#1 – GERMS
According to microbiologist Dr. Philip Tierno of NYU Langone Medical Center, carpet can contain a shocking 200,000 bacteria per square inch. That’s more than your toilet seat! Most of these germs are harmless. Other, including E. coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus, can cause digestive upset, skin infections, respiratory illness, or allergic reactions.
Solution: Give your carpets a thorough, deep steam cleaning at least once per year.
#2 – POLLEN
Spring is in the air, and that means pollen is everywhere—including on your carpets. Actually, pollen is a year-round problem in many areas, and the dusty stuff easily enters your home through open windows and doors as well as on your clothing. That’s a problem, because pollen is a common cause of hay fever and asthma flare-ups.
Solution: Vacuum your carpets at least once a week. Vacuum more often if you tend to keep windows open or have an allergy sufferer at home.
#3 – HUMAN SKIN FLAKES
On average, you shed 1.5 million skin flakes each day. Multiply that by the number of people living in your home, and then consider that those flakes have to go somewhere—and that “somewhere” is generally down to the floor, where the flakes wedge between carpet fibers. While that’s gross enough, the real problem is that those flakes become dinner for dust mites, and dust mite waste is one of the most common causes of indoor allergies.
Solution: Vacuum regularly, and keep your carpet dry, because dust mites are most comfortable when the humidity is high.
#4 – DOG POOP
Even if you don’t own a dog, it’s almost certain that your carpet contains microscopic bits of dog droppings. Take your child to the park and walk on the grass, stroll down a city sidewalk, step into the gutter as you get out of your car…all day long, your shoes are picking up residue from animal waste, which wipes off onto your carpet when you get home.
Solution: Take your shoes off at your front door, and change into a pair of indoor-only slippers or socks.
#5 – KITTY LITTER
Fluffy is a beloved member of your family, but an indoor cat means a litter box, and that means tracked litter. Once cat litter hits the carpet, it works its way down between the fibers, bringing bacteria, odor, and grit along with it.
Solution: Spread a nubby pad to catch litter next to the litter box. It will trap loose litter and help clean off your cat’s feet at the same time.
#6 – MOULD
One of the biggest problems with carpet is that it soaks up fluid faster than you can blot it dry. That means that spilled food or drinks tend to wick deep down into the carpet fibers and pad, where they become a breeding ground for various types of mould. Not only does mould lead to stains and odour, but mould spores are another common cause of indoor allergies. This is particularly serious if you’ve experienced a flood of any kind in your home.
Solution: Always blot spills dry as quickly as possible, and then follow up with an enzyme cleaner to break down and remove food residue.
However, if you have a serious flood in your home, you may need a professional to clean and disinfect your home.
#7 – BUGS, DUST MITES
A study published in Scientific Reports found that carpeted homes had a greater variety of insects than non-carpeted homes. The researchers theorized, however, that most of these insects didn’t actually live in the carpeting. Instead, once inside the home, many became caught in the carpet pile and perished, turning the carpeting into a plush bug cemetery.
However, dust mites are microscopic organisms that feed on the dead skin cells that we humans naturally shed and they are present in every home. Dust mite droppings can contain up to 20 known allergens. These go airborne every time we walk on the carpet, sit on upholstered furniture, or change our bedding.
Solution: Vacuum at least weekly to remove bugs. Patch up any rips or gaps around windows and doors to help keep bugs out to begin with. In the case of an infestation, contact a professional to clean and sanitize your home.
#8 – DIRT
Your carpet can hold a whole lot of dirt. In fact, there are potentially several pounds of it spread throughout the house. Most of that dirt is tracked in on shoes or on the feet and fur of pets. Some also blows in through open doors and windows, or comes down the fireplace. Once dirt gets in the carpet, it creates stains and can increase populations of bacteria, mould, and bugs.
Solution: Put doormats at all entrances to your home so family and visitors can wipe dirt off their shoes, and vacuum weekly. Call a professional at least once a year to do a more thorough job.