Carpet Allergy Solutions: Cleaning Is Essential
If you are allergic to the materials your carpet is made of, removing your carpets may be your best and most comfortable option. If you are allergic to the irritants hiding in your carpet, allergy-proofing your home may help. If people with allergy or asthma insist on carpet but have not picked it out yet, do their allergies a favor by choosing one with a short, tight weave rather than long, loose fibers. The shorter the carpet fibers and the more tightly woven they are, the less inviting the carpet will be to allergens and the easier it will be to clean.
Some maintenance of carpet is required to be able to truly breathe easy. Vacuuming is a good start. Regular, thorough vacuuming of carpeting is essential in order to remove these allergens from the environment completely. For cut-pile carpets, using a vacuum with a beater bar or powerhead attachment is most effective. Effectively cleaned carpet is the best way to combat allergies and raise indoor air quality. There are some tips to help you vacuum effectively.
As a wrong vacuuming way, cursorily going over the carpet a few times a month with the model you inherited from your grandmother. As a right vacuuming way, investing in a model with tight connections to prevent allergens from escaping and a built-in HEPA filter and vacuuming thoroughly one to two times a week. If you have severe allergies, you may want to try to hand off vacuum duty to someone who does not or wear a dust mask.
Bad News For Asthma Allergy Eczema And Rhinitis Sufferers
Carpets can become infested with dust mites whose droppings can trigger asthma attacks and can trap allergy-inflaming proteins which are known to trigger asthma, eczema and rhinitis attacks. Quite often people are searching for a solution to their conditions and the problem may well be right under your feet. For those who have environmental allergies, this can be a serious health issue. In fact, dirty carpets can lead to serious health problems in otherwise healthy people.
What To Look For In A Floor
Rather than burn the place to the ground after reading those horrifying lists of allergens and where theyre found, were going to look at some options on which flooring is best for allergies, and honestly, which one is the worst.
It helps to have some general guidelines as to what makes a good, hypo-allergenic flooring and what might not be so great. In the case of allergies, this is a short list, however, well get into more detail as we go through each option.
Generally speaking, soft surfaces are not going to be your best option, so stick with harder surface floor products and avoid rugs. That opens you up to a wider variety of flooring options than many other project considerations . Stay toward natural products, rather than man-made, to avoid chemicals.
All that said, if youre not confident or unsure of where to start, reach out to your flooring experts at The Good Guys. Theyre here to help with all your questions from allergy-friendly product selection, to installation and maintenance.
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What Is The Best Carpet For Allergies
Carpet and padding are available in a variety of fibers and heights, but some are better than others at controlling indoor allergies.
Synthetic fibers primarily nylon and polyester actually repel allergens. They are not organic so mold has nothing to eat and pollen dries out. On the other hand, natural fibers like wool should be avoided because allergens can thrive in it. If sustainable materials are important to you, you can still ask for a water-based, low-VOC glue to install your carpets.
As for pile height, the shorter the strands the better. Pollen and other particles have fewer places go in short, tightly woven strands. Simply put: avoid frieze/shag.
How Vacuuming Can Make Allergies Worse
My nose was constantly stuffed up and sometimes my eyes and ears itched. I always felt tired but I thought I needed to toughen up. Because I was young I thought I was resilient.
20 years later I finally went to an allergist. I knew something was wrong. My body began to shut down, my immune system was weak, and I was always tired.
I was allergy tested and found out I reacted to over 100 allergens including dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. That afternoon I sat in the doctors office and listened to my allergist give me specific instructions.
His advice detailed how I should organize and clean my home.
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Carpet Care For Allergy Sufferers
Its important to note that any carpet — whether its branded as hypoallergenic or not — must be regularly and properly cleaned in order to cut down on the presence of allergens in the home. Unlike the smooth surfaces of wood, linoleum, or vinyl flooring, the fibers of a carpet can trap and hold dust, dander, and pollen. These substances are then released back into the air when you walk over your carpet.
A strict vacuuming schedule can help, but you need a vacuum cleaner with a good filter, or you may just end up making those allergens airborne all over again. Adding regular carpet washing and shampooing to your housekeeping rotation is another great way to cut back on the amount of potentially irritating particles in your home.
Why Are Carpets A Problem For Allergies
This might seem obvious, but its important to cover the basics.
Carpets are made of fabric, and regardless of whether its synthetic or natural fabric, they collect debris. That includes dirt, dust, and other particles. This is a problem for allergy sufferers because that means carpets also collect particles such as pollen or mold that can cause seasonal allergies.
And thats just with carpet under normal use conditions. Carpeting that gets wet or suffers water damage can become a home for even more harmful forms of mold and mildew.
The main issue here is that unlike other fabrics like clothing or towels, carpeting will hold pollen and mold even after multiple vacuuming or cleaning cycles. These allergens can work their way deep into the carpet, making it nearly impossible to remove them.
