Carpets: Host for diseases

Carpets Host for diseases

All that glitters isn’t gold!

This holds for our carpets. Because your carpet might stain-free but do you know beneath those finest imbrications of your stain-free carpet there might be millions of organisms abiding. It’s true, though one might think “I have taken good care of my carpet protected it from all sorts of stains. It’s clean.” But if one looks into some facts they might be astonished.

Carpets- the toilet seat of the living room. 

What is the one place you can think of inside your home that hosts most germs? Without any doubt, TOILET SEAT comes to everyone’s mind. But do you know that your carpets have more germs than that of a toilet seat? To be exact 4000 times more than that of a typical toilet seat. Unbelievable right. A study conducted by Dr.Philip Tierno Jr., a microbiologist, and immunologist at New York University Langone Medical Centre, claims that there are approximately 200,000 bacteria per square inch on any regular stain-free carpet. But you can just imagine how the numbers might shoot up into the sky in case of a dirty carpet.

How do Carpets get germs?

  • Most people come inside the house by putting on their shoes. This is the most common way for many germs and bacteria to enter into your homes. Walking with those dirty shoes on the carpets leaves a layer of dirt and undoubtedly thousands of microbial colonies on your precious carpets
  • Your household pets can also be a gateway for microbes. After a stroll in parks pets come and roll over the floor carpets. With a myriad of hairs and fur, they shed they also leave many organisms including lice and micro-organisms including viruses and bacteria.
  • If there is any old furniture lying around your house there might a chance that they are infested by mites and these might crawl into the fibers of your carpets and feed on them. These besides damaging the fibers of your carpet they also act as a carrier for many germs.
  • Besides, mites other pests also act as a carrier for microbes such as houseflies, mice, rats, cockroaches, etc. Though it seems that only a small number of micro-organisms might be transferred through these creatures but you know that it doesn’t take much time for a small number of bacteria or viruses to grow and propagate into huge quantities, sometimes it might take only a few hours.
  • Do you know that on average a person sheds about 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells per hour? And this makes almost up to 4 Kgs of dead skin cells per year and the microbes feed on these cells and grow in tremendous an amount
  • Dust can be a cocktail of germs. And dust is inevitable in every home. So, each time some air flows into your abode you can expect the dust flows in along with some pollen and other debris, the potential source for microbes. And carpets act as a filter or a trap for these particles. Besides this, it is also said that the quality of air indoors is quite less when compared to that of outdoors which might act as one more factor.

How to identify germs?

If anyone in your family is falling sick frequently and if you are worried that your carpet might be a party dish in the Microbiological lab, here are some tips for identifying.

  • Check whether your carpet is weighing heavier than that of usually, usually with germs and dust particles your carpets weigh approximately 4 times heavier
  • Mold infestations can also act as a checkpoint because molds can never be found alone so check for mold infestation, this could be observed easily with the naked eye. Some of them even are known to produce a foul odor
  • Any discoloration of carpets can also be counted as a sign of infestation by microbes. Because some of the bacteria especially of genus Bacillus and fungi of genus Aspergillus and occasionally Penicillium are known to cause discoloration of fabrics. This discoloration might be in the form of black spots or smudges on the carpet

What kind of germs is likely to be found?

  • Fungi:

The most common types of fungi that are likely present in your carpets are Aspergillus which in lungs can cause three diseases – allergic sinusitis, a fungal ball or invasive aspergillosis, Rhizopus which causes Mucormycosis, Alternaria species are known to be associated with the development of cases of asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis, Geotrichum which is known to cause endobronchial infection, and Cladosporium can cause allergies and asthma in some people.

  • Bacteria:

Both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria are found in your carpets. Some of the most common include Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) known to cause worst forms of infections, Campylobacter: one of the four key global causes of diarrhoeal diseases, Micrococcus which has been associated with infections, and Enterococci a normal gut bacterium some of the species of this genus are known to cause serious infections such as UTIs

  • Viruses:

Norovirus, also known as the stomach flu virus is a known inhabitant of carpets. These viruses are known to cause diarrhoeal like symptoms as the name suggests. Though these are generally known to infect those with compromised immunity such as infants and old aged people

How to get rid of these germs?

With those implications of having dirty carpets, one can realize how important it is to have a microbe-free carpet. Regular vacuuming keeps the carpet free from dust but it is not enough to have germ-free carpets. There are other techniques which are used by the professional carpet cleaning services, such as:

  • Vacuuming:

Normal vacuum cleaners used at homes simply recirculate the dust sucked,  back into the air of your homes. So, professional cleaners use HEPA filters. HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters trap the tiniest particle possible and store it in the dirtbag. Some of the vacuum cleaners used for household purposes claim to have HEPA filters but it has to noted that most of them are HEPA like filters. The difference is that true or absolute HEPA filters trap  99.7% particles of size 0.3 microns but whereas HEPA-like filters can capture only 80-90%. Most professional carpet cleaning services use HEPA filters.

  • Deep-cleaning:

It is a step further that of vacuuming. It is a combination of different methods and is usually done in several visits.

  • Steam-cleaning:

It has been proved as an effective anti-microbial treatment for carpets. After pre-treatment, the carpets are subjected to steam with temperatures up to 170oC.

  • Anti-microbial solutions:

There are currently many cleaning solutions in the market that show disinfectant or anti-microbial properties. They clean and sanitizes the carpets simultaneously

  • Green options:

If you don’t want to get exposed to the harmful effects of chemicals in regular cleaning solutions you can opt for green solutions that have plant-based disinfectants such as citronella, lemongrass, etc.

Most of the carpets today are produced from synthetic materials, which act as food for microbes. So, along with regular cleaning, some care has to be taken to keep the carpets microbe-free, such as not using dirty shoes on the carpet, keeping pets sanitized, etc

A clean carpet means a healthy home.


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