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I recently had my carpets professionally cleaned, and spent a little while researching the cost and effectiveness of various methods. But now I'm wondering about the environmental impact as well. There seem to be two main methods of professional carpet cleaning:

  • Steam cleaning, as provided by many commercial services
  • Dry cleaning, as provided by Chemdry (and perhaps others)

And Wikipedia mentions a few other methods that are less common.

Chemdry claims to be more environmentally friendly than "traditional" steam cleaning. But the name Chemdry alone makes me weary of this claim.

How can I choose the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly method to clean my carpets next time?

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  • 5
    Install wood floors, and use rugs that you can take outside and beat clean...
    – bstpierre
    Jan 30 '13 at 0:57
  • Traditional Steam cleaning can use some pretty nasty chemicals that then have to be either removed from the water before reuse, or more often just get released into the sewer/water-table. Not saying that chem dry is actually better just that I doubt its much worse.
    – user141
    Jan 31 '13 at 22:23
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The most sustainable way to professionally clean your carpet is not to. It's a lot easier to sustainably clean wood, tile, or stone, so to the extent you can, the best thing to be thinking about is replacing carpet with more sustainable flooring generally.

However I don't think that's what you had in mind, and so I will discuss alternatives.

National Geographic recommends looking for the seal of approval of the Carpet and Rug Institute but something about these ideas of trusting advocacy groups to rein in corporations makes me a bit suspicious long-term.

I am generally suspicious of large green enterprises. I would suggest in fact going the opposite route, and talking with a small business, and asking to work with them to sustainably clean your home. Ask if they could try a vinegar and water treatment via their steam cleaning machines. The worst they can say is no. Keep trying around until you get someone who is interested in working with you and is willing to put in some of the research time.

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Although this has an accepted answer there is a better way. There is an electrolysis method where water is charged (think hydrogen peroxide) and that is the cleaning solution. The enhanced water leaves no soap or chemical residue as none is used. After cleaning the charge breaks down into oxygen and water, If you don’t believe me take some hydrogen peroxide put it in a glass on your window sill and after a few days in the sun check it (this is why the bottles you buy in the store are brown) but even in a brown bottle it will break back down into water and oxygen over time.

So I believe this is the best process to clean and sanitize your carpets, if you wand to do it yourself make sure to dilute any hydrogen peroxide to less than 3% with water or it just may take any color out of the carpet being cleaned.

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