Easy Tips For Green Cleaning Carpets & Floors

by Robin Elton, simple.green.organic.happy.

Have I mentioned that we adopted a new puppy? ‘Cause we did.

Have I mentioned that shereally really likes rolling around in the dirt? ‘Cause she does.

Have I mentioned that I spend the whole day walking her, following her around the house to make sure she doesn’t pee, and cleaning up pee because I can’t watch her 24/7? ‘Cause I do.

Yeah, so our carpet has never been pristine, but damage control now dictates that we’re cleaning the things a lot more frequently than we were pre-puppy.

Conventional carpet cleansers are full of not-nice, unpronounceable ingredients like Hydrofluoric Acid (OK, that one’s not so hard to pronounce), Nitrilotriacetate, Perchloroethylene, Tetrachloroethylene and Tributyltin. Not good for you to be handling or inhaling, and not good to be leaving trace amounts of in your carpet for your kids and pets to crawl around on.

So, here’s how we clean floors around the Elton homestead:

Green-Cleaning Carpets:

  • Maintenance is key. Vacuum frequently to keep dirt from getting ground-in.
  • Once every two weeks or so (probably more now with the new dog) I sprinkle baking soda on the carpet before bed to soak up odors, and then vacuum up in the morning.
  • We have one of those giant steam cleaners, which is totally boss on carpet, but heavy and sort of a pain to get out of storage. We only break it out when we need the big guns. (And by “we,” I mean Jeff. I don’t know how and when these roles got assigned, but the kids and I do day-to-day and he mans the big guns.)
  • So on big gun day, first we do the baking soda bit, then follow up with the steam cleaner. We use vinegar instead of conventional cleansers, and then rinse with hot hot water. Yeah. That’s it.
  • If something really stubborn needs spot cleaning, Jeff swears by OxiClean. We have the same big bucket that we moved from our old house six years ago, so a little goes a loooooong way. And OxiClean gets the best possible score for the health-consciousness of its ingredients.

Green-Cleaning Bare Floor:

We don’t have real wood floors or anything fancy that requires special treatment— at the moment it’s just that interlocking fake wood laminate and laminate “tile.” One day, when we no longer have young kids and young dogs, we’ll replace the floors with cork or bamboo or something else suitably eco, but for now just sticking with what we have until it’s worn out seems like the most environmentally-responsible thing to do.

  • I keep a bottle filled with a vinegar & water solution for multi-purpose use, and this is one of the purposes. One kid sprays, another kid ties a rag onto the Swiffer and wipes it back up. Kid #3 plays supervisor and points out missed spots. (This, by the way, is absolutely the most effective way to ensure a clean floor. They all get to be supervisor sometime and they all milk it to the max. Really hot day, or have younger kids? Tie old towels around hands, knees, feet and backside and have them mop the floor that way.) No need to rinse, and the vinegar smell dissipates upon drying.
  • If someone is coming over and I don’t want the vinegar smell at all, I’ll dilute a sweet-smelling storebought multi-purpose cleaner. The brand varies depending on my mood, but faves include Ecover (lemon fragrance) or Sun & Earth (super yummy citrus). Sun & Earth is local to me, so they get extra-special bonus points.

….And that’s all, folks. We like to keep it simple. And cheap.

BUT I admit I’m totally eyeing up this “Bissell Little Green Multi-Purpose Compact Earth-Friendly Deep Cleaner.” It’s small, so I could use it as needed rather than having Jeff lug up the big machine. The description says

  • A compact, multipurpose cleaner that has been redesigned with a 95 percent reduction in PVC.
  • Manufactured with tanks made of polypropylene, a material that is more recycling-friendly.
  • The brush block is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic and the solution tank also contains parts made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic.
  • All Styrofoam has been eliminated from the Little Green’s packaging, and the carton and inner packaging are made from a minimum of 75 percent recycled corrugated materials.

It comes with an “earth-friendly cleaning formula” but that’s irrelevant for us, since we use the vinegar. But as always, I’m pleased as punch to see a company move towards eco-packaging and materials, closing the recycling circle. It means they’re listening, so keep talking, with your words and your dollars.

How often do you clean your carpets & floors? What do you use?

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