Cleaning carpets is essential to keeping a clean and hygienic home, but the process is not without risk.
If you clean the carpets in a bedroom, the floor must fully dry before re-entering. Also, any off-gassing from chemicals found in carpet cleaner fumes needs to dissipate.
A healthy adult is advised not to sleep in a bedroom for 24 hours after carpet cleaning. This absence and sufficient room ventilation will reduce the immediate risk of chemicals in the cleaning solution.
Those with a respiratory condition like asthma should wait at least 48 hours before sleeping in a freshly-cleaned bedroom. The same applies to the elderly, babies, and pregnant women.
Some carpet cleaners are safer than others but don’t assume that a product labeled ‘mild’ is devoid of chemicals. If you need to sleep in a 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 a room as soon as they are dry. However, steam cleaning will only lift so much dirt, so you may need a specialist solution.
If you decide to clean your carpets using a chemical solution or hire a professional carpet cleaning company to do the job for you, don’t immediately attempt to 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, especially respiratory concerns, should wait 48 hours before entering a bedroom that has recently undergone carpet cleaning. 48 hours is usually safe.
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 of cleaning.
This leads to staining that’s even more stubborn than those you eradicated in the first place. Most carpets will dry within 6 hours, depending on ambient temperatures and air distribution.
Carpets must fully dry within 24 hours, as leaving them damp attracts mold and mildew. If you’re concerned about how quickly a bedroom carpet will dry, rent an industrial fan that dries flooring in under an hour.
In professional carpet cleaners, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are of greater concern. When laying a new carpet, you must allow VOCs to dissipate before sleeping in a room.
If you try to 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 dangerous, especially to children and the elderly, people with respiratory conditions, and pregnant women.
What Chemicals Do Carpet Cleaners Use?
Different carpet cleaners use varying chemicals – no single set of ingredients that all carpet cleaners use. Take the time to read the label on a carpet cleaning solution.
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?
This depends on the chemicals used and your sensitivity to the carpet cleaner. Even if unaware, you could harbor an allergy 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 where possible.
Some chemicals used in carpet cleaning solutions must be avoided, including:
- Formaldehyde: According to Cancers (Basel), formaldehyde has some carcinogenic qualities.
- Naphthalene: According to Cureus, this is an effective stain remover and moth deterrent that can lead to toxicity.
- 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 that contains no chemicals is almost impossible, so all necessary precautions must be taken.
How Do I Know if I Have Ingested Toxic Fumes from a Carpet Cleaner?
Carpet cleaner poisoning symptoms include:
- Irritation to the eyes, typically leading to streaming eyes.
- Sore throat, potentially leading to coughing fits.
- Piercing headaches, potentially escalating to migraines.
- Trouble breathing and gasping for air.
- Blurred vision.
- Reactions to the skin, such as a rash or breakout of hives.
- Feelings of muscular weakness.
- Foggy thinking and a struggle to remember basic things.
- Nausea, potentially leading to vomiting.
Leave the room if you experience any signs of carpet cleaner toxicity, especially shortness of breath. Head outside into the open air and sit down for a moment, gathering 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 simple to mask the scent of fumes from professional carpet cleaners, as many have in-built deodorizing qualities. If this isn’t the case, air freshener or carpet shampoo will do the trick.
Alas, just because you can’t smell the fumes of potentially toxic chemicals, this doesn’t mean they’ve gone. Off-gassing can last a while and remain prominent for at least 48 hours.
Take these steps to reduce the hazards of sleeping in a room where the carpets have just been cleaned:
- Open all windows if possible – this gives the gases somewhere to escape.
- Consider purchasing an air purifier or house plants to absorb the gases.
- Use a tower fan to move the gases around the room. Avoid sleeping next to this fan.
There’s no immediate fix for VOCs. If you need to sleep in a room after carpet cleaning, schedule your activity accordingly and leave time to ventilate the area.
Can I Make My Own Carpet Cleaner?
If you’re keen to avoid the hazards associated with professional carpet cleaning, you may wish to create a DIY solution. This will likely prevent toxic fumes, but there are no guarantees it will be as effective.
To create a homemade carpet cleaner, follow these steps.
- Locate a solid bucket with a capacity of over one gallon.
- Apply two ounces of an all-purpose cleaning solution – Lysol is the cheapest and most effective.
- Apply a tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent.
- Add a teaspoon of fabric softener.
- Apply a scoop of stain remover, like OxiClean.
- Mix all these ingredients until everything has dissolved.
- Pour one gallon of hot (not boiling) water over the solution. If it starts to bubble, slow down.
Once the solution is ready, apply it by hand using a sponge or scrubbing brush, or hire a carpet cleaning machine from a hardware store and let this do the hard work. Once the carpets are dry, you’re finished.
Using this solution, you can sleep in a bedroom immediately after cleaning your carpets. Review the results after a day or two and decide if you need to upgrade to a professional cleaning solution, accepting the potential hazards.
Cleaning a carpet isn’t quite as dangerous as fitting an entirely new covering to a bedroom floor, but potentially dangerous chemicals will still be involved. Always keep this in mind when arranging maintenance of a bedroom carpet.