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Contemporary lore says that if you drop food on a carpet, it’s probably still okay to eat as long as you pick it up within five-seconds.

It’s called the “Five-Second Rule” and is generally thought of as a harmless thing to joke about or even participate in. If the carpet looks clean, it’s probably safe to eat off of, especially if the item in question was just dropped a second ago, right? Wrong. What if you just vacuumed your carpet yesterday? No. Even after cleaning, it’s still not a good idea. If you’re not using green carpet cleaning products, chemical residue on carpet may be just as toxic as the dirt and microorganisms to be found there.

Researchers at eHow have stated that Noroviruses can live on carpet for up to seven weeks. Campylobacter can cause major illness in immune-compromised individuals and can often be found in carpet. Kawasaki syndrome is a rare (though increasingly less so in recent years) illness caused by a combination of dirt and bacteria that is inhaled—typically from carpets. Luckily, regular vacuuming combined with use of green carpet cleaning products can reduce these risks and result in an 85% lighter environmental footprint than many of the biggest brand names.

Armed with this knowledge, regular carpet cleaning seems like a no-brainer; how does one choose a green carpet cleaning product that is effective, environmentally friendly, and free from ammonia and other harsh chemicals? Ensure that the products you choose specifically list what they can do. Reputable companies will always do this. Beware of outrageous claims and avoid antibacterial products for maximum environmental friendliness.

Ideally, a green carpet cleaning product should neutralize allergens while being completely non-toxic. Look for concentrated cleaners that allow you to modify the strength for thicker carpets or those that need a deeper treatment. Phosphate-free cleaners are best, and don’t forget to rinse and recycle the container! The five-second rule may not be for real, but green carpet cleaning products lead to cleaner carpets and a cleaner planet.

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