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Germs in your Carpet

Carpet acts a filter to trap dirt, germs and allergens in your home. Any filter needs to be cleaned regularly in order for it to work properly. Carpet manufacturers such as Shaw and Mohawk require professional cleaning every 12-18 months in order to maintain warranty. If you're concerned about germs and bacteria, you should consider professional cleaning more often than that.

Current research indicates the average homeowners' carpet harbors about 200,000 bacteria (such as E. coli, staph, and salmonella) on every square inch, about 4,000 times as much as their toilet seat. Many viruses can survive in carpet for extended amounts of time, longer than on dry wood or tile surfaces. The Norwalk virus, which causes flu like symptoms, and salmonella can survive for well over a month. Skin cells, food particles, and pollen can all feed bacteria living in carpeting. Vacuums can remove some - but not all - of them.

Recommendations to lessen the amount of bacteria:

  • Vacuum weekly.
  • Remove shoes worn outside once inside the house.
  • Professional carpet cleaning twice a year.
  • Use machine-washable rugs in high-traffic areas.

Articles about dirt and germs in carpet:

Here's some of the other stuff that lands in your carpet:

Skin cells:

The average human sheds 1.5 million skin flakes in a single hour. The average American spends 90% of their time indoors. Dead skin cells contribute greatly to the dirt content in carpet.

Pet Dander: 

Pet dander is basically skin flakes, oils and hair from animals. Carpet traps this dander. Even if you don't have any pets, dander can come in on shoes, blow in through doors and windows or be brought in with visitors to be stored in carpet. 15% to 30% of the populace is allergic in some degree to pet dander, many of whom don't even realize it.

Dust mites:

Dust mites are a microscopic arachnid that feed on those dead skin cells and animal dander in carpet. Over 100,000 dust mites can be found in around 10 sq feet of carpet. These mites reproduce and die every 3 weeks. While not posing a health risk themselves, dust mites' fecal pellets and decomposing bodies cause an allergic reaction in 18-30% of the populace. In addition homes that are heavily carpeted have such a high level of dead mites (around 100,000 every three weeks per 10 feet of carpet!) and fecal pellets that 50% of the remaining populace that isn't allergic to dust mites will also exhibit symptoms of an allergy ranging from common cold like symptoms and skin rashes to difficulty breathing. They may also cause asthma and eczema.


A study done in 2002 found that even non-problematic, moisture free homes with proper cleaning could harbor various fungi species within their padding. In the test, a clean bedroom floor with no moisture source presented 18 species of active fungus. Humidity or moisture from bathrooms, kitchens, plumbing and other environmental influences can increase this number. Fungi and molds are another known source of allergies and certain types can release toxic chemicals known as mycotoxins.

Pollen and other unpleasant ingredients:

Much of what ends up in carpet is walked in from outside. This can include but is not limited to pollen, plant particles, fecal matter, sand, gravel, pesticides, ash, lead, arsenic, soil and bug bits. Pollen and certain types of plants are yet another common allergen.

Bed bugs: 

While called bed bugs these blood sucking critters will take up residence under carpeting creeping up into beds to reproduce and feed.

Fleas and ticks:

Two more forms of blood sucking insect that also find carpet padding an idea place to lay eggs and/or hide. While fleas are the more commonly found intruder, ticks can carry harmful diseases and pose a health risk.

Carpet beetles: 

While not dangerous, carpet beetles consist of several species of beetle that dwell under carpeting. They feed on mostly cloth fibers including that which your carpet is made of, but may also sneak into dry food stores particularly grains and animal feed.

The above information condensed from THIS article by Unwirklich Vin Zant