Is Carpet Cleaning Safe?

Dangerous chemicals.  Scalding hot water.  Carbon monoxide poisoning.  These are just a few of the ways carpet cleaning might KILL YOU!

Maybe I’m exaggerating… but not much.

Here are the three biggest dangers when it comes to using a professional carpet cleaning service, and how to avoid them.

#3:  Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Every few years, there’s a new story about carbon monoxide either killing somebody or making them very sick during a carpet cleaning.  How is that even possible?

Many carpet cleaning machines are mounted inside a van.  The engine of the van powers the carpet cleaning machine, which means the van must be running while the carpet is being cleaned.

Every so often–usually in very cold weather–some clueless carpet cleaner will park his van inside a customer’s garage while he’s inside working.  They think it’s a smart way to keep warm in bad weather.

The problem is, the engine exhaust pumps the house full of carbon monoxide.  I don’t think I need to explain why that’s dangerous.

In fact, the van doesn’t necessarily have to be parked inside the garage for this to be a problem.  If the exhaust is anywhere near an open door or window–even if the van is parked outside on the driveway–carbon monoxide fumes can still migrate inside.

How To Avoid

Anytime you have your carpet cleaned, make sure the workers have their van oriented so that exhaust fumes can’t come inside your home.  And as a side note, make sure their exhaust isn’t too close to shrubs or flowers.  The heat can easily kill plants and could even start a fire.

#2:  Scalding Hot Water

Van-mounted carpet cleaning machines are capable of generating face-meltingly hot water.  Temperatures may exceed 200° F.

From a cleaning standpoint, that’s great news.  The hotter the water, the better it is at cutting through the greasy soil found in carpet.

However, water at such temperatures can cause serious burns.

If you’ve ever watched a professional carpet cleaner, you’ve seen how he plugs two hoses into his wand.  There’s a vacuum hose, which is wider, and a smaller solution hose, which carries the hot water.



Over time, those solution hoses and the metal fittings degrade.  After about 12 months, they are a ticking time bomb.  At some point, the hose or one of the fittings will fail, spraying super-heated water all over the place.

What if you, your child or a family pet were nearby when that happened?  I don’t even want to think about the possibilities.

How To Avoid

I recommend simply asking your professional when he last replaced his solution hose.  It’ll probably make him mad, and he’ll probably consider you a “difficult customer”, but your safety should come first.

If he’s using old hose or doesn’t want to answer, don’t risk it.

Of course, accidents can always happen, even with brand new solution hose.  For example, I once ordered new hose online, expecting everything to be good.  However, the first time I used the hose, the metal fitting on the end hadn’t been properly attached.

After cleaning for several minutes, the fitting blew off the end of the hose, spraying me with 200° water.  It scalded the whole right side of my body, turning the skin beet red.  It was raw and painful for several days.  Fortunately, I was cleaning an empty rental home so nobody else got hurt.

The point is, you never know when something like that could happen.  So I strongly urge my customers to keep kids and pets far away from my hoses while I’m working.  I replace my solution hose often, but I still don’t want to take a chance.

#1:  Dangerous Chemicals

Without question, the biggest hazard when it comes to carpet cleaning is the widespread use of dangerous chemicals.

Most pros use pretreatment that’s made with butyl.  Butyl is a mildly toxic chemical that’s harmful to humans and pets.

And the worst part is, they spray this stuff on your carpet at high pressure, which sends it swirling into the air where it can easily be inhaled.  That’s not a good situation considering butyl is a respiratory irritant, and it’s even thought to cause cancer.

For years, pros have joked about how much they’d love to wear respirators when spraying butyl-based chemicals, but they can’t because their customers would wonder what kind of deadly poison is being used in their homes.

But it’s not really a joke.  Butyl actually is toxic, and people shouldn’t be exposed to it.

How To Avoid

The easiest way to avoid butyl is to not allow it in your home. If you’re looking to hire a professional, ask what kind of chemicals they use. If they are evasive or confirm that they use butyl, look elsewhere.

For example, here at CitruScrub, we use a harmless pretreatment made from just six non-toxic ingredients.  If you read the label on butyl-based products, you’ll find dozens of unpronounceable ingredients that sound like a recipe from The Anarchist Cookbook.

In contrast, here’s what our product contains:

Two harmless detergents

Washing soda (what people used to launder clothes with)

Baking soda

Food-grade enzymes

Orange oil

I’m not even joking–you could probably drink this stuff with a nice steak.  And the real kicker is, it works even better than dangerous butyl-based products

Do Your Homework

This article isn’t meant to scare anybody.  I just think you deserve to know some potential risks about the carpet cleaning industry.

I’m 99.47% sure you won’t die if you hire a pro.  But if you’re like me, and you prefer to know what’s happening in your own home, simply call around and do some research.  As long as you use common sense, you should be fine.

Of course, if you’re in or around Indianapolis, I’d be happy to take care of you.  Give me, the ol’ Rosster, a call or text and I’ll get you fixed up.

You can reach me at 317-370-9075 or fill out the contact form below.


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