Allergens and Carpets – A New
Look at an Old Topic
Conventional wisdom has held for years that if you have allergies, you should
have hard surface floors. Everyone from doctors, nurses, and the National
Institutes of Health recommended that carpets and rugs be removed from the homes
of people with allergies.
The thinking has been that carpets contain fibers and because fibers are known
to trap allergens any room with carpets would have a higher amount of airborne
allergens. It has been supposed that as the carpet fibers are disturbed by
people walking across them the fibers would release the allergens into the air.
A recent study shows that carpets might not be as bad as previously thought.
First is the disclaimer. The study was conducted on behalf of Shaw Industries
Group, the largest manufacturer of carpets in the world. Shaw is wholly owned by
Berkshire Hathaway. Link to official study.
Both new and used carpets were part of the test. New carpets were soiled on
purpose. Used carpets were taken from places as diverse as Las Vegas, Nevada and
One of the first things noticed by the researchers was that the age of the
carpet reflected how deeply the allergens were imbedded. With newer carpets, the
allergens were nearer the surface of the carpet. In older carpets, the allergens
were more deeply embedded in the fibers. This suggests that with age, the fibers
migrate to the bottom of the carpet, closer to the backing.
The carpet samples were “disturbed” to simulate what happens when people, pets,
and furniture are moved across the carpets. Air samples were taken before and
after the disturbance. It was surprising to find that the older carpets released
fewer allergens into the air than the newer carpets. In the case of fungi and
bacteria the newer carpets released considerably more fungi and bacteria than
cat and dust mite allergen. The researchers hypothesized that changes to the
fiber structure as a result of wear and tear cause the carpets to capture more
allergens, bacteria, and fungi. This is in addition to the allergens being more
deeply imbedded in the carpet.
Next, the effectiveness of cleaning was tested on these carpets. The testing was
to determine if cleaning made a change in the quantity and distribution of
allergen particles and microbes on the carpet surface and in the air. In the
used carpets that were subjected to the cleaning process, there was a reduction
after disturbance in airborne dust mite allergen levels. There was not much
change in the cat allergen levels. For the new carpets that were cleaned there
was a more noticeable reduction in airborne allergens of all sorts.
So, the carpet companies will now begin their campaign to convince health care
professionals that carpets should not be banned for people with allergies.
While the carpets in my home were not part of this test, over the last 20 years
I have had a combination of carpet, ceramic tile, hard wood and wood laminate
floors. I can tell you from personal experience that I definitely saw a
reduction in my allergy symptoms and the amount of dust I see in my home after
removal of the carpets. I don’t currently have any carpet in my home and I don’t
plan on having any in the future.
Based on the results of this study we make the following recommendations if you
If you have new carpets, vacuum them regularly and thoroughly and treat with
ADMS Anti-Allergen Spray. Since the study showed that the allergens are at the
top layer of new carpets, the spray can reach the allergens and effectively
neutralize them on contact.
If you have older carpets, vacuum them regularly and treat them every 3 or 4
months with X-Mite Powder. Since X-Mite Powder is worked into the fibers of the
carpet, it will penetrate deeply where the allergens are embedded.
No matter the age of your carpet, regular vacuuming and cleaning should be part
of your maintenance routine.