The popular trend on home-decorating shows is to rip out the “old, ugly, outdated” carpet and to refinish the “modern, clean” hardwood floors beneath — to tear out the nasty carpet and replace it with pristine wood. Wall-to-wall carpeting is no longer a selling point on a house; instead, sellers will install, and buyers will look for, wood or tile floors.
For other homeowners, however, it isn’t the aesthetic that drives you to replace your carpet; instead, you are more concerned about your home’s indoor air quality, particularly if you or your children have allergies or other sensitivities. Because carpet retains allergens, the common reasoning goes, removing the carpet removes the problems. But studies show that it is this very property of carpet — that it traps particulates from the air — that actually makes it a sound investment when you are concerned about indoor air quality.
Dirt, dust, dust mites, dead skin cells, animal hair/dander, mold spores, pollen, and other allergens that fall to the carpet are trapped by the fibers and are not easily dislodged when a person walks over the surface or when a child plays in the area. Carpet will remove these particles from the air and retain them until they are removed through cleaning.
In this way, carpet acts much like the air filter in your air conditioning system. As air passes through, the filter keeps the various particles from circulating back through the house. Just as the filters in your HVAC system must be changed regularly in order to maximize their function, your carpet should also be professionally cleaned on a regular basis to keep it looking and performing at its best.
On the other hand, hard surfaces such as wood and tile have nothing with which to trap dirt and dust. Instead, these particles sit on the surface of the floor and can become airborne when a person walks across the surface or when a children are playing. The particles that are stirred up from continuous movement in an area will typically float up to about 1-3 feet above the surface, the approximate height of a toddler or a child.
To maximize its longevity, beauty, and function, your carpet should be cleaned regularly. The three steps to maintaining your carpet properly are:
1. Vacuum the carpet regularly, even if it doesn’t “look” dirty.
2. Clean up all spills and stains immediately.
3. Periodically schedule a Professional deep-cleaning of the carpet.
Vacuuming should be done at least once a week, and twice a week or even daily if the area is highly trafficked or if indoor air quality is a major concern. (See Consumer Reports’ “10 tips on how to vacuum” for advice on getting your carpet clean.) While that may sound like a lot of cleaning, note that most hardwood floor cleaning recommendations are to sweep daily and even vacuum once or twice a week. In carpeted areas that may require more frequent cleaning, such as entryways and hallways, an area rug or runner can help to absorb additional material that may be tracked through.
Cleaning spills and stains immediately and with the proper reagents will ensure that the carpet retains its original look for many years. Also, removing excess liquids from the carpet will keep mold and mildew from forming. Though spills and stains can be easily removed from the surface of the carpet, a professional cleaning can remove any sticky or messy residue left behind which could attract dirt to that area quicker.
Professional cleaning can be done every 6-24 months, depending on how often the area is used. Professional cleaning helps to maintain the longevity and appearance of carpet by cleaning deeper than vacuuming can go. In addition, professional cleaning is highly recommended for Oriental, Turkish, Persian, heirloom, or any other specialty rugs. Just like vacuuming, professional cleaning should be thought of as a preventative measure to maintain a carpet’s current condition, rather than a last resort to restore a carpet. Regular professional cleaning will help carpet last longer, look better, and function more effectively.
Carpet can be not only a visual enhancement to your home, but it can also help to improve the air quality within a home. Like any other investment, carpet should be regularly maintained and professionally cleaned to keep it in the best condition possible.