An often-overlooked advantage of carpet is its ability to improve a home’s environment, a benefit to people suffering with asthma or allergies. It is simply a myth that carpet contributes to poor indoor air quality. Carpet fibers can be beneficial in trapping and immobilizing potential allergy-causing particulates, preventing them from reentering the indoor air stream. In fact, studies have demonstrated that dust-borne allergens in carpeted areas are always far below levels in the air above hard surface floors.
The majority of allergens may be removed from carpet by regular vacuuming (using a high-efficiency filter) and by periodic cleaning with the hot-water extraction or steam-cleaning method.
Carpets and allergens—answers to some common misconceptions
Some bio-pollutants, such as animal dander, dust mites, and mold, have been linked to allergies and asthma—and many of these substances are commonly found in the home. It’s important to understand that the mere presence of allergens does not pose a hazard. For an allergen to have an impact on human systems, it must be inhaled; and for inhalation to occur, it must be airborne.
Carpet acts as a trap for allergens
Carpet is capable of holding significant quantities of soil, dust, etc., without appearing dirty. Carpet is quite efficient at keeping allergens and other small particles, such as pollen, out of the air. In fact, data from a Swedish government study indicates that when use of carpet declined, the number of people reporting allergy problems increased.
Two key steps—1) regular cleaning using a vacuum with a high-efficiency filter, and 2) periodic cleaning using hot-water extraction (or “steam cleaning”)—remove the majority of allergens from carpet and significantly reduce mite populations.