Carpets and Carpet Fibers: “Wall to Wall Germ Farms”
By Cesar Collado
It is easy to picture children playing with toys on a clean carpet in the middle of the room; however, carpet may not be the best place for children to play. New carpet off-gasses numerous toxic chemicals used to make the carpet. In fact, your carpet is also the largest air filter in the home. Carpet fibers can trap bacteria, mold, viruses, dust mites, pollen, dust, dead skin cells, mycotoxins, toxic chemicals, pollutants, dirt, pet feces and urine, and more. Like last week’s article on biofilm (HERE), pathogens and antigens can flourish together in the same environment. A square inch carper may hold over 200,000 bacteria. That is 4000 times more than your toilet.
On the other hand, research has shown that a well-maintained carpet can reduce airborne allergens, contributing to healthier indoor air quality. While good indoor air quality is important for everybody, it is most important for sensitive people. Unlike hard surface flooring, carpet can trap particles for lengthy periods and they can become anchored in and resistant to normal vacuuming.
“Carpet May Hold up to 200,000 Bacteria Per Square Inch. That is about 4000 times more than your toilet.”
A dirty carpet can also weigh up to 8x its initial weight when being removed due to the weight of the trapped debris in the carpet fibers. It is recommended that carpets be regularly vacuumed and deep cleaned often to maintain the carpet, and to remove microbial allergens and pathogens. Small Particle removal using a HEPA vacuum can become your new best friend.
Dirty Carpets Can Lead to Many Health Conditions:
- Trigger asthma, allergies, or cause other respiratory illness – Elements such as dust mites, fungi spores, mold, dander, toxins, and other allergens can cause respiratory illness and trigger asthma attacks. Bacteria and fungi can cause infections.
- Weaken your immune system –Our immune systems respond to bacteria and toxic substances by triggering inflammation to fight and protect the body’s cells. When you are continuously living in a dirty environment, your immune system can go into overdrive during its battle with its environment. An overwhelmed immune system can lead to you feeling sick, or to chronic illness. It also prevents your body from performing its normally durable healing process.
- Cause skin irritation –Dirt, bacteria, and fungus can work their way onto your skin, or enter your blood system through cuts on your feet, leading to conditions such as athlete’s foot, skin irritation, and rashes.
- Harbor unwanted insects –Without regular HEPA vacuuming , your carpet can become a haven for dust mites, fleas, and other insects. Due to the reproduction capacity of most insects, as many as a few can turn into an overwhelming population.
- Lead to a systemic moldy environment – Carpets and carpet padding absorbs moisture and contain cellulose in the padding and adhesives. If a carpet is exposed to flooding or continuous humidity, mold often becomes problematic throughout the home as it will be continuously disturbed when walked on and can spread mold spores into the air.
Introducing BioBalance HavenClean Carpet and Upholstered Furniture Treatment
HavenClean is a non-toxic, natural, citrus-based solution for safely maintaining your home or office from mold growth. It has a subtle, fresh, citrussy scent. HavenClean is the result of professional mold remediation efforts and product formulations over the past decade by BioBalance Technicians. During mold remediation, having carpets removed and replaced with hard flooring is the standard recommendation for mold sick and sensitive individuals. It is often deemed essential for the mold sensitive. Unfortunately, this is not always possible for homeowners and renters. BioBalance technicians have placed significant efforts into perfecting a cleaning method with an emphasis on testing the carpet for mold levels prior to cleaning and validating the cleaning effort with a negative test result after cleaning. (Read more about mold testing with purpose HERE.) Recently, the final formulation was introduced to the Haven line of BioBalance products available for online purchase.
HavenClean also includes a surfactant in the formula to actively seek out soil, mold, and other germs, encapsulate them, and escort them out of the carpet during the water extraction process.
The product has also been tested on upholstered furniture and other textile case goods, complete with before and after mold testing. It is designed to combine with a hot water extraction carpet and upholstery cleaning system. HavenClean is cost effective, as one bottle mixes with 5 gallons of warm water in a rented or purchased Carpet Cleaning Machine.
Carpet Cleaning Machines
HavenClean is meant to be used with a commercial sized carpet cleaner, often rented from a Hardware or Grocery
Store. The Gold Standards for carpet cleaning rentals are 5-gallon commercial machines by Rug Doctor or Bissell. Both come equipped with upholstery tools to clean furniture and mattresses. These machines work by injecting a hot solution into the carpet or fabric furniture and simultaneously performing liquid extraction so that the carpet or furniture can dry in a timely manner.
While there are many consumer models of carpet cleaning equipment available for purchase, the larger commercial grade machines are recommended for wall to wall carpet jobs. Smaller units have single gallon water tanks and require regular “emptying & refilling”. In addition, the smaller units do not have the water extraction capabilities of the commercial units. The larger units are also more durable and will pay for themselves over time.
It has been BioBalance technician’s experience that renting from a hardware store results in renting better cleaned and maintained machines than from a grocery store.
How to Use HavenClean? (step by step)
1. Perform a tap test with an ImmunoLytics Mold Test Plate
2. Identify a Carpet Cleaner to rent.
a. Rug Doctor and Bissell websites will help you find one using your zip code.
b. I recommend renting from a hardware store. No need to purchase the chemically based carpet cleaning solution.
3. After taking the carpet cleaner home, familiarize yourself with the room. Ideally, it should be cleared of furniture.
4. Add a bottle of HavenClean to a 5 gallon bucket and fill with hot water from your tap.
5. Fill the water tank of your carpet cleaning machine with the diluted HavenClean solution from the 5 gallon bucket.
6. Clean the carpet following the machine directions. This consists of a spray and water extraction mode that is controllable by your hand. Repeat the water extraction mode 1-2 more times to ensure as much water is removed as possible.
7. Allow your carpet to dry for a minimum if 6-8 hours (in a dry climate).
8. Nonetheless mold growth can occur with very moldy carpet, although, HavenClean will suppress mold growth. Moldy carpet must be dried as fast as possible to avoid the activation or reproduction of new mold colonies. This normally takes 6-8 hours in a dry climate. It can take more time to dry in humid conditions.
9. For mold sensitive, or following a severe flood, it is recommended to aid the drying of the carpet by providing additional ventilation or using a carpet blower during the drying process.
a. Turning on a ceiling or floor fan.
b. Turn on air conditioning. This will cycle on and off and dehumidify the home.
c. Open curtains to let sunlight in.
d. A dehumidifier is an excellent way to remove moisture from the air and carpet, especially if you live in a place with high humidity (i.e. – greater than 60%).
e. You can rent a carpet blower from Home Depot or other equipment renter.
10. Test the carpet for mold after treatment with ImmunoLytics Mold Test Plates.
Taking Care of your Carpet after cleaning with HavenClean
For all carpets, but especially carpets owned by mold sensitive people, it is recommended to clean your carpet at least 2 times a year. In between, deep cleaning, HEPA vacuuming weekly or more often is recommended for small particle removal. Another helpful maintenance step is to mist with a BioBalance HavenMist Kit on a weekly basis to keep mold air count at their lowest levels.
In closing, your carpet can collect many small particles such as dust, dirt, germs, and mold. If you are mold sensitive, removal or regular deep cleaning is essential to maintaining a mold free home.