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Carpeting and Asthma/Allergy Sufferers - A Bad Mix?

Jan 11, 2008
I just finished doing a Google search on this subject. It seems for every website or blog or newsletter that preaches about the evils of carpeting in homes, you'll find an equal amount to support carpeting as the floor covering of choice for allergy sufferers and asthmatics.

So, Who Are You Supposed to Believe?

I don't have these health issues. Never did. But I know plenty of people that do and they would do anything get rid of these maladies and feel better. Is ripping out the carpeting the answer?

I'm in the cleaning business. And a large chunk of our business is cleaning carpet for residential homeowners. So, my opinions on this debate most likely would be viewed suspiciously as tainted, biased, and prejudiced.

But this is what I do know for sure - only 12 people out of 100 clean their carpeting... ever. Of that number, about a third choose to do it themselves. Vacuuming? Most people say they vacuum every week. The honest ones tell me they're lucky to vacuum the carpets once a month.

Sales marketing teaches that word choice is critical when selling. So, when describing the carpeting in a client's home, we always use the word "soiled".

But you know what, I'm not selling nothin' here so I'm gonna to call it what it really is: Dirty, filthy, bacteria and dust mite infested carpet.

It Comes Down to Two Distinct Issues

The first one is the maintenance issue.

How many people would tolerate their hard surface flooring (tile, wood, etc.) having spills and food and mud and grease all over it... and then keep it that way for years!

Try to imagine this scene: Every night, year after year, sitting there in the living room watching TV. And you're surrounded by a floor covered with gobs and globs of dirt, food and drink... some of which has been there since the Clinton administration?

YUCK! Well, you get the picture. People simply do not give their carpeting the same diligent maintenance that goes into keeping hard surfaces clean. They'll put up with spotted and stained carpeting for years. Is it any wonder that health issues are aggravated by an unhealthy and bacteria infested carpet? It's not the poor carpet's fault. All it needs is routine maintenance.

How routine?

Vacuum it twice a week with a quality vacuum that has high-efficiency micro-filtration bags. Micro-filtration bags will trap even the tiniest of particles, such as dust mites and their feces, to keep it from becoming airborne. Then have it professionally cleaned at least once a year (preferably twice a year.) Every major carpet manufacturer recommends this same routine.

The Composition Issue

Many people feel that since hard flooring is... well, hard... that it's a more sanitary surface since there is no place for the dust to settle. And this is true. But if you are an allergy or asthma sufferer, this is really bad news.

The very 'complaint' that people have about carpeting is actually its best characteristic: The fact that it has soft and fuzzy fibers makes it act like a filter or a sink. It traps and holds all of the junk and contaminants we haul daily into our homes on our clothing and shoes.

This is a GOOD characteristic of carpet.

The carpet fibers create a filter-effect and hold onto allergens until they can be vacuumed or cleaned. Hard floors cannot do that. The dust (a lot of which is dust mite doo-doo) has nowhere to land so it's constantly airborne and being breathed in.

In fact, one way to prove that to you is to watch the air in a home when the sun is shining through a window. With clean, carpeted surfaces, you see some dust in the air, but not much.

In a home with hard floors, you see much more dust because there is less surface in the home that holds onto dust.

Even if your vacuum doesn't have a good filter bag, these dust-mite allergens disappear from the air about 20 minutes after vacuuming. This is because they are heavy enough that they've settled back down into the carpet. And if the vacuum uses micro-filtration bags or if it has a HEPA filter, the allergens are efficiently removed before even becoming airborne during vacuuming.

So You Have Two Options:

#1: Have carpet in the home hold onto contaminants, keeping them away from your breathing space, and remove these contaminants with regular vacuuming and cleaning...

#2: Have hard floors in the home, which do not hold contaminants but instead allows them to "hang out" in the air, likely triggering allergen reactions from the occupants...

Here's the bottom line of living with carpeting: Your carpet is a terrific filter. But you gotta clean it! If you don't, the pollens, dander, dust, etc. will build up until your carpet is completely overrun with this stuff, aggravating allergies, asthma and many other breathing conditions.
About the Author
David Gruttadaurio of UBS Clean Care, Inc. is a residential carpet cleaning and janitorial company serving the southwest Indiana cities of Newburgh 47630, Evansville 47725 and Princeton 47670. You can find more valuable information about caring for your carpeting by going to http://MyCleanCarpet.net
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