One month ago we moved into a new flat. The flat was beautiful but the carpet in it was dirty, stained and had this musty smell. It looked like it was about 10 years old and had been used by many different tenants. A friend of mine said living with a carpet like this is like not changing your underwear for 10 years. So it did not take me long to decide to be better at practising allergen avoidance and steam clean the carpet, and I am happy I did.
Did you know that if you have a carpet at home, it is most likely inhabited by millions of dust mites? Did you also know that living with dust mites can cause you to develop allergy and asthma symptoms? To prevent this, steam cleaning the carpet on a regular basis is a good idea. Steam cleaning not only removes dirt and bacteria from your carpet, but also washes out dust mites and dust mite allergens, pollen, and pet dander.
You can buy a steam cleaner and wash your carpet yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. I decided to hire a professional. A good steam cleaner functions like a washing machine for your carpet. The key is to use plenty of fresh water while at the same time leave as little water behind in the carpet as possible. A professional steam cleaner uses up to 45 litres of fresh water for one to two rooms. Any decent steam cleaner will also allow you to adjust the temperature of the steam. A professional steam cleaner can release steam that is up to 160 degrees hot, which is so hot it will kill all dust mites - but also melt most synthetic carpets and shrink wool carpets (just as your wool sweater would in the washing machine). However, if the water is too cold the steam cleaner will not kill the dust mites and will not properly clean the carpet either. For a wool carpet the steam should be 50-60 degrees hot, and for most synthetic carpets you can heat the steam to 70-80 degrees.
You will be happy to know that dust mites will be killed when exposed to 60-degrees. But to break down dust mite remains and get as much dirt out of the carpet as possible, you should also use carpet-cleaning detergent with the water. For our wool carpet, the person we hired used "Formula 90 Powder," for a synthetic carpet he would have used "Power Burst." If you want your carpet to smell good as I did, you can ask to have him mix a lemon refresh deodorizer into the steaming water. All the products he used are supposedly especially allergy and asthma sufferer friendly. Just remember, wash your hands well after handling any cleaning chemicals. Allersearch makes a fantastic range of domestic allergen neutralizers that are free from unnecessary chemicals and dyes.
Depending on how your carpet is attached to the floor, you might find more dust collecting on the carpet along the wall. This was the case in our flat and definitely needed a bit more attention. The reason for this is that many carpets are attached to a metal rod that keeps the carpet in place. Walking on the carpet creates friction, which magnetizes the metal rods and carpet so that they attract more dust and dirt.
After your carpet has been steamed cleaned let the carpet dry. Depending on the carpet this could take anywhere between two to four hours. If you are sensitive to gases and fumes, as I am, you might want to leave the house during that time. If possible, don't walk on the wet carpet either, especially not barefoot or with dirty shoes. To avoid your furniture staining your carpet, you should place small plastic sheets under the legs of your furniture in every room. Because my carpet was professionally cleaned, these sheets were provided to us.
Steam cleaning your carpet (if it is done right) makes a world of difference. The company we used to steam clean our carpet charged £58.00 for a large one bedroom flat with two walk-in closets. So, from one flat renter with dust mite allergies to the next, I can highly recommend properly steam cleaning your carpet! If you have any further tips or suggestions regarding steam cleaning your carpet, please share them with me by leaving a comment below - thank you!