There is a lot of conflicting research about whether people with allergies should have wall-to-wall carpet. Allergies are often caused by house dust mites, which thrive in warm, humid environments and are commonly found in carpet, bedding, soft furnishings and clothing. However, there’s also a growing body of research that suggests carpet actually traps the dust mites rather than allowing them to become airborne and is therefore more beneficial to allergy sufferers.
While research continues, many experts are still advising those with allergies to install hard floor coverings that can be easily cleaned, and floor rugs that can be washed and exposed to sunlight. House dust mite allergies have also been linked with an increase in the frequency and severity of asthma.
The Asthma Foundation of NSW suggests:
- If you want carpet, low-pile varieties are better as there’s less area for dust mites to build up.
- Vacuum at least once a week, using a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) filter, or install an externally ducted vacuum cleaning system. At the very least, use double-walled vacuum bags.
- While vacuuming, people with allergies should wear a mask and keep doors and windows open.
- People with allergic reactions should stay out of the room for 20 minutes after vacuuming to give the dust allergens time to dissipate.
- Floor coverings made from vegetable fibers, such as coir, sisal, seagrass and jute, are a popular substitute to regular carpets.
- Sisal, which is made from the leaves of the agave plant, coir (made from coconut husks) and seagrass coverings are durable and very stain-resistant.
- Colors and styles are limited and, on the whole, they feel rougher than regular carpet.
- Jute, which is extracted from the inner bark of a plant grown in Asia, is a finer floor covering and generally not recommended for high-traffic areas, but is softer underfoot.
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