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All posts in “How to remove VOCs from carpet”
allergy carpet cleaning
Steam carpet cleaning and allergy prevention

Steam Carpet Cleaning

Asthma and allergy Prevention allergy prevention carpet cleaning

Steam carpet cleaning is essential for interior carpet, especially if you have asthma or allegies. Carpet is a wonderful way to add warmth and comfort to your home, however when it comes to allergies and asthma, carpets are the enemy.  Or are they? If you ask  most people, they will say get rid of your carpets to get rid of your allergies.  Carpets are often referred to as dust collectors and therefore triggers for asthma suffers. However I believe this to be incorrect.  Provided you maintain your carpet, it is actually a good option for allergy sufferers.  A good Vacuum and regular steam carpet cleaning will ensure a healthy home.

Busting the myth about carpet and allergies

Many people claim that carpet is dirty and it aggravates allergies and other respiratory conditions, such as asthma. This is simply not true and there is no need to avoid carpet in your home.  According to the National Asthma Council of Australia, the biggest allergic triggers for asthma are house dust mites, pets, pollen and mould.  Avoiding exposure to these types of allergens will not cure asthma. However it may improve the condition and help with symptom management. The Asthma Council also acknowledges that efforts to reduce exposure to allergens may be time consuming, expensive and often impractical.

Once upon a time it was suggested that asthma and allergy suffers remove all carpet in their home. and hard floors are often recommended for reducing allergens in the home. However the National Asthma Council no longer recommends these extreme measures and in fact suggests that removing carpet has no effect on the level of dust mites present in a home. Instead they recommend a good cleaning routine such as vacuuming and steam carpet cleaning,  to remove dust mites and allergens.

You see, the beauty with carpet, is that it acts a giant filter.  It traps dirt, dust and other airbourne particles in the fibres and thereby helps with indoor air quality. Just think about it for a minute, hard floors naturally have dust particles lying around on the surface.  Every time you walk across the room, open a door, or window, the dust particles are stirred up by the change in air flow and redistributed into the air.  Carpet, however traps the dust in the fibres and prevents it from being redistributed.  Carpet also traps pet hair and stops it from becoming airbourne.

The Facts Pet Friendly Rug Cleaning Melbourne

A 2014 study into the impact of carpet on allergies, was designed and evaluated by Dr Bruce Mitchell, Airmid Healthgroup CEO who is also a practicing allergy and immunology specialist. This research looked at the air quality in a chamber with carpet exposed to allergens and then later the same chamber with hard flooring also exposed to allergens.  The researchers then looked at what effect steam carpet cleaning had on the air quality and carpet itself. Results showed that the levels of allergens in the air in the carpeted chamber were overall lower than those in the chamber with hard flooring.  The second phase of the study showed that after vacuuming and steam carpet cleaning, the allergens were even further reduced.

“Effectively cleaned carpets have the capacity to trap allergen and microbial particles, making these particles less available to become airborne and thus maintaining indoor air quality. This makes regularly cleaned carpet a choice for families impacted by asthma and allergies.”

Dr Bruce Mitchell

Carpet cleaning and maintenanceallergy friendly steam carpet cleaning

We recommend vacuuming carpet at least once a week, depending on the amount of foot traffic.  If you have pets then you may need to vacuum several times a week to remove allergens.  Vacuums should have a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter.  The unique design of HEPA filters  ensures that they trap even the tiniest dust particles and prevents redistribution into the air.  The National Asthma Council of Australia recommends anyone with asthma or allergies to use this type of vacuum in their homes. You should conduct steam carpet cleaning at least twice a year and more frequently for those with pets and children. For more information about ways to maintain your carpet after steam carpet cleaning, please read this blog post: Carpet Cleaning Maintenance.

Are all carpets equal?

Most carpet manufacturers produce carpet ranges, with anti microbial properties.  They are a good choice when it comes to reducing mould and other bacterial triggers. Natural fibres such as wool are naturally hypoallergenic.  However wool does absorb water and therefore can encourage mould growth.  This is why it is important to use a professional carpet cleaner, with experience in cleaning wool. Keep humidity to a minimum by using either dehumidifiers or air conditioners.

Man made fibres such as nylon are more resistant to moisture and do not need as much deep cleaning as natural fibres. Many carpet manufactures have a range of carpets  specifically designed for people with allergies.  You can find some more information here: National Asthma Council Australia’s Sensitive Choice® program

New carpet installation will release VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) into the air for several days.  You can find out more from my previous article on VOC’s here.  The other consideration when replacing carpet, is what to do with your old carpet.  Recycling options are discussed here Melbourne Carpet Recycling 

Finally the steam carpet cleaning service you choose should be one with experience and training in anti allergy cleaning.  At Black Gold Carpet Cleaning, we use carpet cleaning agents which are citrus based and bio degradable.   Our anti allergy and anti microbial treatments are completely natural.  We use the natural anti bacterial and anti fungal properties of essential oils to sanitise carpet after steam carpet cleaning.

Contact us for a free and friendly quote! Call 0403 254 080

 

 

carpet steam cleaning in Melbourne
How to deal with VOCs in carpet

Why you should be aware of VOCs in carpet and how to deal with them.

Ahhh… love the smell of VOCs in carpet in the morning – said no one ever!

