Tina asked: How do I disinfect our carpet? I recently found out that my dog has worms (because she was doing the bum-slide on the my carpet). I have a 7 month old who is rolling and crawling on that same carpet. How do I disinfect the carpet so my baby doesn’t get sick.
If you have a carpet mess that needs to be not only cleaned, but sanitized, white vinegar does the job. Eco-friendly and non-toxic, it’s a great solution for busy households in need of a quick fix. Best of all, it’s completely safe for both kids and pets, safe to pour down the drain, and inexpensive to use. It can kill 99% bacteria, as well as a majority of molds and viruses. Adding it to a steam cleaner will do the double-duty of also using heat to kill pathogens, leading to a well-cleaned area.
You Will Need:
- Steam cleaner
- White vinegar
- Hot water
Steps to Disinfect the Carpet:
- Mix a solution of vinegar and water. If no ratios are given for the machine, you can use one part vinegar to one part water. For severe cases, use full strength vinegar. If soap-to-water ratios are given, replace the portion of soap with vinegar.
- Fill the detergent vessel of the steam cleaner with the solution. Do not overfill.
- Run the steam cleaner over the carpets, following directions for the machine.
- Allow the carpet to dry before use and traffic resumes. It works well to clean the carpets in the evening before going to bed so they can dry through the night. The vinegar smell will dissipate once the carpet dries.
Additional Tips and Advice
- It is always best to spot test carpet with a new cleaner, such as vinegar. Allow the vinegar to sit in a hidden spot (closet?) for several minutes, then blot the area with a clean cloth while it’s still wet. If the color does not wash out or transfer to the cloth, wait an hour for the spot to dry and inspect the carpet again for damage. If none is visible, the carpet can be considered safe to clean with vinegar.
- Wet carpets attract a great deal of dirt, so if it’s not possible to avoid walking on the carpet until it’s dry, lay some heavy duty towels down, especially in high traffic areas. Be sure to remove the towels when the room is not in use so the carpet will dry more quickly.
- If the vinegar smell sticks around after the carpet has dried, sprinkle the carpet with baking soda and allow it to sit for several minutes to an hour before vacuuming it up. Make sure the carpet is completely dry before sprinkling the baking soda on it or it will react with the moist vinegar and you will end up with a gunky mess.
- Steam mops also work well to disinfect carpet. Many come with a carpet attachment that will move across the carpet fibers. It will not clean it like a carpet steam cleaner, but the heat from the steam will kill any bacteria that may be present.
- If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, look for commercial cleaners that will disinfect as they clean. They are available in the same areas where carpet steamers and vacuums are sold.
- If none of the above options are possible, in a pinch you can use isopropyl alcohol, which will kill a majority of pathogens as well. It is a good idea to test this in a small hidden area first though as it can remove the dyes on some carpets. If needed, alcohol can be poured on the area to soak deep into the carpet padding as it will dry much faster than water. It is still a good idea to use dry towels to soak up as much moisture as possible (after allowing the alcohol to work for a few minutes), then put a fan on the area to aid in the drying time. Do not pour white vinegar onto the carpet. Also, do not use rubbing alcohol instead of isopropyl alchol as rubbing alcohol contains other ingredients, including dyes, which could stain the carpet.
- Do not use a different type of vinegar, such as apple cider or wine vinegar. They are not as strong (i.e. not as effective) and they are not clear so they could leave a stain.