Allergies affect approximately 50-70 million people in the United States and one-third of these people are children. One of the most common allergens is dust. Dust contains inorganic elements that include aluminum, silicon, iron and calcium. In addition to these contaminants, there are other irritants such as dust, dust mites, animal hair and dander, dead skin, bacteria, mold, fungi, and insect remains found in a typical home.
A common misconception is that carpet needs to be removed from the home if allergies are a health factor– this is not the case, if proper maintenance procedures are used. Recommendations by the CRI (Carpet and Rug Institute) include:
- Frequent vacuuming – Use a high efficiency vacuum with a HEPA filter. Carpets should be vacuumed, as many times per week as there are people and pets in the household ( 3 people and 1 pet= 4 times per week).
- Cleaning the carpet – Hot water extraction at minimum every 12 to 18 months. If the carpet is in a facility or school, cleaning should occur every 2-3 months. This method is preferred over other types of cleaning for its ability to remove the most particles deep within the fiber.
- Use of an anti-allergen cleaner and hot water (the hotter the cleaning solution, the more effective the cleaning). Hot water extraction cleaners can range from 130 to 220 degrees depending on the capability of the system being used. There are also green products that can be applied to the carpet after the cleaning designed to act as an anti allergen by encapsulating the fiber and sealing it.
Carpet is recommended over the use of hard surface flooring because carpet acts as a filter for contaminants and allergens. The carpet fibers hold the irritants until vacuuming and steam cleaning is performed. Dust on hard surface flooring will become airborne due to traffic or cleaning. One of the most effective remedies for health issues concerning allergies or asthma is deep cleaning carpet and upholstery, especially during the winter months, when more time is spent indoors.