- THE MAGAZINE
A survey recently conducted by IICRC found that more than eight out of 10 U.S. homeowners (81 percent) feel their family’s health is directly related to the cleanliness of floors in the home. The survey results, in conjunction with other similar findings, also discuss a long-standing misperception that carpet is the least effective type of flooring when it comes to minimizing conditions that aggravate allergies. In reality the opposite is true. Scientific studies have shown carpet to be more effective in trapping allergens keeping them from becoming airborne inside the home. The key is proper cleaning.
IICRC technical advisor Jeff Bishop offers 10 tips for simple clean-up to improve indoor air quality:
- Keep Walkway and Entries Clean – Start by keeping outside sidewalks, entry areas, porches and steps clean. Sweep, dust, vacuum or use a leaf blower to remove soil and debris from entries to eliminate tracking into the facility.
- Use Mats to Trap Soil at Entries – Outside and interior mats to trap and contain particles and moisture should be placed at each entry. This not only extends the life of carpet, it greatly reduces the quantity of particles that enter and build up within traffic areas, eventually becoming airborne.
- Clean Shoes at Entries – Studies conducted by professional engineers on carpet dust samples indicate that fine particles containing lead are reduced by cleaning or removing and leaving shoes at the entry.
- Purchase and Use High Quality Vacuum Equipment – A quality, durable upright vacuum with brush agitation is a must. Price is not as important as quality. Check trade or consumer magazines and expect sales persons to provide technically accurate information. Also, check the Carpet and Rug Institute’s list of vacuums that qualify for the Green Label Program at: www.carpet-rug.org.
- Use High Efficiency Vacuum Filter Bag – Using high-efficiency (HEPA-type) double-lined vacuum filter bags can filter out 99 percent of particles down to one micron or less in size. Avoid cheap paper filter bags that remove particles down to seven microns only. Small particles that pass easily through paper filter bags are a major source of respiratory irritation, as well as household dust.
- Vacuum Frequency – Consumers should increase the frequency of vacuuming to stop soil from sifting downward and becoming embedded in the carpet pile. Vacuuming should be done more slowly in entry areas where most particle soils accumulate. Vacuum slowly over traffic areas two or three times.
- HVAC Filters – Use quality pleated or reusable electrostatic filters for HVAC systems. Reusable filters have acrylic rods that vibrate and create a static electricity that charges soil particles, thereby attracting them to the filter. Anticipate a cost of between $50 and $100 for quality filters. Reusable filters should be removed and flushed free of collected soils on a monthly basis.
- Clean the Carpet – Professional Hot Water Extraction cleaning lifts and suspends fine particles of soil. Then careful extraction flushes them from carpet fibers. To locate a cleaning technician who is trained and certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, call the toll-free hotline at (800) 835-4624 or log on to www.certifiedcleaners.org.
- Clean Other Soft Surfaces – Clean upholstery, drapery, bedding and other fabric surfaces regularly; wash linens weekly to remove allergens.
- Control Moisture and Humidity – Dust mites and mold are the two most common allergens present in higher humidity climates. According to studies conducted at Wright State University, dust mite infestation will be eliminated if the relative humidity of the building, not just a particular area, is consistently maintained below 50 percent.