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Carpet Cleaning FAQ 1

Q: I have a customer asking about Kawasaki Syndrome. Is it caused by carpet cleaning?

A:Kawasaki Syndrome, or KS, is a rare disease that can strike children under five years of age. It is characterized by high fever that doesn’t respond to traditional medications or treatment. Eventually the child’s eyes become red, while their lips, mouth and throat become red and sore, and a body rash develops over time. One to two weeks later their skin begins to peel around the fingernails and toenails.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has estimated that there are 1.1 cases of KS per 100,000 children. The disease also is more likely to be contracted in the Spring and Winter months. In less than one percent of all the KS cases reported, aneurysms (swelling of the arteries that supply blood to the heart), have resulted in fatal heart attacks.

Obviously any disease that causes suffering in children deserves close scrutiny. Some case studies have shown a “weak but statistically significant correlation between KS and carpet cleaning.” Others have shown no link at all. None have identified any detergent or method of cleaning as the cause of KS. Further, many KS sufferers have had no exposure to carpet cleaning whatever.

The CDC fact sheet entitled, “Kawasaki Syndrome and Rug Cleaning,” recommends the following:

“. . . parents should keep in mind that KS is a rare disease . . .. Rug cleaning, in contrast is very common. In a survey of parents of young children in Colorado, 91% had cleaned their rugs (or had them cleaned professionally) at least once during the preceding two years. Thus, while thousands of children were exposed to the use of rug shampoo (or a steam extraction method of cleaning), only a tiny fraction came down with KS – risk, then, appears to be extremely small. Secondly, no one brand of shampoo or method of cleaning has been more associated with Kawasaki syndrome than another, although most parents of children with KS applied the shampoo themselves. However, in one study, the researchers did find that children who eventually came down with KS were almost always in the room when the shampoo was being applied, or came into the room within 2 hours – significantly earlier than children in the survey who were exposed to shampooed rugs but who did not get KS. Thus, it might be prudent, as with any chemical exposure, to keep young children away from newly shampooed rugs for at least several hours.”


Q: What do you suggest to consumers about finding a good carpet cleaner?

A:I give several suggestions to consumers in this area:

  1. Call the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) Referral Network at 800 835-4624.
  2. Give your zip code and ask for a Certified Master Cleaning Technician in your area who uses hot water (steam) extraction.
  3. Ask to see his wallet card attesting to his Certification. Hint: name on card should match name on shirt or driver’s license.
  4. If his vehicle and equipment is clean and organized, chances are your job will be.
  5. Schedule the job when you aren’t desperate to get it done. Ask questions! Lots of them. Say, “Thanks, but no thanks if you don’t get reasonable answers.”
  6. Get a price in writing before work begins. Refuse to pay for surprise upsells you didn’t agree to.
  7. When the job is complete, fold a white towel and wipe it 10 times across the traffic area. If it comes up filthy, invite the cleaner to go over it again; this time not using his “going-home” stroke.
  8. If you aren’t pleased, complain to the IICRC.

Obviously, I can’t guarantee perfection, but this is a good common-sense selection criteria.


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