To make sure your sustainable carpet would keep its sustainable characteristics over entire life, make your maintenance and cleaning routine more green.
It’s becoming easier to enjoy the benefits of making sustainable choices when it comes to flooring. If you are designing rooms with environment and human health in mind, sustainable carpets are a good choice. Nowadays, you can choose among many types and appearances and not compromise on look or functionality on behalf of sustainability. However, purchasing the sustainable carpet is not enough. You should look at the carpet from its lifetime perspective and not impair its good start by maintaining it badly — badly for you, the carpet and the environment. Take a sustainable approach to cleaning and maintain sustainability features of your carpet.
Carpet is the largest indoor surface used on a daily basis and is inclined to get dirty and worn. To retain its beauty and functionality, it’s essential to keep your carpet well maintained and cleaned all the time.
If you’ve invested into a sustainable carpet, you probably want to keep your carpet sustainable through its entire life. It would be a shame if you impaired the sustainability of your carpet by cleaning it without thinking about the environment. That could happen quickly, mostly because many cleaning products contain toxic chemicals, which are bad for the environment and for people. You could easily be tempted into unsustainable cleaning habits because those do not demand much from you. Even if you neglected the carpet, you can often find a magic powder to return the look of your carpet back to new. Unfortunately, the magic powder would probably also be toxic.
A sustainable approach, on the other hand, requires more thought and work. Besides choosing cleaning products with environmentally friendly ingredients, you should rethink your cleaning routine.
Benefits of using sustainable cleaning methods include improved indoor air quality, a healthier facility, greatly reduced chemical waste and a terrific image over a long time, all while reducing the carbon footprint of your carpet.
Nine tips to make your carpet cleaning routine more sustainable
If you would like to make your carpet cleaning routine more sustainable, you can follow nine tips we have gathered from cleaning professionals. Following them, you can reduce the amount of strong chemicals being used, improve the air quality and extend the life of your carpet. All of these tips will improve the sustainability characteristics of your carpet.
- Regular vacuuming
Dry soil accounts for 85% of soil tracked into a building. The most effective and economic means of keeping your carpet free of dry soils dirt is vacuuming. If you vacuum regularly, you can remove 90 to 95% of dry soils, according to The Carpet and Rug Institute. It is recommended to make vacuuming a regular routine to capture the dirt at the surface before it settles deeper into the fibers. Dirt that settles into the fibers is more difficult to remove and requires more cleaning agents. Regular vacuuming also improves the air quality of living and working spaces.
2. Regular cleaning
From time to time, you should clean your carpet using mild and environmentally friendly cleaning products and machines. Routine cleaning prevents soil from building up in the carpet, minimizes its impact on the carpet’s appearance and maximize carpet’s useful life. It is recommended to refresh the carpet with a surface cleaning every six months for the areas with the most traffic (mostly in commercial buildings) and a deep cleaning every 12–18 months.
3. Remove spots as soon as possible
Besides dirt from regular use, carpets also become soiled with spills, spots and stains, which are inevitable. The most important step when dealing with these is an immediate action while they are still at the surface. The longer that they remain on carpet, the more difficult they are to remove, because they penetrate deeper and because they have the tendency to attract other dirt. If you attend to a problem area quickly, less chemicals will be necessary.
When you treat the spill, first, you should absorb it as much as you can. Blot liquids with a dry, white absorbent cloth or plain white paper towels. Then treat it with the cleaning agent. Choose a sustainable one, if possible, according to the type of the spill and carpet. Apply the cleaning agent to the cloth, and do not use brushes to scrub. Work from the edges to the center to prevent the spill from spreading. Blot again and repeat if necessary.
4. Use sustainable cleaning products
For regular cleaning and removing the spots, use sustainable cleaning products. Check the ingredients on the label and look for green certified products. The Carpet and Rug Institute prepared a list of Green Certified Cleaning Solutions, certified by the EPA’s Design for the Environment(DfE) Programs, Ecologo or Envirodesic.
