How Your Carpet Could Be Making You Sick
Comments 4 | 2018 Jan 22 | Author John Ward
Carpets can make your home look more tidy and appealing. With a variety of colour options, pile heights and patterns, your choice of carpet adds a unique personal touch and an authentic feel to your room’s overall appearance.
Apart from making your space look more pleasant, carpet floors also cushion your feet from hard or concrete flooring, making it more comfortable for you to walk and stand on.
Compared to other materials like hardwood or tile, carpets also assist in insulating your home. Thicker carpets make room temperatures much warmer, and thus, they help you save on electricity bills and cut down on natural gas usage to maintain a cozy atmosphere.
Carpeting also works as a sound barrier to block sound transmissions between rooms, making your home more peaceful and quiet. It also goes without saying that carpeted surfaces increase safety by preventing slips and falls.
Given all these advantages of carpet floors, it is important to understand that using carpets in your home or office requires a good amount of maintenance, not only to preserve their appearance, but also to ensure the good health of occupants.
While clean, new carpets can make your room look beautiful, dirty carpets can pose numerous threats to your health and well-being. They may look harmless to the naked eye, but beneath the surface carpets can contain hundreds of allergens and pathogens from dust mites and pet dander to mold spores, bacteria and and animal feces.
How Dirty Carpets Affect Your Health
In 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) coined the term Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) to refer to the unhealthy environmental factors in the workplace that undoubtedly affect the health of employees.
According to Dr. Berry Michael, Deputy Director of the Environmental Criteria and Assessment Office, soiled and filthy carpets are one of the main perpetrators of SBS, contributing to indoor air pollution and threatening the health of workers.
Rugs and carpets trap allergens and are home to microorganisms that can release harmful fumes into the air you breathe. They accumulate bacteria colonies, chemical irritants, and microorganisms like mold that can cause both short-term and long-term health effects.
Once these pathogens are inhaled, they can lead to the development of the following health issues:
Dust mites breed on dirty carpets due to the presence of bacteria, fungi, and dead skin cells. These microscopic and nasty critters cause irritations and allergies that can affect people’s ability to perform daily activities.
Both alive and dead, these mites are equally dangerous and can result in inflammation, skin rashes, itchiness, stuffy nose, sneezing and other discomforts.
Dirty carpets reduce indoor air quality and increase the risk of asthma. If not addressed properly, they can lead to other serious respiratory issues that are both alarming and exhausting.
Carpets are deceivingly dirty and unhealthy, and damp carpets are even worse as they are hotspots for asthma inducers like dust mites and black mold.
Gross fact: when dust mites die, their carcasses stay on the carpet, making them easy to inhale and triggering asthma attacks and other respiratory irritation.
As well as housing toxic black mold and dust mites, carpets can also be home to dangerous mycotoxins.
Prolonged exposure of these toxins weakens your immune system, especially your stomach. In worst-case scenarios, mycotoxin overgrowth can lead to death.
Rashes and Fungal Infections
For the same obvious reason you would wear flip-flops to a public shower or pool, you should also clean your dirty rugs and carpets. (You don’t want to deal with gross fungal infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot!)
With continuous foot traffic, carpets accumulate dirt, namely fungi and other microorganisms that contribute to these common and stubborn skin problems.
In most cases, you’ll feel your feet to itch and a rash start to appear. This happens due to the parasitic elements and irritants that enter your body through foot cuts, abrasions and breaks.
Athlete’s foot is the most common fungal infection caused by dirty carpets and FYI it is also contagious.
You can always reduce your chances of experiencing these health problems through cleanliness and sanitation. Follow the steps listed below to prevent your carpet from making you sick.
How to Protect Your Health from Dirty Carpets
In order to keep you and your family safe from the health risks associated with dirty carpets, it is necessary to perform regular maintenance and cleaning of your home.
The following practices will protect you from the threats posed by dirty carpets and eventually improve the quality of your indoor air.
Be careful where you use wall-to-wall carpeting h3
Wall-to-wall carpeting has been used by many homeowners to enhance the overall look of their living space. However, while it is an affordable flooring option and makes your home more cozy, it can aggravate allergies and cause more serious respiratory diseases.
As we’ve mentioned, your carpet is a breeding ground for mold and mildew. It is also vulnerable to stains, moisture and dampness, and the accumulation of dust, bugs, dirt, and bacteria.
This is why you should make sure not to place carpets all over your home. Avoid carpeting in areas prone to high moisture like your kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. Also, experts suggest to avoid putting carpets in rooms used by people with asthma as they may exacerbate the condition.
Use a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Vacuum for cleaning your carpet
The National Center for Health Housing recommends to vacuum and clean your carpet regularly.
