There’s nothing like coming home and feeling the warmth and cosiness of your bedroom or living room, only for you to start sneezing once you get settled in. When this happens, our diagnosis of the situation would most likely be that your warm, cosy carpets are getting pretty dusty and hence, need to be vacuumed. However, before you do so, you might want to ask yourself when you last had those carpets deep cleaned. If your answer to that is along the lines of “not in a very long time”, or “never”, now might be the best time to do it!
More often than not, you have a lot more than dust lurking between the tiny fibres of your fuzzy fabric floors which is why vacuuming just isn’t enough. Let’s talk about this more in detail.
These, of course, refer to the wide variety of tiny bugs and insects that end up calling your carpets home. As larger creatures (people and pets) above go about their days, they tend to shed what we call dander or dandruff – very small particles of dead skin that have fallen out on their own or attached to hairs, both of which we shed naturally. This dander just so happens to be a great food source for many tiny bugs like dust mites, ticks, and fleas. Because of their size, it’s unlikely that you will ever see them crawling about with the naked eye, but the thing that won’t go unnoticed is the marks left by these bugs. Therefore, removing carpet beetles is important in order to maintain the condition of your carpet.
Ticks and fleas which are usually tracked into the house by your pets after coming into contact with tall grass or other pets, will leave very itchy bites that can cause rashes in people with sensitive skin, or worse, skin infections. Dust mites, a staple of the ecosystem of tiny insects in just about every home, can cause similar allergic reactions on the skin, as well as causing eye and nose irritation from inhaling small particles of their moulted skin or faeces. Despite what their names imply, bed bugs, too, tend to find their way to carpets, latching on to exposed human skin whenever they get the chance. As we all know, they leave annoying, itchy bites that can also cause allergic reactions.
Going down to an even smaller scale, we will see an even more diverse ecosystem lurking within the fibres of your carpet. One of the most noticeable is fungi like mould or mildew, which start out as small growths, usually within the deeper layers of the carpet, and then eventually grow into larger colonies that reach up towards the surface of the carpet. They produce visible stains and (especially in the case of mildew) a noticeable and distinct odour. Much like other fungi, mould and mildew tend to release spores as a means of propagation; as such, inhaling these microscopic spores will cause irritation to the respiratory system, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, and other related symptoms.
Besides that, bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms tend to grow and thrive in old or improperly-maintained carpets. This is due to the fact that these carpets are often cold and damp – the perfect conditions for these microorganisms to spread like wildfire. Oftentimes, these bacteria and viruses are also pathogenic which means they will cause all sorts of diseases to people or pets.
So, what can I do about it?
The problem with these organisms in your carpet is that they cannot simply be cleaned with a vacuum alone. Most vacuum cleaners are only capable of removing light particles like dust, the droppings of dust mites and other insects, and maybe some mould spores. However, based on what we did and didn’t mention, vacuum cleaners are, for the most part, unable to remove the sources of these tiny particles. Other cleaners like disinfectants and specialised bug killers can help with germs and fleas, but most of the time, they will not be able to penetrate into the deeper layers of the carpet. Bed bugs, in particular, are especially difficult to kill, and there is not much else you can do on your own when they have successfully invaded your beds and upholstery besides calling in a professional cleaner.
So, is all hope lost for you? Of course not – although as we’ve mentioned in the case of bed bugs, you won’t be able to do much alone. To avoid having to deal with all of these potential ailments, you will want to have your carpets cleaned by professionals as opposed to doing it yourself. A professional carpet cleaner uses specialised steam cleaners (which is a bit of a misnomer since they use a mechanism called hot water extraction) that shoot water mixed with detergent at high pressures and high temperatures into your carpet, working the cleaning agents all the way into the deepest layers of your carpets. This helps to loosen dried-up dirt, germs, and bugs as the deep cleaning process continues. Once the mixture has done its job, it is then removed by a similarly-powerful suction, taking away the water and all of the dirt it has collected along with it. Because the water is removed with suction, your carpets are left with minimal moisture, making sure that it dries up faster, which also helps prevent the aforementioned organisms from moving back in!