Three years ago we moved three kids, three outdoor cats, one construction worker, one auto mechanic (my brother), and two big elderly dogs into this house.
A house with cream carpets so brand-spanking new that I had chemical-inducing headaches for a week.
Our first house-related purchase was a steam cleaner and it got a LOT of use. When we bought it we also stocked up on several containers of Bissell Multi-Allergen carpet cleaner.
Paranoid about chemical residue on our carpets- where the kids would be in constant contact with it- I would insist on multiple rinses each time we steam cleaned.
Which is about as much fun as it sounds.
Eventually we ran out of the Bissell stuff, and I kept putting off buying more because it’s really quite expensive, and I wanted to research less chemical-laden options.
The Good Guide had nothing to recommend. No carpet cleaning products earn more than a “fair” rating.
We tried Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds but in spite of multiple trials we never arrived at a perfect concentration- too little didn’t clean enough, too much took forever to rinse out.
Carpet cleaning was put indefinitely on hold.
Last weekend we were having family over for Jacob’s belated birthday cake and presents, and Jeff and I faced the cold hard reality: we had to clean the carpets.
Jeff asked what he should use; I didn’t know. I didn’t want to put the money out for a product I didn’t really want coming into contact with Jacob’s horribly sensitive skin.
“I don’t know. Vinegar.”
And you know what? Jeff tried vinegar. This is huge: a year ago he would have huffed his way to Walgreen’s and bought some Bissell. “Real men use chemicals.”
But you know what else? Vinegar gets your carpets clean! Really, super clean! Six-month-old ground-in pond mud clean!
He pre-treated spots by spraying them with the vinegar-water-tea tree cleaner that I use for everything, letting it sit while we watched Cloverfield (a little over an hour. It’s a short movie).
Then he added two cups of vinegar to a gallon of water and used that in the steam cleaner. And then he rinsed. Once.
And I didn’t make him rinse again.