Allergies, a reaction of the immune system to allergens such as dust, mold, pet dander, or pollen, can sometimes be aggravated by wall-to-wall carpeting, but not typically as a result of the carpeting itself. Although some allergens such as dust mites, which are impossible to completely eliminate, may necessitate the removal of carpeting from your home, it is often better for your allergies to have the carpet (as long as you clean it regularly!) because the fibers of the carpet actually attract the allergens and keep them trapped in the fibers rather than floating in the air to be breathed in.
Allergic responses in the home could be caused by a variety of other sources, as well. Perhaps you have had your windows open, or forgot to change the filters on your ventilation system this spring. This would increase the level of outdoor allergens in the air inside your home. You also could be reacting to cleaning solutions, the paint used on your walls, dust in the curtains, etc. Always seek to determine exactly what is causing your allergic reaction before you seek to correct the problem. If you close a window, but the cleaning solution was your problem, you have actually made the situation worse by closing yourself into a space with the product that is causing you grief!
Allergy and Carpet Information
Keep in mind that although carpet can be a haven for allergens, unless you have not cleaned it regularly it is not usually the cause of your allergic reactions. Your carpet actually acts much like a filter trapping the allergens in the floor keeping them out of your breathable air and allowing you to reduce them by cleaning the carpet regularly. In fact, it is rare for a person to be allergic to carpet as carpet is usually made from the same sort of fabric types as your clothing. (Of course if you know that you get a horrible rash from that wool sweater you got from Aunt Irene last Christmas; make sure you talk to your carpeting specialist to avoid inadvertently buying a wool or wool-blend carpet.) There are individuals who are allergic to certain types of carpet or the fumes that are released from new carpet but they are a small percentage. The majority of people will have no trouble with the carpet in their home as long as it is well maintained. Learn more about indoor air quality and ways to reduce your allergy risk.
Below is a short list of some of the most common household allergens that may be in your and carpet. For the most part, these allergens will always be present in your but you can reduce their impact on you by learning more about them.
- Dust Mites
Dust mites are the single largest allergy. Mites are too small to see but live in particles of dust and eat both the dust and human skin that has been shed. It would be impossible to completely rid your of home dust mites but there are ways to significantly reduce their numbers and their effect on you.
- Pet dander
Pet dander is the little flakes of skin and hair that your pet sheds during the normal course of his lifetime. Pet dander, like dust mites, are very small particles that are attracted to the fibers of your carpet. If you have no carpet, pet dander could pose a more significant allergy problem as walking on the wood or tile will kick the dander up into the air to be breathed.
The word “pollen” comes from a Latin word that means “fine flour” or “dust”. Pollen is a very fine, powdery, yellowish grain that fertilizes flowering plants. Allergenic pollen is usually generated by plants that are pollinated by the wind carrying pollen from one plant to another. Because pollen is carried in the air, it is generally a part of your home’s atmosphere, although it will be worse during certain times of year. As with pet dander and dust mites, there is no real way to eliminate pollen from your home, but there are ways to significantly reduce the amount to which you are exposed.
What is Indoor Air Quality?
Most people do not think of the air quality in their home, only when they are outdoors. But the American Lung Association states that we spend as much as 90% of our time indoors, the majority of it in our s. Combine that with the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency states that indoor air is up to 70 times more polluted than outdoor air and you can see that your s air quality is very important.
What do air quality and allergies have to do with clean carpets? Well, have you noticed that when you walk into a house where a cat lives the air itself smells and feels different, even when the cat is not in the room? That is because the cat’s dander, or small flakes of his skin and pieces of hair, is caught in the fibers of the carpet and are floating through the air. No matter how much vacuuming is done there will always be a small amount of air pollution because the cat continues to live in the space. Add to that the normal accumulation of dust and the air quality of the suddenly has an allergen quotient heretofore unrecognized.
Ventilation and cleanliness go hand-in-hand in improving the quality of the air in your . If you have allergies, be sure that your home is properly ventilated. Use common sense when ventilating via an open window, as factors such as paint smells, tobacco smoke, and radon all will negatively impact the air quality inside your house. If you love to have the windows open, but know that you will have trouble during the high-pollen seasons, you may want to invest in a good air purifier, and to install HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter) or other high-quality filters on your ventilation system to help cut down the number of pollen spores in the air and, potentially, in your carpet.
How to Cut Your Allergy Risk with Carpet
As with any product, keeping your carpet clean can help reduce or eliminate any allergic reaction you may be having.
Tips for reducing the allergens in your carpeted home:
1. Place doormats at each entrance- more importantly use them!.
2. Invest in a high-quality air purifier.
3. Install special vent filters on your ventilation system.
4. Vacuum twice a week — this can greatly reduce allergens in the air.
5. Use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter or other “allergen containment” system.
6. Wear a surgical-style dust mask when cleaning to avoid breathing in any dust, dander, or other allergens.
7. Avoid decorating with soft upholstery, tapestries, thick drapes or long, heavy curtains that are difficult to wash and attract dust. Instead, use shutters, blinds, or light, washable curtains on your windows.(Remember to wash them!) Try to use furniture with canvas, leather, or some other dense, easily cleaned fabric.
8. Clean up spills quickly- blot with a clean cloth do not rub or grind into the carpet.
If you move into a new house where the past owners had pets, and you are allergic to pet dander, have the carpet deep-cleaned before moving your furnishings and clothing in. For the first few weeks you live there, vacuum at least twice a week using a powerful vacuum with a HEPA filter. While there will probably still be some small pieces of dander and/or hair in the carpet fibers you will have significantly fewer problems and could potentially eliminate the need for costly new flooring.