as triggering asthma attacks in children.
When transferring from conventional to Green carpet cleaning, facility managers and cleaning professionals must be aware that all Green-certified chemicals are not alike. Some chemicals may work better in different situations and on certain types of carpet. Trial and error may be called for; however, a chemical solution will invariably be identified that is not only effective but also environmentally preferable. This is true of spotters as well, removed to remove carpet spots and stains.