Residue left from carpet cleaning used to be an issue in Seattle-Bellevue area homes.  In the 1960’s and 70’s many companies were using shampoo which was left in the carpet and turned the carpet into a sticky dirt magnet.  In the 1980’s truck mount steam cleaning really took off but many of the cleaning solutions used still left a soapy residue.  I still remember a local carpet cleaning company (who’s still in business) and they were using Tide laundry detergent back then. But by the 1990’s and into the 2000’s most all carpet cleaning companies were using technologically advanced products and issues with residue in carpets has really become a thing of the past.

Most all residue issues today are caused by homeowners using their own machines to clean their carpets.  The idea usually is if the carpets really dirty “more soap is better” so often times home owners use more detergent than recommended.  Unfortunately once all that soap is in the carpet it’s nearly impossible to remove it all.  The carpets then attract soil so they are cleaned more often with more soap and it becomes a vicious circle.

Still today some carpet cleaning companies have based their whole business model on scare tactics about outdated concerns regarding residue.

Residues from carpet cleaning agents can pose significant risks to human health and the environment. These residues can be left behind due to improper cleaning or inadequate rinsing of the carpet. Some of the most common residues include chemicals, detergents, and solvents that are used in the cleaning process.

Chemicals and Detergents

Carpet cleaning agents often contain chemicals and detergents that can leave behind residues on carpets. These residues can be hazardous to human health, especially for people with allergies, asthma, and chemical sensitivities. The chemicals and detergents can cause skin irritation, eye irritation, respiratory problems, and allergic reactions.

One of the most commonly used chemicals in carpet cleaning agents is sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). SLES is a surfactant that is used to remove dirt and stains from carpets. However, SLES can leave behind a residue that can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.


Solvents are used in carpet cleaning agents to dissolve dirt and stains. These solvents can also leave behind residues that can be harmful to human health and the environment. Some of the most commonly used solvents include perchloroethylene (PERC), naphthalene, and benzene.

PERC is a chlorinated solvent that is commonly used in dry cleaning and carpet cleaning. PERC can cause respiratory problems, neurological problems, and cancer. Naphthalene is a solvent that is used in mothballs and carpet cleaning. Naphthalene can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, and liver damage. Benzene is a solvent that is used in some carpet cleaning agents. Benzene can cause cancer, leukemia, and other health problems.

Environmental Concerns

Residues from carpet cleaning agents can also pose significant risks to the environment. These residues can contaminate soil, water, and air. The chemicals and solvents can also harm wildlife and aquatic life.

Sodium laureth sulfate and other surfactants can harm aquatic life by reducing the surface tension of water. This can interfere with the ability of aquatic organisms to float, swim, and breathe. PERC and other solvents can also contaminate soil and water, leading to environmental degradation.

Precautions to Take

To minimize the risks of residues from carpet cleaning, it is essential to take some precautions. Firstly, choose a reputable carpet cleaning company that uses environmentally friendly products.

Secondly, The carpet should be dried completely to prevent mold growth. Open windows and doors to ensure proper ventilation during and after cleaning.

Lastly, vacuum the carpet regularly to remove dirt and debris. This will reduce the need for deep cleaning and limit the use of carpet cleaning agents.

In conclusion, residues from carpet cleaning residue can pose significant risks to human health and the environment. It is crucial to take precautions when cleaning carpets to minimize the risks of residues. Choose environmentally friendly products, and vacuum regularly. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy clean carpets without compromising your health or the environment.