VOCs in carpetWhat are VOCs in Carpet? If you have ever bought a brand new, off the factory floor, never been owned before, car; then you will be familiar with that “new car smell”.  Many people love this smell, there are even car deodourisers called “new car smell”!  The same however, cannot be said for that “new carpet smell”.  If you have ever had carpets installed in your home or office then you have probably experienced the “toxic” fumes otherwise known as VOCs  that can be hazardous to your health. What causes the fumes and how can you minimise the impact on the health of you and your family? How do you deal with VOCs in carpet?

 

What are VOCs and why are they in my new carpet?

VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds (chemical contaminants made up mainly of carbon and hydrogen) and are found in almost all manufactured products, including soft furnishings, cosmetics, clothing, plastic bottles, paint and other building materials, cars and clothing, just to name a few.  At room temperature, these VOCs are released into the environment in the form of gas which evaporates into the air – this process is sometimes called off-gassing. In the case of synthetic carpets, most but not all of these VOCs are destroyed in the manufacturing process, as the carpet is “baked” at 150-170c in a finishing oven. Carpet is, therefore, the lowest emitter of VOCs of most common flooring options. When you install new carpet in your home however, there will still be some low level VOC emissions for a few days, especially when you add in the VOCs from the underlay and adhesives used in the installation process.

Are VOCs in carpet dangerous?

While there is no conclusive evidence that exposure to VOCs causes long term health issues, there is plenty of evidence pointing towards, short term effects experienced by people exposed to high levels of VOCs.  These short term effects include, head aches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, skin and throat irritations and so on.  These effects vary depending on the type of chemicals, the concentration level of the VOCs and how long the person is exposed to them. A person’s age, gender, general health condition and exposure to other chemicals can all play a role determining the effects VOCs have on their health.  People who experience asthma or other respiratory conditions or are particular sensitive to chemicals, should try to avoid exposure to VOCs.

Studies involving mice, have shown that long term exposure to high levels of VOCs can increase the risk of cancer, liver and kidney disease in animals and is thought to also affect humans in the same way.  However there is not a lot of information on the long term health effects of low level household exposure from VOCs in carpet.

Scientists at organisations such as the EPA are still researching what are the specific chemicals released by carpets and whether or not they are dangerous for the average person.  Generally the VOCs in carpets are low level and any short term effects go away once the person stops being exposed to the VOCs.  However, until more is known about the impact on our health, the EPA recommends exposure to VOCs is kept at a minimum.

VOCs in Carpet AustraliaHas the Australian Government set standards for VOCs in carpets?

There are no specific regulations set for VOCs in carpets or even general indoor air quality by the Australian Government, except for regulations on some specific substances in the workplace. There is no single Australian Government authority to oversee indoor air quality in Australia as it would be difficult to regulate and enforce set standards in private homes. Individual state authorities and organisations, however are able to offer recommendations and guidelines based on information and research into air pollutants and their impact on our health. The Australian Carpet Institute is one such organisation, setting standards for carpet chemical emissions and carpet labeling.  The Green Building Council of Australia is another organisation who sets standards and rating systems for low VOC emissions in building materials.

How can I minimise the health risks of VOCs in carpet? Vocs in carpet green cleaning

To minimise the risks from VOCs in carpet, it is important to ensure good ventilation when using or installing products and materials which emit VOCs.  Ventilation means bringing in air from outside to mix with the indoor air and can be as simple as opening lots of windows.

  • New carpet can emit VOCs in low levels, for several days after being installed, so it is worth asking your carpet supplier or installer if the carpet can be left unrolled for a few days at their warehouse before installation. This will allow some of the VOCs time to disappate before bringing the carpet into your home.
  • It is also important to run your ventilation system for at least 72 hours after carpet installation.
  • Where possible, open the windows and position fans next to the windows to blow in the fresh air.
  • Close the doors to the areas with new carpet and try to stay out of those rooms for a few days.
  • It could even be a good time to take a short holiday!

The Australian Carpet Institute, has developed a standard for carpet with low VOC emissions, called the Green Label Plus.  These “green” carpets have lower VOC emissions than other synthetic carpets and are definitely worth considering.  However you should make sure the underlay and adhesive used by the carpet installer are also “green” and have low VOC emissions, as often the glue can emit more VOCs than the carpet!  Natural fibres such as wool and cotton with backing made from Jute or other grassy fibres are usually much longer lasting, and  lower in VOCs than carpets made from synthetic fibres such as nylon or olefin which are usually backed with potentially harmful PVC plastic.

How do I maintain my new carpet and keep it VOC free?

Once you have installed your new carpet and aired out the rooms so there are no more VOC emissions, you need to ensure you vacuum your carpet regularly with a vacuum cleaner that has a filter and good, strong suction.  Carpet is a great filter itself, as it traps VOCs, from other sources, as well as dirt and dust.  However things like, poorly filtered vacuum cleaners or the kids playing on the carpet, cause agitation and the VOCs and dust can become air born again.  It is important, therefore, to remove them with regular, well filtered, vacuum cleaning.  The Australian Carpet Institute of also recommends hot water extraction using low emission VOC cleaning agents as the best method of cleaning carpets.  Hot water extraction (often referred to as steam cleaning) uses heat and water to wash the carpet fibres and strong suction (extraction)  the remove the VOCs and dirt.VOCs in carpet after carpet cleaning Melbourne

For more information on cleaning and maintaining your new carpet, please contact Black Gold Carpet Cleaning on 0403 254 080