Carpets and rugs keep your home warm and cozy…but they can harbor dust, dust mites, fungal spores, pet dander and other allergens.

Whether old or new, carpets and rugs can be a source of air pollutants, which affect indoor air quality negatively. Does that mean you need to rip them up and remodel with tile or wood? Thankfully, no.

New Carpets

There aren’t too many carpets that are made from natural products. Most carpets are made from chemicals, which is why they have that “new carpet smell.” The padding and glue used to lay carpets contain harsh chemicals, and when these chemicals are released into the air they can cause coughs, shortness of breath, headaches and skin rashes.

Thankfully, there are lower emission carpets, padding and adhesives for people who are sensitive to the smell of new carpet. Other things you can that help with lowering emissions and fumes include: airing out the carpet before installation, keeping windows and doors open and the air conditioning running for at least 72 hours after installation, and vacuuming more often; all of these things will get rid of chemical odors much faster.

Old Carpets

Old carpets and rugs have their own challenges. They can be packed with dust, mold and mildew, which are triggers for allergies and asthma. In fact, the National Center for Healthy Housing cautions against wall to wall carpeting for people with severe allergies and asthma.

Old carpets are especially harmful to babies and toddlers who spend a good portion of their lives with their faces near the ground! They can inhale up to 20 times more dust and other allergens than walking adults.

Should You Replace Your Old Carpet?

It depends on the condition of the carpet. If you’re still using the shag carpet that came with your house, consider upgrading.

Carpets are supposed to last about 10 years with proper care. After ten years, the carpet is faded, matted, wrinkled, uneven and lacks proper padding for support.

A lingering smell that doesn’t go away after proper cleaning is a sign that it’s probably time to replace your carpet. Stinky carpets are not only embarrassing but can be a warning sign that mold or mildew might be growing in the padding or subfloor. Sometimes it’s easier to replace the carpet than to try and find the source of the odor.

Stains can also be a sign that the carpet needs to be replaced. Most carpets have a stain resistant finish, so if your carpet is starting to look like a minefield, chances are that the stains have absorbed into the padding, resulting in the growth of mold or mildew.

If your carpet isn’t too stained, stinky, or more than ten years old, you don’t have to remove it as long as you clean it properly.

Vacuum at least once a week with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter that controls allergen levels, and remember to schedule your carpet to be professionally cleaned with non-toxic cleaning products at least once a year.

Do this, and you’ll be able to lose yourself in your soft, cozy carpet for years to come.

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