The relationship between carpet cleanliness and indoor air quality is stronger than you probably think.
Carpets harbor pollutants, such as dust, dirt, pollen, mold spores, pesticides and other invisible particles, that all too easily find their way into your home. What’s more, simply walking across the room re-releases them into the air. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce the gunk hiding in your carpet. Start here:
Your carpet can act as a filter of sorts, trapping pollutants until you vacuum them away. The thing is, you have to vacuum regularly to avoid buildup and keep it clean. Aim to vacuum at least once a week, if not three times or more. And the type of vacuum you use is key, too. Choose one with strong suction and a certified HEPA filter, which traps 99.97 percent of small particles. Clean or replace the filter often.
It’s simple math: The fewer pollutants that make it into your home, the fewer that find their way into your carpet. Declaring your home a no-shoe zone is a great start. Change the air filter in your heating and cooling system—essentially a vacuum for your air—at least every three months to help capture indoor pollutants like dust, pollen and pet dander. (Try Filtrete’s Micro Allergen Extra + 2X Dust Defense Filter, which holds as much dust as 50 dusting wipes.)
Other helpful practices include sealing up cracks in your home, keeping window screens clean and using doormats, inside and out.
If you’re buying new carpet, there are a few choices you can make to reduce its role in creating and harboring indoor pollutants. Choose carpet, backing and adhesive with low VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions. Ask that your installer use as little adhesive as possible, or tacks instead of adhesive. Also request that the carpet is unrolled and aired out for 72 hours pre-installation.
Don’t stick around when the carpet is being installed, and allow another 72 hours of ventilation before returning. Begin your frequent vacuuming schedule immediately to help minimize pollutants and keep your fresh start—and your home’s air—cleaner.
Steam clean your carpets, or have someone else steam clean them for you, at least once a year. Do not use shampoo, but do use fans to ensure the carpet dries within 24 to 48 hours; otherwise it may begin to host mold or other types of pollutants that you’re trying to banish.