The debate regarding air quality between using carpet and hard flooring has long been an issue. Many school districts and administrators believe that carpets negatively affect indoor air quality. On the hard flooring side, advocates suggest that debris gets trapped in the carpet fibers and underlay. Therefore, houses mold, dust mites, mildew, and fleas. They also suggest that regular vacuuming does not remove this and deep cleaning will only remove surface-level dirt, which contributes to the issue of poor air quality. On the carpeting side, advocates do believe that carpets can absorb contaminants like a sponge, but it take a lot of effort and activity to re-suspend particulates into the air.
In January of 2014, Airmid Healthgoup conducted an air quality study between carpets and hard floors. The test involved different chambers with different types of flooring: new carpet, used carpet, and hard-surface floor. The new carpet was contaminated with house dust mites and cat allergens. Each of the flooring received humidity and air changes per hour. They also received a type of disturbance, in which the intention was to make the settled particles airborne. The air was then sampled and these are their findings.
- The types of floor coverings do have a significant impact on airborne particulate concentrations.
- In general, these airborne concentrations “were lower with carpet as opposed to the hard surface floors”
- A 100% nylon, medium-pile broadloom carpet consistently performed best in trapping contaminants.
Additional findings from the research also suggest that the positive benefits of carpets are reduced when carpets are saturated with contaminants. To clean a carpet properly, regular vacuuming and hot water extraction is necessary. Vacuum with a high-performance vacuum and filter. This procedure removes surface particulates. If embedded soil needs to be removed, perform a hot-water extraction with solutions heating up to 212 degrees F. Hot water extraction effectively reduces allergen levels in carpet.
Which argument is correct in this debate? Actually, both sides are correct. Carpets do trap contaminants and foot traffic and disturbances can cause dust and other particles to become airborne. However, a properly maintained carpet does reduce airborne contaminants.
To read more about how to care for your carpet properly, check out the Proper Carpet Cleaning and Care blog. For a listing of Multi-Clean carpet cleaning products, check out the Carpet Care Product Line. For information on vacuums, check out the Minuteman Vacuum Line.