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Carpet cleaning is important for keeping your home free from contamination and for protecting your family’s health.

Did you know that the contamination lurking outside your home is just waiting to latch onto the soles of your shoes, and then be brought into your home? Carpet cleaning should be done on a regular basis to prevent contamination from outside germs making themselves at home in your home.

These germs may contain a virus or pathogen such as hepatitis, herpes, E.coli, tetanus, rabies, strep or cold- and flu-causing germs. All this from research gathered by Gary Null, a US-based expert in nutrition and health sciences.

Lurking germs

These germs can be found in any part of a city; even in the greenest of green suburbs. Take a moment to think about it – you routinely visit these infected areas: public toilets, corner cafés, doctor’s rooms, shopping malls and then there’s your own backyard. Yes, living in a sunny climate means sand, grit and hard dirt particles from your garden are often stomped into your home by energetic children and bounding dogs.

But before parental guilt sets in, remember that a small dose of germs is actually good for your child’s developing immune system. Nonetheless, tread with caution, especially if you have a busy baby crawling through the house looking for something to chew on.

The good news is, short of an expert clean, maintaining your carpet is easy enough. According to the Bane-Clene Institute, a carpet cleaning training facility in the United States, only about 10 per cent of carpet dirt is oily and needs special attention. The other 90 per cent of carpet soil is dry and easily removable with normal vacuuming and other preventative measures.

Carpet cleaning tips

  • Buy a good-quality, upright vacuum cleaner with a reel-type brush. Uprights work best on carpets and rugs while canister vacuum cleaners are more adept on hard surfaces.
  • Keep the suction strong by changing the disposable bags of the vacuum cleaner often.
  • Vacuum slowly using a back and forth motion, repeating the action over the same spot in the opposite direction.
  • Vacuum traffic lanes every day. This gives dust and dirt zero chance to settle in and cause lasting damage.
  • Don’t allow shoes in the house. Follow the traditional Japanese practice and remove shoes at the entrance. Either walk around the house barefoot or wear slippers.
  • Place removable mats inside and outside main doors. Choose mats that can be vacuumed and laundered mats.

When to deep clean

Knowing when to get the pros in to deep clean your carpet depends on a number of things such as whether you smoke inside the house, if you have pets and children and how old your children are.

Cleaning frequency will differ according to the humidity level in your region. The most humid city is Durban; Johannesburg’s heat is dry so it’s not as much of a problem. Some parts of Cape Town that don’t get the cool sea breeze may also get quite humid. While SA Carpet Cleaning provides a detailed breakdown of how often you should seek expert assistance, it says say that regular DIY carpet cleaning with hot water is all it takes to effectively extract dirt.

A question of health

Rudolph Schoonraad of Cape Town-based Faris Carpets, which sells luxury Persian and Afghani carpets and kelims, says: “A regular deep clean by the pros means you’re covering the basics in hygiene and doing your bit for the environment.”

He explains that whatever dust and dander is collected in a carpet will later circulate, contaminating the air in your home.

Cleaning carpets regularly produces cleaner air. This helps to prevent skin-related problems and serious allergies from developing. It also creates a safer environment asthmatics and pregnant women.

Schoonraad advises you not to “go it alone’ when tackling a dirty carpet. He says it is too easy to oversaturate it and get the cleaning agent proportions wrong, not to mention the tough work involved when handling the rented machinery. This essential deep clean needs to be as often as every three months; smaller families may only need to sanitise their carpets every six months.

Lucille Kemp