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Is Carpet Cleaning Safe for Babies?

Elizabeth Jennings

Dirty carpets are an inevitable consequence of everyday living. Ironically, the chemicals used to clean them can be the most dangerous for the ones who are often best at mucking them up: children.

Residues and Indoor Air Pollution

Carpet cleaners can be dangerous for babies, who inhale or ingest residues.

Dry powders, foams and carpet shampoos often leave residues that either stay on carpet fibers or evaporate into the air. The website Healthy Child Healthy World states carpet cleaners can be dangerous for children -- particularly small children who spend more time on the floor than adults, inhaling the evaporating chemicals or ingesting them via hands that touch the carpet.

Spot Removers

Spot removers can be especially dangerous for children, states Healthy Child Healthy World, because they often contain harsh chemical solvents. Fume producers like formaldehyde, fragrances, lye and certain disinfectants, acids and pesticides are also often found in spot removers. However, companies can refuse to list specific ingredients if they claim they are trade secrets, so identifying every chemical may be impossible.

Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning, or hot water extraction, is regarded by the Carpet Buyers Handbook as the most effective method of cleaning carpets. While carpets can be cleaned with hot water alone, professionals often use chemicals with this technique. Steam cleaning can also create mold problems -- which, in turn, can create breathing problems -- if the carpets are not thoroughly dried.