What is in our dirty carpets? There is something a bit off-putting about walking into an office and being confronted with dirty, worn-out carpet covered in stains. This is visually unappealing, but it could also be compromising the health and wellbeing of the people who spend time there. So, let’s take a look at what might be lurking in your office carpets. Dirt and debris Dirt, gravel, and other debris is tracked in every day as people come and go from the building. This will get lodged in the fine fibres of the carpet and accumulate over time. Not only does this lead to discoloured patches in heavy foot traffic areas, it also wears the carpet out faster. Dirt is very abrasive and wears down carpet fibres quite quickly, especially as people walk over top of it all day long. Bacteria and viruses A lot of different bacteria can live in grubby carpets – most of them are harmless but a few of them could potentially cause bigger problems. For example Norovirus (which causes the stomach bug) can live in unclean carpet for over a month! Pollen Flower and plant pollen are often found in carpets, especially around the summer and autumn months. As people come in and out of work they will track a lot of pollen in with them – particularly as pollen counts are higher between 5am and 10am when most people are arriving at work. It will also make its way in through entrances and windows, and settle into the carpet. Mould and spores Yes, mould can grow in your carpet! All mould needs is somewhere to sit, a bit of oxygen and humidity, and a source of food. Unclean carpets contain all of these things. If you notice mildew or damp smells coming from your carpet, this could indicate a mould problem. Or if you have had a mystery mildew smell and haven’t been able to locate the source – it might be time for a carpet clean! Dust mites You can’t see them without a microscope, but dust mites are living in your home and workplace. They feed off of the millions of dead skill cells that humans lose every day. The mite itself is harmless, but their waste is an allergen to humans and can cause allergies and other complications. Food and drink spills Food and drink is commonly dropped around staff kitchens or by people eating lunch at their desks. Not everyone in the office is great at cleaning up after themselves, so you’ve no doubt got the odd coffee stain or some old food lingering among the carpet. All of these things could be causing various health problems among people in your workplace. Ranging from somewhat irritating to quite dangerous, these may include: Skin problems The various allergens that live in dirty carpets can cause irritations on the skin. People may experience itchiness, swelling, or red patches. Allergies As well as skin reactions, these allergens can cause other types of allergy flare-ups. They can trigger hay fever and sinus problems, watery eyes, sneezing, or general lethargy. Respiratory illness One of the more serious health complications from unclean carpets is asthma. All of the irritants and organisms in the carpet become airborne and be breathed into the lungs. This can cause asthma attacks or flu-like symptoms and can cause or aggravate coughing. Weakened immune system Mycotoxins are tiny toxins produced by fungi. If you have a fungus problem in your carpet, prolonged exposure to mycotoxins weakens your overall immune response. Who would have known that a bit of dirty carpet could be so dangerous?! Here are some things you can do to keep your carpet healthy and reduce the risk of health complications: Replace old worn out carpet It is easy to tell when carpet needs replacing. It will be discoloured, getting threadbare, maybe a bit smelly, and just generally looking very sorry for itself. Carpet lasts a considerable amount of time so has potentially been gathering dirt and dust for decades! When it’s time to replace it, go for a natural fibre carpet like cotton or hemp. While synthetic carpets might be a bit more luscious, they also collect and hold more allergens. Use a HEPA filter vacuum HEPA filters are your best bet for keeping dust, dirt, mites, and other allergens out of your carpet. They are specially designed to pick up the tiniest particles that other vacuums might miss – meaning that less allergens end up stuck in the carpets or circulating in the air. Hire a professional Dirty and unhealthy carpets can take a toll on your staff wellbeing. Crewcare offers carpet cleaning services to improve your workplace environment. Our commercial carpet cleaning can be a one-off service, or can be scheduled as part of an ongoing contract to keep your carpets maintained long-term. Get in touch today to find out more.