Now, these carpet issues on their own dont cause allergies more so than the particles or spores in the air. But they ramp up any reactions that you, your family, or your guests might have if they are sensitive to them. Worse, they can continue to cause problems even after allergy season is over, making residents of your house more susceptible to winter illness and congestion.
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Shaw Industries Denies The Link Between Carpet And Allergies
Lets get the view from the other side. Shaw Industries is the largest carpet manufacturer in the world. Shaw says: It is a common misconception that carpet can adversely impact allergy and asthma sufferers. The statement goes on to say that it commissioned, a series of scientific studies that indicate that effectively cleaned carpet can reduce airborne allergens, making it a viable choice for families impacted by allergies and asthma.
Weve underlined the crucial part of the sentence to point out the issue: Even if the material doesnt cause allergic reactions, no one disagrees that carpet harbors allergens which diminish indoor air quality and lead to reactions.
The Marketing of Hypoallergenic Carpeting
The Dictionary.com definition applies well to carpeting. The manufacturers have a good idea of what materials are more likely to produce a reaction, and they minimize them in the carpet. However, none of the makers are guaranteeing that theyre flooring products absolutely wont cause a reaction.
There is no industry standard, no uniform criteria that determines what carpet can be labelled hypoallergenic. Various brands use the phrase in order to attract buyers impacted by allergies.
What About Allergies To Molds
Symptoms of hay fever and asthma can be caused by the inhalation of the spores of molds. Molds, or fungi, tend to grow on wet surfaces, either indoors or outdoors. The body of the mold produces spores or seeds, which are smaller than pollen and less potent as allergens. Large amounts of mold spores can be found in the air, especially in the spring and fall. They are usually most abundant at night, especially when it is damp, foggy, or during the rainy season.
Outdoor molds thrive in the soil, grass, dead leaves, haystacks, barns, and stables. They are often found in greater concentration when a hedge is located against a house, especially in shady areas. Spores from outdoor fungi typically enter the house through opened windows and doors.
Indoor molds can proliferate in bathrooms, especially in the shower stalls, damp cellars, drains, potted plants, closets, attics, house foundations, crawl spaces, and sealed-off rooms. A “musty” smell often radiates from these areas. On indoor plants, it is often the mold overgrowth and not the flowers that cause allergy.
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Options For Addressing Allergens And Carpeting
For those that suffer from allergic reactions, finding the proper relief is crucial. An excellent first step is speaking with your healthcare professional on the best steps for your personal situation. But, it is also essential to take action regarding your carpet as well.
According to the American Lung Association, you should consider avoiding wall-to-wall carpeting. Instead, you should opt for an area rug that provides the same comfort but has the flexibility to be thrown in the wash weekly. However, if you are a fan of carpet and would like to keep it in your home, then you should select a low pile or short pile carpet. The strains of such carpets are shorter and woven tightly together compared to their high pile counterparts. So, it leaves less room for allergens to get trapped inside.
If you live in a home where you cannot change the carpet, then you should opt for regular carpet cleaning from the professionals at BH Carpet Cleaning. This will take care of the bacteria that vacuuming does not handle to ensure that you get rid of as many allergens as possible.
How Can You Protect Your Health
Instead of carpets, chose hard-surfaced flooring and rugs that can be removed and cleaned outside. If this is not possible, vacuum at least three times a week with a High Efficiency Particulate Air filter.2 However, vacuuming may disturb settled particles, causing more pollution to become airborne. Deep clean carpets annually using dry steam cleaning. Make sure carpets are properly dried to reduce the potential for mildew.
Kitchens, bathrooms and entryways should always be carpet free because they are frequently damp, providing a good environment for mold. Use durable mats outside entryways to limit dirt entering the home and provide space for people to put their shoes near the door.
As with any building product, if purchasing new carpet, choose a carpet that releases fewer VOC emissions. Request that the carpet is unrolled and aired out in a well-ventilated area for 72 hours before installation. If possible, have carpet installed while the space is unoccupied. Request the use of glues or adhesives that are non-toxic and low VOC. Then allow 72 hours of ventilation before inhabiting the space. Make sure the carpet can be removed later without use of toxic chemicals.1
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency . Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schooldesign/controlling.html#Carpet Controlling Pollutants and Sources. Accessed August 26, 2015.
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Remove Your Shoes Before You Walk In Your Carpets
Most people admit to walking on their carpets while wearing their outdoor shoes. This not only tracks dirt into the house, it also grinds it into the carpets, and vacuuming alone isnt going to get rid of this. Its also common for people to move furniture around to cover stains in their carpets rather than clean the stains. Spills should be cleaned immediately, to prevent stains from forming. If there are stains, stop moving your furniture around and call A OK Chem-Dry to get rid of them.
