I wrote this article in 2008 and having read through it I have decided to reproduce it here as it is still relevant.
I have always been quite interested in environmentally friendly cleaning, having worked as an industrial chemist for 8 years and latterly as a carpet cleaner for 25.(Now 30)
A greener way of cleaning carpets grew out of this and suppliers becoming more aware of the sales opportunities, meant that better products became available.
It is quite possible to achieve excellent cleaning results using a green approach.
How you may ask?
Well first and foremost is the use of much less cleaning chemical, meaning less pollution and less chemical left in your carpet. These cleaning solutions must also be mild, pH balanced and easily rinseable.
Secondly the equipment used to clean must be efficient and effective so that good results can be achieved at a low carbon cost.
So how is this achieved?
There are several different green carpet cleaning chemicals available to the discerning carpet cleaner, my favourite is the sodium salt sodium tripolyphosphate. Now this might sound like a chemical nasty but is in fact a regular ingredient in food and other related products like tooth paste. It has the added advantage of having good detergency, meaning it is effective in loosening soil for the removal by the extraction equipment.
The solution is sprayed onto the carpet, agitated using a brush machine to release dirt and other soils and then extracted with a rinsing solution containing almost nothing but water. There is a small amount of surfactant to make the water wetter and a ph balancer to restore your carpet to a neutral pH.
The water can either be hot or cooler, even cold if the customer prefers this approach, the lesser cleaning effect of cold water being made up by more agitation and dwell time.I would always suggest that using hot water is so much more effective than cold that this is the most green effective option.
The equipment used would be a hot water extraction machine with powerful pumps and vacuums, meaning you the customer gets a very thorough clean and the carpet is left only damp and quickly dries naturally.
Sofas and other upholstery can also be very effectively cleaned using this method.
I have achieved excellent results using this approach and the cleaning environment is much healthier for all concerned as there are no perfumes, optical brighteners, bleaches or hydrocarbon solvents.
Finally I must stress that I am a busy carpet cleaner putting this into practice on an almost daily basis, it works!
Written by Doug Holloway, a qualified industrial chemist who also happens to be a carpet cleaner.