Chemical Treatment of Carpets to Reduce Allergens


Dirty carpets can harbour various substances that may negatively impact the health of you or your family.  In addition to dust, dirty carpets can contain dust mites, mould, mildew and fungi — all known allergens.  These allergens are known to trigger allergies and can trigger certain health conditions like asthma.

To avoid putting your health at risk, it is important to clean your carpets thoroughly.  But what is the best approach for cleaning your carpets and removing allergens?  This article will take a look at the risk posed by allergens and how to effectively remove them from your carpet with chemical treatment.

What is an Allergen?

molddust mite

Allergens are substances which can trigger a vigorous immune system response.  The immune system reacts in a violent way because it perceives the substance to be a serious threat — even though it is not. 

This intense immune system reaction often presents itself as an allergy.  Allergy symptoms vary greatly and can include coughing, sneezing, sore eyes, red eyes, runny nose, rashes, hives, eczema and other skin conditions.

Allergens commonly found in carpet include dust mite excretions, fur, dander (animal skin cells), mould spores, plant pollen, dirt, dust, bacteria, bugs and faeces.  If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, the allergens found in your carpet may be responsible.  

If dust mite excretions trigger your asthma, you may experience more serious symptoms including difficulty breathing, chest tightness or pain, trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath and wheezing.

How Does Carpet Cleaning Remove Allergens?

dust on fingerallergy

Unfortunately, a domestic vacuum cleaner is not particularly effective at removing many allergens.  According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, using a domestic cleaner can leave up to 95% of dust mites intact.  This is because they live in the deeper layers of the carpet and cannot be reached with a typical household vacuum.

To penetrate into the deeper layers of your carpet and kill dust mites, a professional carpet cleaner must be used.  The most effective carpet cleaner technology for this task is one that uses hot water extraction, also known as “steam cleaning”. 

When combined with carpet shampoos that contain tannic acid or benzyl benzoate, steam cleaning is very effective at killing dust mites.  This is confirmed by a study published in Journal Of Allergy And Clinical Immunology, which evaluated the efficacy of tannic acid and other chemical treatments on dust mites and cat dander (Woodfolk, Hayden, Couture & Plattsmills, 1995). 

The study looked at the release of airborne allergens after the carpets were chemically cleaned.  It found that airborne allergens were reduced by 64% after the carpet was cleaned with shampoos containing benzyl benzoate or tannic acid. 

Combining steam cleaning with a quality carpet shampoo is a very effective way to lower the level of allergens present in your home or place of business.

Additional Tips For Reducing The Number of Allergens in Your Home
While having clean carpets will greatly reduce the number of allergens in a home, there are other sources which you may have to deal with.  If you are concerned about allergies and the negative health impact of allergens, consider removing the following items:

  1. Thick wool blankets and quilts
  2. Items that collect dust, including books, fluffy toys, knick knacks and artificial flowers
  3. Upholstered furniture (use leather or vinyl furniture instead)

You should also ensure your day-to-day vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter, which removes more particulates from the air.

Some Other Benefits From Having Clean Carpets
In addition to living in a healthier environment, there are a number of other great benefits to having your carpets professionally cleaned, including:

  1. It Will Improve The Appearance of Your Carpet
    Having your carpets professional cleaned will restore their appearance and make your home or office look much nicer.  If you carpets are in a place of business, it is important to clean them regularly to maintain a professional appearance.  If your carpets are in your home, it is important to clean them regularly to ensure you and  your family stay healthy.
  2. To Remove Odours From Your Carpet
    If your carpets were particularly dirty, they may have contained fungi, bacteria and mould.  Over time, these substances can build up and cause your home or place of business to smell bad.
  3. To Increase The Longevity of Your Carpet
    Carpets that are filled with dust and dirt will eventually begin to attract insects.  These insects can eat the fibres that make up the carpet and damage its structural integrity over time.  You can add years to the lifespan of your carpet by having it professionally cleaned.
  4. To Remove Stains
    If you have your carpets professionally cleaned, you can remove many stains on your carpet and prevent recent stains from becoming permanent.

Woodfolk, J., Hayden, M., Couture, N., & Plattsmills, T. (1995). Chemical treatment of carpets to reduce allergen: Comparison of the effects of tannic acid and other treatments on proteins derived from dust mites and cats. Journal Of Allergy And Clinical Immunology, 96(3), 325-333.