Carpet Fresheners: To Be or Not To Be?

Using carpet fresheners or similar type powdered products can cause damage to your carpet. The powder is like tiny pieces of sand that can scratch the fibers of the carpet and cause the carpet to wear out even faster over time.

In severe cases, it can cause problems with air conditioners, and the homeowner’s health. As you walk on the carpet, some of the powder will become air born and create dust in your house, which can aggravate your allergies.

This type of product is also, generally, overused. You can spend hours vacuuming the carpet and you will not be able to remove all the powder because these powders are so fine that they work themselves through the backing of the carpet and down to the pad. No amount of vacuuming or cleaning will remove the powder from beneath the carpet.

It is important to remember that whatever you put into your carpet you need to be able to take back out. Instead of using products that not only leave behind the dreaded residue but cause actual damage to your carpet we suggest taking proper care of your carpet. The first step is to vacuum thoroughly to remove soil that might be causing odor. The way in which you vacuum is as important as making sure your vacuum is well-functioning and properly-filtered.
To properly vacuum it is suggested that you use slow, repetitive front to back motions in an overlapping sequence, moving slightly to the right or left every four strokes. If you are unable to rid your carpet of odor, it is highly probable you need to call a professional cleaning company equipped to handle your issue.

The following chart from the IICRC S100 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Carpet Cleaning serves as a guideline for recommending cleaning frequencies for carpet. They consider traffic, soil rating, vacuuming schedules, spot cleaning schedules, and professional interim and restorative cleaning.

Residential Carpet Cleaning Frequency Chart 

Traffic Soil Rating Carpet Owner/Maintainer Professional Carpet Cleaner/Restorer
Vacuuming Spot Cleaning Heavy-Use Area Cleaning Restorative Cleaning
Light Soil 1x per week Daily or as soon as spots are noticed Traffic areas every 12 to 18 months Every 2 years or per manufacturer warranty
Normal Soil
(families with children, elderly)
1 to 2 x per week Daily or as soon as spots are noticed Traffic areas every
6 to 12 months
Annually
Heavy Soil (families with pets, smoking) 2 to 4 x per week Daily or as soon as spots are noticed Traffic areas every
3 to 6 months
Semi-annually (2x annually)
Extreme Conditions (large families, multiple pets) Daily Daily or as soon as spots are noticed Traffic lanes every
2 to 3 months
Quarterly (4x annually)

 

What about the health affects mentioned in the beginning?

Here is an in depth look at just what is in Carpet “Deodorizers”.

Carpet Fresh Carpet Refresher  Manufacturer: WD-40, 1061 Cudahy Place, San Diego, CA, 92110.  800-448-9340.  The product is a white powder that is sprinkled onto carpeting, then vacuumed up.  Ingredients: Fragrance oil.  CAS number: Not established.  Hazard data: Not established.  Effects of inhalation overexposure: Possible mild mucous irritation.  First Aid Procedure: Remove to fresh air. Carpet-Fresh

If “Fragrance oil” is the only ingredient listed, then what is the white powder?  What is WD-40 concealing, and why would a product that’s listed as a “refresher” possibly cause a consumer to have to be removed from it to fresh air?  Perhaps the following will provide a clue:  

Fragrance – Fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to 4,000 separate ingredients, most of which are synthetic. Many compounds in fragrance are human toxins and suspected or proven carcinogens. In 1989, the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health evaluated 2,983 fragrance chemicals for health effects. They identified 884 of them as toxic substances. Synthetic fragrances are known to trigger asthma attacks.

The US Environmental Protection Agency found that 100% of perfumes contain toluene, which can cause liver, kidney and brain damage as well as damage to a developing fetus. Symptoms reported to the FDA from fragrance exposure have included headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and allergic skin irritation. Clinical observations  by medical doctors have shown that exposure to fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral changes. Fragrance is a common skin irritant.

Carpet Fresh Pet StainsCarpet Fresh No-Vacuum Carpet Refresher  Manufacturer: WD-40.  Ingredients: Liquefied petroleum gas (CAS # 68476-85-7), Isopropanol (CAS # 67-63-0).  “Inhalation: No adverse effects experienced in an otherwise healthy individual exposed to this product during normal use.  Excessive inhalation can cause headache, drowsiness, nausea and lack of coordination.”  

Otherwise healthy individual.”  “Normal use.”  Just don’t stay in a motel with a frail parent or with an infant where this product was used (or, more commonly, overused by housekeepers).

OSHA has classified liquefied petroleum gas as an asphyxiant (a chemical — gas or vapor — that can cause death or unconsciousness by suffocation) and a narcosis (a stupor or unconsciousness produced by exposure to a chemical).  And isopropanol is classified as a cardiovascular or blood toxicant, a developmental toxicant, an endocrine (glands) toxicant, a gastrointestina or liver toxicant, a neurotoxicant, a reproductive toxicant, a respiratory toxicant and a skin or sense organ toxicant.

Arm & Hammer Foam Carpet Deodorizer Manufacturer: Arm & Hammer  (No Address or phone number found on its website.)  The product comes in a 16-oz. can that sprays out as a foam onto the carpet, and once dried, Arm and Hammerit’s vaccumed up. Although this product is available at practically any retail store such as Wal-Mart for consumers to buy and use in their homes, an Arm & Hammer spokeswoman explained that the company only sends out MSDS’s to businesses, not “individuals.”  The spokeswoman did, however, read over the phone the three ingredients listed on the carpet deodorizer. These ingredients are “Fragrance, surfactants and baking soda.”

Again — and again — fragrance can mean anything. While baking soda is certainly a safe product, surfactants are, as the spokeswoman explained, “a detergent compound.”   Arm & Hammer’s Foam Carpet Deodorizer is simply another perfumed mask to counter foul-smelling carpeting with dangerous chemicals that Arm & Hammer wishes to conceal from “individual” consumers.