Is Having a Carpet Bad For You?

For some time there has been debate about the best type of flooring for people who suffer from allergies or breathing problems. Many people believe that hard floors are better than carpeted ones but is this really true? Let’s explore the facts.

Dust Mites

People believe that carpets are bad because they trap allergens, dust and dirt but it is precisely because of this that they are actually better for us than hard flooring. When the carpet traps the pollutants in the air they are not breathed in, whereas on a hard floor, the pollutants have nowhere to go but back into the air we breathe. The trick is in keeping your carpets clean so that they can continue to act as an air filter. If they become clogged they are no better than a hard floor.

There was a study commissioned by a large carpet manufacturer that tested the theory. It’s important to recognise that the critical issue is the air we breathe not what’s on the floor. The study found that there was no significant difference in the amount of pollutants on a hard floor when compared with a carpeted one – the difference was in the air quality. As we move across a hard floor the contaminants become air borne and are easily breathed in. As we move across a carpeted floor the contaminants remain trapped in the fibres of the carpet and are not released into the air. If the carpet is dirty or worn however, the contaminants will become air borne again because they have nowhere else to go – which is why keeping your carpets clean is the absolute critical factor for people who may suffer from respiratory ailments.

The best type of carpet to act as an air filter is one that has a deep pile and is in good condition. It should be vacuumed at least once every week with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner and professionally cleaned at least once per year, twice if you have pets.

If you or someone you live with suffers from allergies or asthma:

  • consider using carpet or rugs to reduce the airborne pollutants;
  • keep carpets and rugs clean and well maintained to prevent them from becoming clogged;
  • avoid having pets indoors as they will add to the quantity of pollutants with pet dander – skin, urine proteins, saliva and fur;
  • regularly wet dust your home and vacuum immediately following the dusting;
  • have carpets and rugs professionally cleaned once a year;
  • if you do have hard floors make sure they are cleaned every day or at least every second day.

So the fact is that air quality is the issue and to maintain it, hard floors must be kept clean every day because they have no way of trapping allergens. Carpets on the other hand, can trap allergens in the carpet pile and keep the air quality sound – at least until the carpet becomes too dirty. To save yourself having to clean every single day, install carpets and/or rugs and then simply maintain them for better quality air.