Carpet is comfy and warm on your feet, but it’s nearly impossible to really clean. And, it’s a perfect home to microorganisms such as mold, mildew and dust mites, in addition to being a reservoir for everything you track indoors on your shoes like lawn chemicals, lead dust, and animal feces. For a child’s developing body and lungs, this can be especially detrimental.
Still, no one expects you to rip out your carpet and start anew. Some people have no choice in the matter. That’s okay and totally understandable. Just do what you can!
Follow these easy steps to reduce risks associated with carpeting:
1. Vacuum often. For your initial “decontamination” effort, experts recommend vacuuming three times a day for the first month. That may be a bit much for most people’s schedules, just try to do it fairly obsessively for a month. After that, a couple times a week should suffice. Frequent vacuuming helps reduce the level of dust mites, which trigger asthma and allergy attacks. It also means getting rid of surface dirt on carpets before it has a chance to get ground in. A vacuum cleaner with strong suction, rotating brushes and a HEPA filter (so the dirt and dust won’t get blown back out in the exhaust) is best. Go back and forth over the same spot several times – especially in high traffic areas – to get all of the dirt and dust!
2. Don’t let your kids eat or drink in carpeted areas. Kids and spills go hand in hand – and spills on carpeting can quickly lead to mold or bug problems (especially since kids aren’t quick to clean up or fess up to the mess). If you make an exception to the rule, be sure to check in and clean up any spills immediately.
3. Ventilate. Open windows regularly and use a fan to gently circulate the air. Any airborne contaminants will be flushed out of the room letting your child breathe easier. Consider Energy Star fans to save on energy bills and reduce pollution associated with electricity generation.
If you ever decide to tear out the carpet, keep the room closed off from the rest of the house. Everything that’s built up in the depths of the fibers will be released during the process. And, since textiles help hold dust in place (instead of constantly drifting through the air and potentially irritating lungs) opt for a hard surface floor with a washable area rug. Then you’ll get the benefits of carpeting without the drawbacks.