Carpets in homes and office spaces get a lot of wear and tear, especially in high foot traffic areas. They can be spoiled with discoloration, stains, traffic lanes, and dirt, and you may find yourself in a situation where you need to replace them. Carpets that are poorly maintained end up in a really bad shape. This would also void the manufacturer warranty. The good news is that carpets that are well maintained will retain that new smell, feel, and look for longer.

Keeping your carpets clean is important for a number of reasons, and the three things to pay attention to are trapped pollutants, mold growth, and staining.

  • Trapped Pollutants

Dirty carpets are known to retain pollutants such as dust, dander, particles, and cockroach allergens. Cockroach saliva, body parts, and droppings, in particular, can trigger asthma symptoms and cause allergic reactions. Studies show that cockroaches are found in 58 percent of residential homes. And if you happen to see them during the day, the situation is really out of control.

Dust mites also get trapped in the fabric of carpets. They are responsible for asthma attacks and allergic reactions caused by inflammation of the nasal passages. If you have symptoms such as facial pain, postnasal drip, itchy nose, and watery or red eyes, then dust mites in carpeting could be a problem.

Homes in areas with a humid climate have more dust mites, especially when there is a source of food. Mites prefer temperatures of 24°C – 27°C and humidity of 70 – 80 percent. Carpeting provides a habitat with the accumulation of moisture and food, especially loose, long pile carpets. Dust mites also feed on skin flakes that get trapped in fibers.

Pets can also cause allergic reactions because of hair, saliva, urine, and dead skin flakes. Warm-blooded animals such as rodents, birds, cats, and dogs can sensitize household members with allergies.

Conventional vacuums are not effective in removing cockroach shells, dust mites, and pet dead skin flakes. Vacuuming results in a considerable increase in airborne particles unless you use multilayer microfiltration bags.  You can also use a HEPA vacuum for a good clean. They are shown to remove allergens with over 99.9 percent efficiency. HEPA vacuums also remove fine particles such as pet dander and pollen. When it comes to pets, it is best to reduce exposure in sleeping areas. You should keep pets away from stuffed toys, carpeted areas, and upholstered furniture and keep them outside whenever possible.

  • Mold

Mold is a common allergen that can cause symptoms such as chest tightness, watery eyes, skin rash, and runny nose.  People with chronic respiratory disease and immune suppression are at a higher risk of fungal infections. Unfortunately, mold is a common problem, especially in homes with moisture due to leaks from pipes, windows, and roofs. Common causes also include:

  • Rain leaks on wall joints and roofs

  • Stagnant water in condensing coils, refrigerator drip pans, dishwashers, and dehumidifiers

  • Plumbing and basement leaks

  • Clogged footing drains and rain gutters

  • Poorly designed rain gutters

  • Groundwater leaks

Mold grows well on wood products, ceiling tiles, cardboard, and paper products. Mold also grows on drywall, insulation, paints, upholstery, and carpets provided that there is a food source and moisture. As spores are found in the air, when they land on a damp or wet carpet, mold begins to grow. Carpets at risk of infestation are those in damp or moist climates and below ground level such as in basements.

To remove mold growth from carpets, it is best to use a dry form of cleaning or an anti-mold product. Make sure it is safe for carpets because products for bathrooms or kitchens may cause discoloration or damage to the fabric. There is a range of choices available online and in hardware and supply stores. You may also consider removing carpets in basements and bathrooms that have a lot of moisture. For carpeting with a limited growth, you can either try to clean the ruined section or remove and replace it. You just have to find a matching piece. If you spot mold growth on more than one area, however, the only option you are left with is buying a new carpet.

In addition to cleaning, you want to control growth. To keep mold out of your house, you need to ventilate the kitchen, laundry, and shower areas. Contact a repairman if you notice leaky pipes, windows, or roofs.

Try to keep humidity levels at around 30 – 50 percent. You can also use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to keep the level low, especially during humid months.

  • Carpet Stains

Carpet stains are not only hard to remove but can make even the most beautiful room look unappealing and ugly. They can change the feel and look of your home if they become permanent. Thera are ways to get rid of unsightly stains without ruining your carpet. However, you need to first identify the type of stain that you are looking to remove. The list of possible sources includes:

  • Gum and wax
  • Jelly
  • Cooking grease
  • Lipstick
  • Meat juices
  • Dairy
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Coffee
  • Latex paint

To begin with, there is a difference between stain and spot. Stains are on the inside of fibers and have a texture while spots are on the outside and don’t. Essentially, this means that it is much easier to remove spots. To treat stains, consider factors such as location, smell, and appearance. When examining the stain, analyze the location or room type. Common areas, dining rooms, and kitchens, for example, are more prone to food stains. If a stain is near any entrance or entryway, it could be animal feces, grease, sand, or dirt.

You should also consider the appearance and color of carpet stains. If it is dull looking, sticky, and brownish, then the stain is most likely organic. Shiny appearance means that the stain or spot is manmade or synthetic. Also, stains that can be easily identified by color include milk (white), dark (coffee or soda), and yellow (mustard). Yellow stains may be from mold where food or water were spilled and from pet urine. Red is often left by items made from iron that were in contact with a wet carpet. Red can also be from mold or yeast in places where water was spilled. Green also signals mold growth in wet areas and where food spills are often. Black stains can be from mold, foot traffic, scented candles, fireplaces, and soot. Finally, black stains may be from cleaners or bleaching agents that cause discoloration.

Next, you should focus on the size and pattern so that you can identify the type of stain. If you notice a small spot, it is most likely dripped or splashed material. Big stains are usually caused by spills while dribbles or streaks may be from splashed drink or food. Stains that cover a large area are often the result of hidden mold infestation or damages. Check the ceiling cavities, walls, and floor for structural damages, especially if you suspect a plumbing leak.

Finally, smell is one of the best and easiest ways to identify the source. If it is a fresh stain, it will produce odor. If it is an old one, however, you need to apply water without soaking it. This will help to restore the odor at least in part.

Once you have identified the stain, you can choose the right product to remove it. Use a water-based agent for water-soluble stains such as jelly, soda, washable ink, latex paint, and mud. You will need a protein digester for protein-based stains like mustard, coffee, chocolate, and bodily fluids. Petroleum-based or oil stains can be treated with a dry solvent spotter. Such stains are, for example, salad dressing, canola oil, petroleum jelly, grease, and crayons. For synthetic stains caused by coal tar products, you will need a reducing agent. There are also non-soluble stains such as wax, gum, and sand. If it is sand, you need to first vacuum the spot to remove loose particles and then try to treat it with a solvent. For gum, you have to freeze the area before you attempt to eliminate the stain. Other non-soluble sources include grit, wax, and metal shavings.

Summing up

Trapped pollutants and mold growth are known to cause health problems such as asthma and allergic reactions. They also cause discoloration and damage to carpeting. Carpet stains are not only unsightly but can become a permanent fixture when left untreated. Fortunately, there is a ton of cleaning solutions and tools to get rid of allergens, dirt, and ugly stains. You can use а HEPA vacuum cleaner, anti-mold products, and a variety of solvents to treat stains. Using the right products to clean carpets will not only extend their useful life but will improve indoor air quality and help you to maintain a healthy living environment for your whole family.