When it comes to your indoor air quality, your flooring could actually be one of the biggest influencers. Research shows having carpets (as opposed to non-carpeted flooring) can have a negative impact on your air quality - making carpet cleaning services a must. Here's what you should know.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is a term that refers to the quality of the air inside a building - particularly in relation to the level of pollutants that could create health problems.
There are several potential sources of indoor air pollution, such as off-gassing from furniture, carpet, and cabinetry, household cleaning products, excess moisture, tobacco smoke, dust, dander, and more.
Even everyday activities, such as cleaning or redecorating your home, can release additional pollutants. If a building doesn't have proper ventilation, the levels of pollutants can build up to unhealthy levels.
While you might initially focus on what is in the air when trying to improve indoor air quality, your carpet can have a surprisingly big impact as well. Carpet fibers trap dust, dander, pollen, and other pollutants. Any toxic gases in the air can become attached to these materials while they are airborne before settling in the carpet.
When excess pollutants build up in your carpets, they become an ongoing problem for indoor air quality. Each time you walk across a dirty carpet, you kick the pollutants back into the air. Children are especially vulnerable to exposure from these pollutants, since they spend a lot of time playing at floor level.
In addition, many carpets (and the materials used during the installation process) contain harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals are released into the air over time, further lowering your air quality.
While any home with carpet is typically going to have lower indoor air quality than homes with other types of flooring, there are a few situations where carpeting can create even more air pollution concerns.
Some homes use carpeting in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and entryways. Unfortunately, these areas tend to be damp or have higher humidity levels, creating the perfect breeding ground for mold.
For example, steam from your shower can settle into a bathroom carpet. That moisture, combined with trapped dirt or mold spores, can cause mold to grow. Similarly, carpet in entryways is more likely to get exposed to dirt and water from people entering the house.
As much as people love their pets, there is no denying that your furry friends can make it hard to keep your house clean. Carpet fibers trap pet hair and dander. Pets that also spend time outdoors may embed dirt into the carpet when they come inside (unless you dry their paws first).
Pet accidents won't just stain the carpet and leave an unpleasant odor - the moisture often penetrates to the subfloor, creating another opportunity for mold growth.
Even spilling a single cup of water can be enough for moisture to penetrate the carpet and help mold start growing. If this happens in your bedroom, you could begin experiencing allergic symptoms.
We spend a lot of time in our bedrooms (at least 7-8 hours per night for most people), and extended exposure to polluted air could leave you constantly experiencing congestion, irritation and other allergy symptoms.
A case study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health highlights how carpet can impact indoor air quality - and illustrates the importance of using carpet cleaning services.
The case study came about after carpet manufacturers argued that their modern products didn't have a negative impact on indoor air quality - and that they didn't even cause issues for people with allergies or asthma.
Because of these claims, the researchers decided to investigate whether 1980s research that revealed carpet lowers indoor air quality was still valid.
Rather than conducting new experiments or surveys, the researchers performed a literature search of studies ranging from 1980 to 2017. They reviewed material from 49 scientific publications that compared pollutant levels between carpets and hard floors. Some also touched on potential negative health consequences from exposure to carpet-related pollutants.
These studies came from around the world - from Russia to Australia - and looked at how carpet influenced indoor air quality in both homes and offices. The studies looked at a variety of factors, such as the presence of health conditions before and after carpet was installed, while also measuring levels of indoor air pollutants.
The case study findings made it clear that carpet manufacturers' claims weren't valid. The studies they reviewed found that carpet had "significantly higher levels of dust as well as allergens from fungi, dog, cat and house dust mite in carpets compared to smooth/hard floors. […] Removing the carpets significantly reduced the levels of both mite allergens and ergosterol, a component of the cell wall of molds."
Carpeted homes and offices were also found to possibly increase the risks of childhood asthma, as well as wheezing and other allergic symptoms. In some cases, people experienced new health issues such as eczema after carpet was installed in a building.
Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that even modern carpets can still cause indoor air quality problems. Not only does carpet act as a way to trap indoor air pollutants, but it often allows these pollutants to get re-released into the air.
In other words, claims that modern carpets no longer cause indoor air pollution problems are false.
The researchers recommended that people avoid using carpeted flooring when possible, and to undertake comprehensive cleaning in areas that do have carpets.
Most people have carpet throughout much of their home - and you probably don't have the desire or budget to get rid of it. This doesn't mean you're doomed to experience poor air quality. With proper care, you can keep indoor pollutants in check.
For a DIY approach, start with consistent vacuuming. The Carpet and Rug Institute compares vacuuming to giving your car an oil change because it removes dirt and debris that could damage carpet fibers and shorten your carpet's lifespan.
Because of this, they recommend "vacuuming daily in high-traffic or pet areas, twice weekly in medium-traffic areas, and weekly in light-traffic areas." However, while vacuuming your carpets can help remove dust and other debris, it likely will not be enough on its own to address flooring-related indoor air pollution.
To fully maintain your carpet and ensure the best indoor air quality for your home, you should use professional carpet cleaning services like Hippo Carpet Cleaning of Severn. Professional cleaning equipment goes deeper to remove dirt, pollution particles, dust mites, and other contaminants that your vacuum might not be able to reach.
Even more importantly, professional cleaners can remove water and moisture, helping prevent potential mold growth. Deep cleaning can even remove stains and odors, leaving your carpet looking like new.
Professional carpet cleaners may use a variety of techniques to remove contaminants and ensure better indoor air quality. For example, professional shampooing uses specialty detergents to remove all dust and dirt. Steam cleaning and hot water removal kill dust mites and mold spores.
By getting professional carpet cleaning at least one to two times per year, you can dramatically improve your air quality, extend the lifespan of your carpets, and keep your family healthier.
Yes, there are a lot of ways that carpet can negatively impact your air quality. But there is no denying that carpet has some advantages as well. After all, there's good reason why so many people like to have carpeting throughout their homes!
If you do have carpet, you should make professional carpet cleaning a priority. At Hippo Carpet Cleaning of Severn, we can handle all of your floor cleaning needs - even for tough situations like water damage restoration and mold remediation. By consistently using carpet cleaning services, you can dramatically improve your indoor air quality, creating a healthier home for your family.
Contact us today at 410-514-5202 to request your free estimate!