Last Updated on October 1, 2023 by Louise Carter
Carpet cleaning is essential to keeping a hygienic home, but the process carries risks.
If you clean the carpets in a bedroom, the floor must completely dry before re-entering. Also, any off-gassing from chemicals in carpet cleaner fumes must dissipate.
A healthy adult is advised not to sleep in a bedroom for 24 hours after carpet cleaning. This absence and sufficient room ventilation reduce the risk presented by chemicals in the cleaning solution.
Those with respiratory conditions like asthma should wait at least 48 hours before sleeping in the bedroom. The same applies to seniors, immunocompromised, pregnant women, and babies.
Some carpet cleaners are safer than others but don’t assume that a product is ever chemical-free. If you need to sleep in a specific bedroom, steam-clean the carpets or use a DIY solution.
Can I Sleep in a Room After Carpet Cleaning?
If you steam-clean carpets, you can sleep in the room as soon as they’re dry. However, steam cleaning will only lift so much dirt, meaning you may need a specialist carpet cleaning solution.
If you decide to clean carpets using a chemical solution or hire a professional carpet cleaning company to do the job for you, you shouldn’t immediately sleep in the room.
Most people can sleep in a bedroom 24 hours after the carpets have been cleaned. Keep the room as empty as possible, and ensure that children or pets don’t gain access.
People with compromised immunity and respiratory conditions should wait at least 48 hours before entering a bedroom that has undergone carpet cleaning.
Why is it Unsafe to Sleep in a Room After Carpet Cleaning?
Wet carpets attract dirt that can be trodden into the fibers, undoing all the hard work.
This leads to stains that are even more stubborn than those you eradicated in the first place. Most carpets will dry within 6 hours, depending on the ambient temperature and air distribution.
Carpets must dry within 24 hours because dampness attracts mold and mildew. If you’re concerned about how quickly a bedroom carpet will dry, rent an industrial fan to dry flooring in under 1 hour.
With professional carpet cleaners, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are of significant concern. When laying a brand new carpet, allow VOCs to dissipate before sleeping in a room.
If you sleep in a bedroom after cleaning a carpet, you risk inhaling VOCs that linger in the air.
This is known as off-gassing and can be harmful, especially to children and the elderly, people with respiratory conditions and weak immune systems, and pregnant women.
What Chemicals Do Carpet Cleaners Use?
Carpet cleaners use various chemicals, so they don’t use one set of ingredients. Read the label on a carpet cleaning solution and understand the risks involved.
Don’t assume that marketing buzzwords like ‘mild’ make a carpet cleaner safe.
Some features suggest a product is safer than others, like a green certification, but a reputable manufacturer should only use chemicals from the FDA’s GRAS program.
Are Carpet Cleaning Fumes Toxic?
Safety depends on the chemicals used and your sensitivity to the carpet cleaner. Even if unaware, you could be allergic to the chemicals in professional carpet cleaning solutions.
The following chemicals are of particular concern, and any carpet cleaning solution that contains them should be avoided whenever possible.
Some chemicals used in carpet cleaning solutions must be avoided, including the following:
- Formaldehyde: According to Cancers (Basel), formaldehyde has some carcinogenic properties.
- Naphthalene: According to Cureus, this is a stain remover and moth deterrent that can be toxic.
- Tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene): According to Frontiers in Public Health, this dries quickly but is a known skin irritant and potential carcinogen.
- Butyloxy Ethanol: According to the Journal of Clinical Toxicology, this can cause mild distress to the internal organs.
Finding a professional carpet cleaning solution containing no chemicals is near-impossible, so all necessary precautions must be taken before use.
How Do I Know If I Have Ingested Toxic Fumes from a Carpet Cleaner?
Carpet cleaner poisoning symptoms include the following:
- Irritation to the eyes, leading to streaming eyes.
- Sore throat, leading to coughing fits.
- Piercing headaches, escalating to migraines.
- Trouble breathing and gasping for air.
- Blurred vision.
- Reactions to the skin, like a rash or breakout of hives.
- Muscular weakness.
- Foggy thinking and struggling to recall basic things.
- Nausea, leading to vomiting.
Leave the room if you experience signs of carpet cleaner toxicity, especially shortness of breath. Go outside into the open air and sit down to gather yourself.
If the symptoms immediately subside, avoid the room for a while. If you continue to experience side effects from exposure to the carpet cleaner, seek medical advice.
How Do You Remove Carpet Cleaner Fumes?
It’s comparatively easy to mask the scent of fumes from professional carpet cleaners, as many have in-built deodorizing qualities. If not, air freshener or carpet shampoo works.
Just because you can’t smell the fumes of toxic chemicals, this doesn’t mean they’ve entirely gone. Off-gassing can last a while and remain prominent for up to 48 hours.
Take these steps to reduce the hazards of sleeping in a room with newly cleaned carpets:
- Open all windows if possible because this gives the gases somewhere to escape.
- Buy an air purifier or house plants to absorb the gases.
- Use a tower fan to move the gases around the room. Avoid sleeping in front of a fan.
There’s no immediate solution for VOCs. If you need to sleep in a room after carpet cleaning, schedule the activity and allow sufficient time to ventilate the area.
Can I Make Carpet Cleaner?
If you want to avoid the hazards of professional carpet cleaning, you may wish to create a DIY solution. This will likely prevent toxic fumes, but there are no guarantees it’ll be as effective.
To create a homemade carpet cleaner, follow these steps:
- Locate a solid bucket with a capacity of over 1 gallon.
- Apply 2 ounces of an all-purpose cleaning solution like Lysol.
- Apply 1 tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent.
- Add 1 teaspoon of fabric softener.
- Apply 1 scoop of stain remover, like OxiClean.
- Mix the ingredients until everything has dissolved.
- Pour 1 gallon of hot (not boiling) water over the solution. If it starts to bubble, slow down.
Once the solution is ready, apply it manually with a sponge or scrubbing brush, or hire a carpet cleaning machine from a hardware store and let it do the hard work. Once the carpets are dry, you’re finished.
This solution lets you sleep in a bedroom immediately after cleaning your carpets. Review the results after 1-2 days (appearance, odor, etc.) and decide if you need a professional cleaning solution.
Cleaning a carpet isn’t as dangerous as fitting an entirely new carpet to a bedroom floor, but dangerous chemicals are still involved. Keep this in mind when caring for your bedroom carpets.