8 Dirty Secrets Your Carpet May Be Keeping from You

The joys of carpeting are many: It’s undeniably the softest, most comfortable type of flooring, it muffles sound, and it helps insulate rooms from temperature swings. But that plush pile is hiding a dark side. The very thing that makes carpeting so wonderful—all those thick twists of yarn—is also what makes it the perfect home and hiding spot for a scary array of gross organisms and debris you’d rather not think about, but really should. Here are 8 nasties that may be hiding right underneath your feet.

  1. Bugs

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    Bugs In Carpet

    A study published in Scientific Reports found that carpeted homes had a greater variety of insects than non-carpeted homes. The researchers theorized, however, that most of these insects didn’t actually live in the carpeting. Instead, once inside the home, many became caught in the carpet pile and perished, turning the carpeting into into a plush bug cemetery. 

    Solution: Vacuum at least weekly to remove bugs, and patch up any rips or gaps around windows and doors to help keep bugs out to begin with.

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  2. Mold

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    Mold In Carpet

    One of the biggest problems with carpet is that it soaks up fluid faster than you can blot it dry. That means that spilled food or drinks tend to wick deep down into the carpet fibers and pad, where they become a breeding ground for various types of mold. Not only does mold lead to stains and odor, but mold spores are another common cause of indoor allergies. 

    Solution: Always blot spills dry as quickly as possible, and then follow up with an enzyme cleaner to break down and remove food residue.

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  3. Skin Flakes

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    Skin Flakes In Carpet

    On average, you shed 1.5 million skin flakes each day. Multiply that by the number of people living in your home, and then consider that those flakes have to go somewhere—and that "somewhere" is generally down to the floor, where the flakes wedge between carpet fibers. While that’s gross enough, the real problem is that those flakes become dinner for dust mites, and dust mite waste is one of the most common causes of indoor allergies.

    Solution: Vacuum regularly, and keep your carpet dry, because dust mites are most comfortable when the humidity is high.

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  4. Pollen

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    Pollen In Carpet

    Spring is in the air, and that means pollen is everywhere—including on your carpets. Actually, pollen is a year-round problem in many areas, and the dusty stuff easily enters your home through open windows and doors as well as on your clothing. That’s a problem, because pollen is a common cause of hay fever and asthma flare-ups. 

    Solution: Vacuum your carpets at least once a week, and more often if you tend to keep windows open or have an allergy sufferer at home.

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  5. Dog Poop

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    Dog Poop In Carpet

    Even if you don’t own a dog, it’s almost certain that your carpet contains microscopic bits of dog droppings. Take your child to the park and walk on the grass, stroll down a city sidewalk, step into the gutter as you get out of your car...all day long, your shoes are picking up residue from animal waste, which wipes off onto your carpet when you get home. 

    Solution: Take your shoes off at your front door, and change into a pair of indoor-only slippers or house shoes.

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  6. Kitty Litter

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    Kitty Litter In Carpet

    Fluffy is a beloved member of your family, but an indoor cat means a litter box, and that means tracked litter. Once cat litter hits the carpet, it works its way down between the fibers, bringing bacteria, odor, and grit along with it. 

    Solution: Spread a nubby pad to catch litter next to the litter box. It will trap loose litter and help clean off your cat's feet at the same time. 

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  7. Germs

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    Germs In Carpet

    According to microbiologist Dr. Philip Tierno of NYU Langone Medical Center, carpet can contain a shocking 200,000 bacteria per square inch. That’s more than your toilet seat! While most of these germs are harmless, others, including E. coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus, can cause digestive upset, skin infections, respiratory illness, or allergic reactions.

    Solution: Give your carpets a thorough, deep steam cleaning at least once per year.

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  8. Dirt

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    Dirt In Carpet

    Your carpet can hold a whole lot of dirt. In fact, there are potentially several pounds of it spread throughout the house. Most of that dirt is tracked in on shoes or on the feet and fur of pets, although some blows in through open doors and windows, or comes down the fireplace. Once dirt gets in the carpet, it creates stains and can increase populations of bacteria, mold, and bugs. 

    Solution: Put doormats at all entrances to your home so family and visitors can wipe dirt off their shoes, and vacuum weekly.

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  9. Grab the Vacuum!

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    Vacuum Carpet

    If you don't already, after reading this you'll want to make sure you vacuum your floors once week!

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