5. At home, you can try homemade cleaning products
If you would like to further reduce the use of chemicals for cleaning, consider using ingredients from nature. Some products from your kitchen are very good at cleaning regular dirt and some ordinary stains. The most important cleaning agent, which does no harm to the environment and can do miracles, is water. When treating spots which dissolve in water, you can remove them by adding water and absorbing them.
Two other useful ingredients for cleaning carpets are white vinegar and baking soda. Vinegar solution, made with the same amount of white vinegar and water, is used for removing the residue from alkaline spills. Baking soda is great for removing odor. There are many homemade recipes for cleaning the carpets on the web, but keep in mind that some might also include ingredients that are potentially harmful for the environment and are not as efficient as professional cleaning products.
6. Follow all necessary steps when cleaning
When cleaning, soaking the carpet with the cleaning agent is not wise. You should know the proper cleaning technique and follow the procedure; otherwise, you could do more harm than good. The science of cleaning consists of four steps, according to The Carpet and Rug Institute:
- Step One — vacuuming. Start with thoroughly vacuuming the carpet surfaces you want to clean.
- Step Two — suspending the dirt. To separate unwanted dirt from fiber surfaces, you need four elements: chemical action, elevated temperature (heat), agitation and time. Chemical action helps dissolve the dirt. Heat accelerates the molecular activity of the solutions employed and thus aids in separation of unwanted matter from fibers. Agitation is required to accomplish uniform solution penetration and distribution. However, do it gently, and do not brush too hard, since this could harm the fibers. You should give the solution some time, because some spots and longer-lasting dirt take time to dissolve and become suspended.
- Step Three — extraction. You need to extract (wet or dry) suspended soils or dirt physically from the pile.
- Step Four — drying. Cleaning is not complete until the carpet is dry. Rapid drying eliminates the potential for microorganism growth and associated musty odors as well as health hazards that may arise if carpet stays wet in excess of 8 hours.
7. Use proper vacuuming and cleaning machines
There are many vacuuming and cleaning machines on the market. Chose those which are energy efficient, use water sparingly and are efficient in removing the dirt. Damage to the environment can be caused also by the improper use of tools.
8. Check cleaning and maintenance instructions of carpet producers
No matter how good your intentions are for cleaning the carpet environmentally friendly, if you harm the carpet doing it, the final result will be bad for the environment. To keep optimal performance of your carpet to its maximum life expectancy, use proper maintenance techniques. Carpet producers know the performance and characteristics of their carpets the best and are happy to advise customers on cleaning. Many of them publish easy-to-understand instructions online. Find and implement them in your cleaning routine.
9. Design your place with cleanability in mind
Designing houses and commercial buildings with cleanability in mind helps to create spaces that are cleaner, healthier, and require fewer cleaning products to maintain. In short, spaces that are better for the environment. In larger buildings, good cleanability can also save money, as the cleaning costs are a substantial part of the maintaining costs. Therefore, choosing carpets that are easily cleaned improves the sustainability of the buildings.
Wouldn’t it be great if the carpets could be cleaned only with water and without harmful chemicals? Thanks to the proliferation of stain-resistant fibers in carpets products, this is not a difficult task. Imagine finding stain-resistant carpets which are sustainable at the same time. Fortunately, there are some. Look for carpets, made with ECONYL® StayClean yarn.
Dispose old carpets responsibly
Carpet, if properly cleaned and maintained, will maintain its beauty and functionality for many years and will make living and working spaces better for the residents and the environment. However, when you finally decide to replace it, make sure to properly dispose of it. Proper disposal is a responsible act which adds to the sustainability aspects of the carpet.
Carpets can be recycled, and many carpet producers have developed partnerships to divert used carpets from landfills by reuse or recycle programs. Those carpets are dismantled, and separated materials are returned to the manufacturers to close the loop. Some materials used in the carpets have excellent recyclability. ECONYL® yarn, for instance, can be 100% regenerated and infinitely recycled. It is possible for you to meet the heart of your beloved old carpet when you buy new carpet made with ECONYL® yarn :)