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New Contributor

flame retardant safety during steam cleaning

Hello I am trying to find out how flame retardants react to heat -- of about 220 degrees F, but possibly as high as 350 degrees.  I am thinking about steam cleaning my carpeting and sofa with a machine that reaches these temperatures, (its boiler goes up to 350, and the temperature at the point of contact with the floor is reported to be 220) but I do not want to create/release toxins into my home. To what temperature are flame retardants "safe" and stable before they break down or are released into the environment?  Also, can you address, specifically, halogen flame retardants? At what temperature do they break down into dioxins and dioxin-like compounds?  Are there any other chemicals that could pose problems when steaming carpet?

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New Contributor III

Re: flame retardant safety during steam cleaning

Heather:  You need to find out what flame retardants are used.  Some flame retardants are designed for use in thermoplastics and can withstand temperatures well above 220F.  Other flame retardants may be extracted by steam cleaning.  Extraction would put the flame retardants into your waste water and reduce the flame resistance of the carpet.  You may also find that the flame retardants used in polyurethane foam (such as you probably have in your sofa) are very different than those used in your carpet.

I suggest you contact the manufacturers of these items and ask them what flame retardants were used and their cleaning recommendations. 

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