New Scientist, The UK newspaper, has a new story on carpet cleaning.
It describes a British woman who was using a commercial carpet cleaner with bad results, causing her carpet to smell and even to turn brown.
She went to a carpet cleaning specialist in Scotland and discovered the carpet cleaner was coated in an ingredient called acetone, a chemical that can be used in the production of paints.
The company had previously told her to rinse her carpet with a diluted bleach solution before using, but this meant she’d been left with the scent of a stain.
A friend of the woman’s had a similar experience with her carpets and discovered acetone in the solution as well.
Acetone is found in cosmetics and in nail polish.
In cosmetics, it’s used to create a base layer that helps make products look brighter, but acetone can also be used to make products stick to surfaces, so they stick to one another.
“It is used to remove the surface coating that gives the paint its color,” says Dr Caroline Gorman from the Institute of Cosmetic Science in Bristol, UK.
“So you would have this coat of paint that was quite shiny and then you would get a little bit of oil and you would leave the coat of polish in a glass jar or something.”
“It’s a really bad smell, it smells like a little smelly paintball, so I’ve used it a couple of times.”
She had no idea that acetone was also used to produce paints for cosmetics.
“It was a big shock to me when I got home and I smelled it,” she says.
“There was some acetone, there was a bit of it in the mixture, it was kind of a strong smell, but it wasn’t like it was bad.
It was just quite strong.”
Acetones are used to reduce the amount of water in a paint, so the cleaner would be less likely to stick to your carpet.
“This is one of the things we know about acetone is it’s very good at drying things out, but you don’t know exactly how much it’s drying out a surface, so you have to know the amount and how much water is in the surface,” says Caroline.
“And it’s just very important to have a good understanding of the amount, because that’s what determines the stickiness and the stick to it.”
A recent study in the journal Chemical Senses found that acetones, found in nail and lipstick, paint, and other products, can make surfaces stick.
Acid and water are essential to life, but there are many things we can do to protect ourselves from them.
The best way to prevent the buildup of acetone and other chemicals is to not use cosmetics with ingredients that can damage your skin.
“A lot of the stuff we use today is made with acetone,” says Gorman.
“We have a lot of chemicals that are based on acetone that we use to make things like toothpaste, toothbrushes, and cosmetics.
We can reduce our exposure to acetone if we use a non-acid, non-reactive base.”
So how does the acetone smell?
“It smells like bleach,” she said.
“And that’s why we use bleach, because it’s an effective disinfectant.”
“So you can get rid of this by using acetone-free, so it will not smell like bleach.”
Acetylene is a highly flammable, non toxic chemical.
It can burn easily, but can also cause a chemical reaction when heated, and if it’s in contact with your skin, it can cause a skin rash.
“Acetyl chloride is the compound that acetylene reacts with in the body and so it can potentially cause a reaction with your body,” says Caroline.
A lot more research needs to be done before people can say they’re protected against the fumes that can cause skin irritation.
“People do think that acetonated paints are safer than normal paint, but that’s just not true,” says Caroline Gorman.
“We’ve got a lot more to learn about acetonation and how it behaves in the environment, but we do know that acetanol and acetone are highly flamable.”
“So if you’re putting your carpet in the car, be careful not to burn yourself.”