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Community and Q&A

Low-VOC Carpet Cleaner

aunsafe2015 | Posted in General Questions on

Is there a widely available type of carpet cleaning (commercial or DIY) that is both relatively green (low VOC) and does a good job at killing germs/bacteria that are embedded in carpet?

I would think high temperature steam would be a decent option, but I’ve called a few “steam cleaning” companies, and all of them have told me that their steam cleaner has chemicals in it that cannot be removed.  They said it’s green, non-toxic, but I’m guessing there’d still be a fair amount of VOCs?

Anybody have any suggestions?  Should I keep trying to find a place that will do steam only?  Should I capitulate and hire one of the places that does steam + “green” cleaning agents?

Thanks for any insight.

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  1. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #1

    What you’re asking for is a bit of a contradiction — you want to “kill bacteria”, but using something “non toxic”, which by definition wouldn’t kill stuff :-)

    The so-called “green” steam cleaning is probably your best option. Low-VOC is probably not what you really want here, I think what you really want is something “non persistent”, which means it doesn’t stay around very long before dissipating or breaking down.


  2. Expert Member
    PETER G ENGLE PE | | #2

    There are some actual steam cleaners available for home use. They just use simple steam, with a water reservoir and heating element built in. Live steam is a very good sanitizer as it deposits so much heat in one place. That said, there's not much control and you won't know if you've killed everything or not. I have used them occasionally and find that they can do some significant good, but mostly on low-pile carpets. With anything deep, the steam never makes it to the base of the fibers. Or, if you do get the whole length of the fiber hot enough to carry the steam, there's so much condensed water in the carpet that drying it out becomes the issue. The process is also slow. For small area cleaning, these are not very important issues, but doing a whole room would be very time consuming. A commercial cleaning outfit with "green" cleaning solutions is probably the best bet for larger areas.

  3. walta100 | | #3

    I think of carpeting as a bottomless reservoir of filth. If you are at all concerned about bacteria, I say rip out the carpet and install a hard surface that can actually be cleaned.

    I have a home steam cleaner but I think of it as a warm mop as the surface that you are cleaning never get very warm (105F) and certainly not hot enough to kill much of anything.


  4. the74impala | | #4

    What are trying to kill? Your question is very vague.

    Hep C?

    Is this for an Airbnb? Or just dirty guests?

    Many pathogens die on their own without a suitable host.

    If you are just moving into a new to you home and want to get the old owner yuck out, then why not ask specifically about VOC content of the "green" option you were offered.

    Just some simple green and a typical steam cleaner would be enough to get the hunks of stuff up, and after drying out, some nastier stuff may be viable, but do you have reason to believe there was a significant source of Hep C?

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