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Is Your Carpet an Effective Air Filter?

Carpets play a vital role in indoor air quality (IAQ). Unlike hard surface floors that do not prevent dust and other allergens from being stirred back up into the air, carpet traps contaminants safely within its fibers.

Facility maintenance personnel and homeowners alike are diligent about changing HVAC air filters to improve indoor air quality by reducing air pollutants. However, many people overlook the largest air filter in a building: the carpet.


As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, “carpet acts as a reservoir for dust, dirt, pollen, mold spores, pesticides and other material,” and a study conducted by the University of South Carolina for the Carpet and Rug Institute confirms that carpeted floors produce significantly lower “biological contributions” to the workplace environment.


Like any filter, though, carpets must be cleaned regularly to work properly. Otherwise, they themselves become a source of contamination. In fact, OSHA lists carpets 17 times in their publication Indoor Air Quality in Commercial and Institutional Buildings, including naming carpets specifically under Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants and listing How often are carpet and drapes shampooed? as a consideration when investigating IAQ.


Carpet is an excellent choice of flooring, with many advantages. Besides its function as an air filter, carpet reduces noise pollution and decreases the likelihood of slips and falls. To ensure the practical and aesthetic functions of this versatile floor covering, it is imperative that carpeting is properly and routinely maintained. Along with regular vacuuming and spot cleaning, it is important to have the carpets professionally cleaned at least annually.


The EPA stresses, “it cannot be over-emphasized that proper cleaning and maintenance is a critical component of any flooring system” in its guidance on Controlling Pollutants and Sources. Not only will professional cleaning maintain the appearance of carpeted floors; there are several other benefits to having carpets deep cleaned.


Improved Hygiene

Carpet is notorious for becoming a home to allergens, dust particles, mold, and bacteria. As explained by the American Lung Association, airborne particles can cause or increase breathing problems such as asthma or allergies for anyone susceptible to respiratory problems in the facility.

According to a review in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are several adverse health outcomes associated with pollutants buried inside carpets:

  • Irritated skin

  • Frequent headaches

  • Persistent cough or sore throat

  • Fatigue

  • Red, irritated eyes

  • Irritation of the nose and throat

  • Allergies

  • Respiratory problems/asthma

Vacuuming can help to remove dust mites, dirt, bacteria, and other pathogens. However, vacuuming cannot completely remove all particles and over time these accumulate, increasing the risk of health problems. Chemicals used around the facility can also nestle deep into carpet fibers, which can release harmful substances into the air and degrade overall indoor air quality. If carpets are not deep cleaned properly and regularly, normal use such as vacuuming carpets and walking across their surface will release the accumulated pollutants. Professional carpet cleaning is the best route to take in removing dust mites, bacteria, and other allergens, which ultimately helps everyone breathe more easily and reduces the risk of colds and other health issues.


Improved Airflow

As strange as it may sound, dirty carpeting can impede the airflow within your business. Carpeting can become clogged with dust, dirt, and debris, especially in areas along the walls where the air in your establishment needs to be able to move the most. The rooms in your facility are more likely to become unpleasant and stuffy when the carpet is clogged with dirt and dust. Regular vacuuming simply cannot remove all debris, which is why deep cleaning and extraction should be part of the maintenance routine.


Protection from Bugs & Mites

Carpets bear lot of foot traffic, which tracks in dirt and can create the perfect breeding ground for insects, mold, and bacteria. These can harm the carpet and damage the fibers. Carpet mites, also known as dust mites, are microscopic bugs that get into the air, where they can be inhaled. Regular cleaning will not remove them completely.

Improved Look and Feel

Professional carpet cleaning helps improve the overall look and feel of the workspace. As dirt and dust build up in carpeting, the fibers become matted and discolored, making the carpet feel rough and flat and look old and worn. Untreated stains diminish the carpet’s appearance. Therefore, it is important to clean the carpets to remove all the stains and other soil “stuck” in the carpet fibers. Daily maintenance and regular professional cleanings help to ensure that the carpet, and the overall workplace is fresh, clean, and healthy.

Extend Carpet Life & Save Money

Installing carpet is a large investment, and it is important to protect that investment with proper care. Commercial carpets need frequent cleaning due to two factors. Office carpets bear heavy foot traffic and deal with added wear and tear from office furniture and equipment. The efficiency level and lifespan of your carpet decreases greatly if it is not properly maintained.