However, regular vacuuming doesn’t mean you’ve eliminated all harmful organisms that contribute to indoor air pollution. In fact, using an ordinary vacuum cleaner will simply rearrange dirt without removing particles hidden deep within your carpet.
Instead, use a High Efficiency Particulate Air vacuum or HEPA vacuum. It filters the air from pet dander, pollen, dust mites, mold and other harmful particles using a mechanical air filter, thereby restoring freshness to your carpet.
Replace worn and stinky carpets
Some carpets may last for 10 years while others for 30 years. Although you’ve ensured to maintain and clean your carpet to extend its life, it will eventually get old, tarnished and overused. This calls for a replacement.
A lingering odour from your carpet requires proper cleaning. However, if the odour doesn’t go away even with professional cleaning, it has likely penetrated deep into the carpet pad or subfloor. Believe us, you don’t want to wait for mold to start growing beneath your carpet–replace it early on to avoid massive headaches and expenses.
Old carpets also retain particles and allergens that cause allergic reactions. If you’ve noticed an increase in your allergy symptoms, your old carpet might be the culprit. If this is the case, it’s best to remove and replace it as soon as possible.
Use carpets made of natural fibres
If you’re already planning to update your carpet, make sure to choose a carpet made of natural fibres and materials.
Instead of a large and lavish carpet, which attracts most allergens, a smarter option is a carpet made of cotton, seagrass, sisal, hemp, or other natural materials.
Hire a professional to clean your carpet
A dirty carpet does not just look ugly and smell disgusting, but it also threatens your health due to dust, pet hairs, mold, bacteria and other microscopic organisms that are trapped within its fibres.
If your carpet is not yet too old or worn enough for replacement, doing a deep clean is a great idea.
A professional carpet cleaner will not only remove stains, odours and dirt, but also provide specific solutions to minimize the cause of allergens and pathogens in your carpeted flooring.
Take care of your carpet like you would your body because ultimately your carpet affects your health. Call now for more information about our carpet cleaning services.
How Do I Prevent Carpet Mold?
Many of us love decorating our homes with colourful carpets and rugs. Unfortunately, we often overlook the potential danger of carpet mold. Wall-to-wall carpeting and area rugs, in particular, are at high risk. The best way to eliminate a carpet mold problem is to call a professional mold removal company, such as the certified team of technicians at Mold Busters. Moreover, there are ways you can prevent carpet mold from developing in the first place.
Tips to Help You Prevent Mold from Growing in your Carpets and Rugs:
- Avoid using carpets in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and other areas prone to moisture, wetness, or dampness.
- Minor mold growth on area rugs can be removed with detergent, water, and a steam-cleaning machine. In this case, it’s important to dry the carpet completely after cleaning to prevent the mold from growing back.
- Mold growth in small patches on carpets can also be removed by removing the moldy section of the carpet and replacing it with a new piece of carpeting.
- Reduce the number of furnishings around the moldy carpet. This minimizes the chances of them absorbing moisture, and thus that of further mold growth.
- Any water-damaged furnishings around the carpet such as mattresses or sofas should also be disposed of properly during a carpet mold removal.
- If large areas of carpet become moldy, the best solution is to remove and dispose of the entire carpet or rug.
- Reduce indoor humidity by using dehumidifiers. Relative humidity inside a home should be between 30 per cent and 60 per cent.
- Use high-quality carpets. These days, it’s possible to find solid, rubber-slab carpet padding that has antimicrobial properties. Although it can be expensive, it’s worth it as it is able to protect against mold growth in conditions of high humidity.
- When cleaning carpets, use a vacuum cleaner and avoid getting the carpet wet. If, by any chance, it does come into contact with water or any other liquid, dry it thoroughly.
- If you notice a musty odour or discoloration on your carpet, call for mold testing or air quality testing immediately. Make sure that your samples are sent to an accredited lab for complete analysis.
- Install an effective HVAC (air conditioning) system in rooms that have carpets. Proper ventilation lowers the humidity levels and the temperature.
- Clean your carpets at least once a week to protect against carpet mold growth. Researchers have found that, in addition to moisture, dirt is a big catalyst for mold growth.
- Replace your organic carpeting (made out of wool) with inorganic, man-made carpeting such as nylon or olefin, to help prevent mold growth.
- Find the source of the mold or moisture and fix the problem or eliminate the source – perhaps there is a leaky pipe.
- Remove any wet carpeting immediately and allow it to dry completely. Before placing the carpet back, make sure the floor underneath is dry. HEPA vacuuming, after drying the floor and before putting the carpet back, is also a good idea.