(ARA) - Today, air quality in the indoor environment is of utmost concern and importance. Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors -- at home and at work -- often in energy-efficient buildings that lack sufficient fresh air ventilation.
One of the ways to protect the indoor air quality (IAQ) is to keep all indoor surfaces as clean as possible. Vacuuming away the dust and dirt that falls to the floor is a major element of cleanliness and is the most effective way to clean floors. Beyond the commonly known benefits -- warmth, quiet, safety, beauty, and softness -- carpet provides air quality benefits by helping to control dust and dirt, keeping it out of the air and out of the breathing zone. Keeping carpet and floors clean without spreading dust back into the air can be a major benefit in keeping the entire room clean. It is very important to use a vacuum cleaner that cleans effectively, minimizes dust generation from the filter and around the machine while retaining the appearance of the carpet.
Vacuum cleaners can produce dramatically different results in cleaning efficiency and differ significantly in their impact on the indoor air. For this reason, it is important for consumers to be able to identify models that perform well in these tasks. The carpet industry and participating vacuum cleaner manufacturers are committed to providing consumers with programs and products that address good indoor air quality.
The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) has initiated a voluntary Vacuum Cleaner Indoor Air Quality Testing Program that identifies vacuum cleaners that have been evaluated by an independent testing laboratory and have met the carpet industry standard for all three elements: soil removal, dust containment, and carpet appearance.
The CRI IAQ label assists the purchaser by identifying vacuum cleaners that have demonstrated features that protect the carpet investment while minimizing adverse impacts on indoor air quality.
A good practice is to vacuum the areas often that receive the most traffic, such as hallways, stairs, and exterior entryways in the home. Ideally, vacuum the entire carpeted area a minimum of twice a week. Removing loose soil while it remains on the surface is important so that it is not walked into the carpet pile. Removing embedded soil is more difficult and time consuming than removing surface soil.
Following the vacuum cleaner manufacturers' guidelines and good vacuuming habits will maintain both the beauty of your carpet and the indoor air quality environment.
As one of the home's most valuable and noticeable decorative elements, carpet should receive regular deep cleaning to maintain its good looks. According to The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), allowing carpet and rugs to become excessively soiled makes cleaning more difficult and shortens their lifecycle.
The CRI recommends that carpet be deep-extraction cleaned every 12 to 18 months, before soiling shows. A certified carpet cleaning professional is recommended. When selecting a professional for extraction cleaning, ask a representative to make an initial visit for visual inspection of areas that may require extra attention. Prior to using any professional cleaning service, contact the carpet manufacturer to verify the warranty restrictions.
Some homeowners may opt for do-it-yourself cleaning with the wide availability of carpet-cleaning equipment for sale or to rent. If you choose to perform extraction cleaning yourself, follow the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations to maintain the carpet warranty.
Another problem that has been on the rise and in headlines recently has been the invasion of mold and mildew into our homes and workspaces. During the last few years, there have been numerous misconceptions about mold, mildew and the role that carpet plays in it all.
The truth of the matter is that mold and mildew exist only where there is excess moisture and dirt coupled with poor cleaning and maintenance habits. Keeping carpet clean and dry is of the utmost importance for a healthy home.
Mold growth can occur on any surface -- from windowpanes to carpet to hardwood floors -- that is not properly maintained and where moisture is extreme. Eliminating sources of excessive moisture, such as water leaks, and controlling humidity greatly offset the potential for mold to grow.
Water is essential for mold growth and water leaks are often associated with mold growth. Once mold growth has begun, high humidity at the surface of an organic food source (dirt) may be all that is needed to sustain growth. The message is quite simple: Clean and dry equals no mold growth.
If water damage does occur to your carpet, contact a firm that specializes in water damage restoration services. Professional water damage restoration firms understand the basic principles of mold management.
Control of environmental conditions is the most effective method of preventing mold activity. Cool, dry conditions, adequate ventilation, and general good housekeeping practices are advised.
Carpet that is maintained in a clean and dry condition does not support or cause mold growth. And it will work wonders when it comes to improving indoor air quality. For more information, contact the Carpet and Rug Institute, (800) 882-8846 or visit their Web site,