Ever heard the expression: “A man’s home is his castle”? Although it’s a pretty outdated idiom, the context still applies. Your home is your private space - your sanctuary, your safe haven and where you should feel at your most protected from the ill wills of the outside world.
We love to brighten up our homes and personal spaces with cosy soft furnishings such as carpets and rugs. Rugs in particular add lots of style, define spaces and bring comfort and warmth into a room.
But what if your home is making you sick?
Rugs are one of the biggest sources of indoor and outdoor allergens, although they may not be visible - particularly on high-pile floor coverings or if your rugs are deep in colour. Allergens including animal dander, pollen and microscopic creatures that like dark, warm places such as dust mites can become trapped within the fibres. The soiling of rugs can result in the buildup of several unhealthy contaminants which can affect you, your family and even your pets.
Allergens found within the home are said to be responsible for a whole host of chronic allergic conditions such as asthma and perennial allergic rhinitis. Fortunately, there is good news: there are simple measures you can take to rid rugs of nasties.
To help you out, here are some handy tips so you and your family can relax, breathe easy and feel safe and well in your home.
1. Vacuum regularly
It seems elementary, but vacuuming regularly is an important step as it aids in removing loose dirt from the rug, making the cleaning process easier in the long-run. Remember, pollen can live in rugs and carpets for up to 3 months, so in the hayfever season vacuuming regularly is a must. Depending on how hardy your rug is, consider purchasing a vacuum with rotating brushes as these will help give you a much better clean. They dig deep into the rug pile and the rotation motion loosens any trapped dirt. The suction then pulls it into the machine. Using suction only will extract dirt, but it’s not as effective as when brushes aggravate the pile.
For an effective clean, flip your rug upside down to vacuum the back, as allergens may fall to the bottom. If you aren’t sure of whether the product will damage the rug, do a patch test on the corner of the rug where any effects won’t create noticeable damage.
Top tip: When vacuuming, it is important to use a vacuum cleaner that has high HEPA filtration and does not allow any of the allergen to escape from the exhaust and back into your home environment.
2. Dust your rugs
Some vacuums may not pick up or remove whatever is lurking in your rug, so dusting is also an important step in the cleaning process. To give the rugs a thorough dusting, flip them over and beat with a rug beater.
If the rug is small enough, take it outside or in your backyard and hang it over your clothesline. Shake it, then beat it to remove other allergens dirt and grime.
Top tip: Use a stiff brush or rug beater, using motions in the direction of the nap of the rug.
Although regular vacuuming and rug beating can remove some of the dust close to the surface, these processes aren’t powerful enough to remove dirt that is deeply imbedded. A professional rug cleaner will use a rug dusting machine which will remove loose dirt, dust and other debris from the rug. This results in a more thorough dusting, which is essential when trying to rid the home of health-impacting allergens.
3. Hire a professional rug dusting and cleaning expert
According to Tony Kantzavelos a rug cleaning expert at Love Your Rug Cleaning Toronto, the best way to completely rid rugs of allergens is to have them professionally dusted and then cleaned. One of the most important reasons for getting your rug professionally dusted by a specialist rug cleaning company is that thorough dusting will take place, using specialty rug dusting machines that remove 99% of allergens and dirt, providing superior results for those with allergies. If you clean your rug yourself, any trapped moisture can also lead to mould build up, so it is worth using a professional service that offers complete allergen removal and cleaning.
The rug cleaning process is a long one, and the time spent on one rug can be hours or even days if necessary. If there are stains, a professional cleaning company can test the rug to find out exactly what caused them and which chemicals will remove them. The carpet will be washed, groomed and hung up to dry: it is a very thorough process that guarantees your rug will look fantastic and the colours bright again when it is returned to you.
Hiring a professional for a deep clean is also favoured over the DIY option if you have a rug that is made from a delicate fabric or material and therefore requiring specialist care, but a professional rug clean can also save you time and money in the long-run.
Top tip: Before handing the rug over, inspect the rug, make note of any issues and instruct the cleaners accordingly: this way you will ensure to get the result you want out of the service.
4. Keep a dry house
Mould and mildew thrive in damp, poorly ventilated environments, so repair leaking roofs and pipes promptly. Avoid putting carpet on concrete floors, and keep clothing and papers away from damp areas. You can use dehumidifiers in areas that tend to accumulate moisture (like the basement), but be sure to empty them regularly and keep them clean, or they will become another source of mould and mildew.
You can also guard your home from allergens tracked in from outside using a tracking mat - a mat made from rubber as opposed to a fibrous welcome mat. Studies have shown that many of the particles that are brought into the house are on your shoes so a tracking mat may inhibit some allergens from entering your home.
Top tip: To prevent mould spores, avoid excessive water if you attempt to clean rugs yourself.
How often should I undertake rug cleaning?
Rug cleaning should be added to your weekly cleaning schedule if possible, especially for rugs that get a lot of use, and for homes with pets. Vacuuming should be done on a weekly basis, although rugs that see very little use could be done every two weeks. Spot-cleaning should ideally be undertaken as soon as the stain occurs. Stains are always easier to clean up when they are fresh, rather than when they’ve had time to dry and cake into fibres. You should also consider a thorough clean and rotation of your rugs every 6 months to a year to keep your rugs clear of dirt and allergens.
Whilst it may be impossible to completely allergy-proof your home, your soft furnishings - in particular your rugs - are great place to start. If you follow these tips, you’ll find the air around within the home becomes a lot clearer and you’ll successfully keep those uninvited allergens at bay!