Remove Common Allergens From Your Home
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Allergies can affect people of all ages throughout the year. Luckily, most household allergenspollen, dust, and pet dandercan be lessened or eliminated with regular cleaning and the right tools, namely a vacuum that can remove these particles from upholstery, curtains, carpets, rugs, and other floor surfaces.
When it comes to finding the right vacuum for the job, you’ll want to look for a HEPA vacuum or a model with a HEPA bag or filter. Vacuums that meet the HEPA standard can remove at least 99.97 percent of even the smallest particles of allergensa level of efficiency that should help to alleviate some of your allergy symptoms.
Here, weve listed our picks for the best vacuums allergy sufferers can buy.
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Best Overall: Shark Navigator Lift
Weight: 12.3 pounds | Bin Volume: 28.48 ounces | Cord Length: 25 feet | Included Accessories: Pet brush tool, dusting brush tool, crevice tool
Effective at removing pet hair
Limited reach under furniture
Our top pick is the Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum, which is one of the best vacuums for allergies and a surprisingly affordable option. It boasts a number of features that will help remove allergens from your home, including a HEPA filter and anti-allergy seal. The filter successfully traps 99.99 percent of dust and allergens, and the anti-allergen seal ensures that the sucked-up particles dont escape the hoses or dirt canister.
A multi-surface workhorse, you can use the Shark Navigator upright vacuum on carpets, rugs, and hard floors throughout your home. It even has a button that allows you to lift off the canister for increased portability and easy cleaning of hard-to-reach places. This bagless, upright vacuum also has swivel steering for better control, and it comes with an upholstery tool and pet brush to help you get hair and dirt off your furniture, making it a great option for allergy sufferers who share a home with the family dog or cat.
What Is The Treatment For Dust Mite Allergy
The most important step is to avoid dust mites as much as possible. Limiting your exposure to dust mites will reduce your symptoms. However, its nearly impossible to completely get rid of dust mites in your environment. You may also need medicines to control symptoms.
Certain over-the-counter and prescription medicines may help reduce dust mite allergy symptoms.
Many people with a dust mite allergy do not get complete relief from medicines. This means they may consider immunotherapy . Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that can help prevent or reduce the severity of allergic reactions. It can reduce the course of allergic disease by changing your bodys immune response to allergens.
Allergy Shots Subcutaneous Immunotherapy is an effective treatment that has been around for more than 100 years. SCIT is a series of shots that have progressively larger amounts of allergen. An injection of the allergen goes into the fat under your skin about once a week during the initial phase of treatment. Many patients get complete relief of their allergies after being on SCIP for one to three years. Many physicians will continue SCIT for a period of five or more years. SCIT can provide long-lasting symptom relief. Many people experience benefits for at least several years after the shots stop.
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What Conditions Are Most Favorable To Dust Mites
Dust mites thrive in warm, humid places. The ideal temperature for dust mites ranges from 65 F-80 F, a common range for indoor room temperatures. Since dust mites have no means of drinking, they are totally dependent on the humidity surrounding them for water. They live best at a relative humidity above 55%. However, it is important to be aware that monitoring the humidity really isn& ‘t sufficient to control dust mites. As the humidity falls, dust mites will retreat from the surface. However, even in very dry conditions, it can take quite a few months to eliminate the dust-mite population.
Dust mites derive their food supply from human secretions and the skin cells we shed. The mites thrive in articles such as feather pillows, upholstered furniture, and stuffed animals that collect sloughed skin cells and secretions. The most favorable conditions for dust mite growth are found in the bedroom. Their favorite breeding grounds are mattresses, pillows, and box springs, as well as blankets, curtains, carpeting, and other fabric items in the room.
The perfect climatic conditions for dust mites occur in North America in the mid- and southern Atlantic coast, Gulf Coast, central Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and British Columbia. Dust mites are rarely found in dry climates where the elevation is over 5,000 feet above sea level.
Allergic Reactions To New Carpet
We need new wall to wall carpeting installed through our entire house, living room and 3 bedrooms. I’ve read that new manufactured carpets contain chemicals. Has any one ever had an allergic reaction to new carpeting? When would be the best time of year to have this work done?
I have mild asthma & have had asthma attacks & hives from being around new carpet. My aunt had a really horrible allergic reaction from the chemicals in her new carpet & had to go to the ER to be treated-she had to have the carpet removed before she could go home!I’ve heard that you can ask the carpet people to unroll the carpet in their warehouse & let it “breathe”& relaease the chemicals for a few days before installing.
If you are very concerned with allergies related to carpet, there are many products on the market that can help.
1. What actually causes the problem is not the carpet but the adhesives. Clearly state to the carpet installer that you have severe allergic reactions and need a non-VOC emitting adhesive.2. There are several varieties of “green” carpet available on the market now. I highly recommend them because they don’t use so many chemicals in the dye. Ask for a carpet that is usable for LEED points and the carpet salespeople should understand what you mean.
Hope that helps!
Carol in PA
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