The Bacteria In Your Carpet
With the average household carpet having around 200,000 bacteria on every square inch of material, it can be unnerving to think about just what may be lurking in your own unit. The weekly vacuuming is not enough to remove all the grime that is buried within the material – which is why you will find carpets gradually becoming dull over time as the content that is buried within them accumulates. This includes decaying or organic matter – from food crumbs plus the body parts and faecal residue of the insects that come to feed on them, to pollen grains and dead skin being shed by the occupants of the house – which provides sustenance to the colonies of microbes within the carpet. These come with their varying health risks, which is not a threat you want to expose your family members to.
Common Pathogens That Could Be Residing In Your Carpet
- E. Coli
This pathogen, typically associated with faecal residue, can find its way into the carpet through different means. For instance, Fluffy, while out in the dog park, may have stepped into some dog poop, and tracked this home. It can also be a case of splashes from the toilet that get onto the footwear, that eventually makes it to the carpet. Raw meat products that get dropped onto the carpet, the faecal waste of pests like rodents coming to feed on the food crumbs strewn all over the fibres – these all contribute to the growing populations of E. Coli in the carpet. There are different strains of the bacteria, ranging from harmless ones to those that cause diarrhoea and UTIs. Kids – especially the young ones crawling on the carpet, who touch the fibres and put their hands on their faces and in their mouths, are at a high risk of picking up the pathogens and ingesting them.
This is also spread through the faecal material that gets tracked onto the carpet, and from contaminated food residue. Salmonella can lead to abdominal cramping, diarrhoea and fever, with the infants and kids being the most susceptible. It makes you wonder how safe your little ones are as they play around on the carpet, doesn’t it?
It’s particularly troublesome during the winter months, with increased cases of moisture in the carpet especially due to family members walking into the house with snowy and soaking shoes, conditions that enable the bacteria to thrive. It causes campylobacteriosis, that is especially problematic to persons with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and small kids.
- Staphylococcus aureus (Staph)
Staph bacteria are carried around by a huge section of the population – as much as 25%, and it lies on the skin or in the nose of even healthy people. Staph infections vary, ranging from minor skin irritation, to extreme conditions that land you in hospital. All it takes is a cut on the skin that gets infected with the bacteria for one to get it. While there are strains of the bacteria that can be cured with antibiotics, some require more extensive measures due to their higher resistance. How does staph wind up in the carpet? This can be through different means, from blood on the material, direct skin contact, soiled hands and dirty fingernails, all through to mucous deposits that are deposited when one sneezes in the indoor environment.
One particularly notorious pathogen is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), that can have been brought home from gyms and locker rooms. That gym bag that you simply get home and drop onto the floor, cases where one doesn’t take off the shoes before stepping onto the carpet – they can increase the chances of MRSA being deposited on the carpet. Now with household members playing video games while on the carpet, the occasional wrestling especially with kids, or simply watching some TV while laying back on the cosy material, they can be exposed to infection, especially if they have a cut on the skin. Even healthy people can carry around MRSA for days. Symptoms of infection include red bumps which grow more painful over time, fever plus rashes.
What About Viruses?
They’re not left behind. For instance, the Norwalk virus, also known as the Norovirus, loves carpets. It can survive in the warm fibres for 4-6 weeks, whilst still retaining its potency. It gets airborne when people walk or roll around on the carpet, and is particularly prevalent in areas with lots of dust. Its symptoms resemble stomach flu or food poisoning.
A thorough wash that gets rid of that decaying organic matter is a key step to protect your loved ones. The kinds of products and systems used for the process also matter. For instance, carpet cleaning methods like hot water extraction involve the use of a mixture of detergents and heated water, that kills the pathogens and destroys their colonies, and these are then removed together with the rest of the grime. Note there that are different methods for each type of carpet, especially depending on the natural or synthetic material used to construct it.
Hiring the professionals to carry out the carpet cleaning has its advantages. For starters, they have powerful machinery, that can deliver a deep clean in a fraction of the time that you would have taken using the rented equipment from the local dealerships. With a trained and experienced team handling the task, you can also rest assured that the carpet will be in safe hands, with the appropriate products and systems being selected for the task. This beats going DIY and risking the structural integrity of your carpet while working with common household detergents. One of the common mistakes seen with the DIY carpet cleaning is actually using the wrong chemicals for the task, especially when faced with stubborn stains and dirt spots. In a bid to remove these spots, the DIYer tends to turn to harsh cleaners, that were effective on other surfaces around the home but which end up ruining the carpet in the process. You won’t have to worry about such a turn of events when the professionals are working on the carpet.