If you had to guess, what would you say is the dirtiest place in your home?
The counters? The toilet? The toddler’s bedroom?
Well, if you’re like most folks, it’s actually not any of those.
It’s your carpet.
Your carpet works harder than almost any other part of your home; Spills and tracked-in dirt are obvious culprits.
And even if you vacuum, your carpet could be hiding more than you think.
Germs, bacteria, even parasites can make their home in your carpet.
But what exactly is lurking in your dirty carpet? Let’s find out.
Mold and Pollen
Allergy sufferers, beware. You could be allergic to your carpet.
Or, more accurately, the stuff that’s IN your carpet.
Mold and pollen are two of the most common allergens, causing sneezing, watery eyes, even breathing problems, especially in children.
Mold happens when you mix moisture and heat. Think of all the times your little ones (or you!) have tracked in snow or rainwater. Even after it “dries”, that moisture can sink deep under carpets.
Mix that with warmth, either from the weather or from your heating system, and you have a recipe for mold colonies, infesting away under your carpets.
Now, pollen. We’ve all walked outside on a beautiful spring day, only to have our faces suddenly swell up, eyes watering, nose closing, driving us back inside. The culprit? Pollen.
Now, you might think you can find safety from this yellow menace by fleeing indoors. If you have carpet, maybe not.
When you come in from outside, some of that pollen comes in with you and settles on your carpets. So even though you’re indoors, away from all the spawning nature, the pollen is still in your house, making your body hate itself.
Dust Mites…and Other Bugs
Did you know that carpeted homes have more bugs than uncarpeted ones?
The reason here isn’t because bugs love good upholstery, although who are we to judge? No, the pretty gross truth is that bugs fly in, get trapped in your carpet, and die.
Yep. Your carpet is a thick, plushy…graveyard.
All manner of dearly departed creepy crawlies and parts thereof are laying in your carpet, decomposing, being generally gross, and becoming a breeding ground for carpet bacteria. You can usually mitigate this by vacuuming AT LEAST once a week.
Dust mites, rather than doing the polite thing and just dying so you can vacuum them up, actually set up shop and make their home in your carpet.
These little bugs are microscopic, close relatives of the spider, and live on human skin. Literally the stuff of nightmares.
They’re like mold, and love humid, warm environments, and their waste can be another top allergen.
The kicker? They’re almost impossible to eliminate completely. BUT you can keep their numbers down by keeping your carpets clean (this also extends the life of your carpets significantly. Read more here.).
There’s poop in your carpets.
Now that you’re sufficiently grossed out, we’ll add a caveat. There probably isn’t a LOT of poop in your carpets. But like cocaine on twenty dollar bills, every carpet has traces.
If you have a pet or a potty training toddler, you know how it got there.
But if you don’t have tiny poop machines, human or otherwise, how did it get there? Because rest assured, even if you are absolutely positive that nothing has ever defecated on your carpet, it’s still there. Waiting.
Think about where the majority of life on earth deposits its waste. Not in beautifully manufactured porcelain thrones. Nope, the majority of life in the world goes outside.
All that feces gets carried around by animals, rainwater, and wind, and suddenly almost every outdoor surface has traces.
You take a nice walk outside. Your shoes pick up those little traces and carry them right into your house.
You can help cut down on this by taking your shoes off before you head inside (seriously, you’re home. Why are you wearing your shoes in the house?) and by having your dirty carpet professionally cleaned at least every six months.
If you could collect all the skin lurking in your carpets over the course of a year, you could probably build your own person.
In a year, a single adult person sheds about 8 pounds (8 POUNDS) of dead skin. That is an entire newborn baby worth of dead skin.
Now let’s multiply that by average American household size of 2.58 people. That is 20.64 pounds of dead skin. Just on your carpet. Just sitting there.
Again, the solution here, other than just not having skin, is to vacuum often. Sucking all that junk out of your carpet isn’t a fun chore, but it definitely extends the average life of a carpet and keeps you and your family healthy long term.
Dirty Carpet – The Solution
If all these carpet facts have you stressed over your potentially dirty carpet, take a breath.
The world is full of grossness, and no matter how clean you get your carpet, you’ll never eliminate every microscopic piece of carpet flotsam.
But, you can keep your carpet clean and extend its life by keeping up with good carpet maintenance. Follow the following steps and you’ll have a sparkly clean, allergen-free carpet.
- Clean up spills immediately. Even if it’s just water, don’t let it sit on your carpets.
- Vacuum every day. We know. It’s the worst. But that once over with the vacuum will keep allergens, dust mites, and the like out of your house.
- Have your carpet professionally cleaned 2-4 times per year. Renting a machine to do it yourself will often leave a damp residue, so spend the cash to have a professional take care of it.
Using these steps, you can have a clean carpet and a happy home.
Want to know more about keeping your home healthy and clean? Check out our Home and Garden section!