I don't mean to make a hypochondriac out of you, but if you knew half of the things that existed in your carpet you would think twice about eating that dropped piece of bread. Here we will look at the things that lurk in our carpets and what they can do to our health if we don't deal with them – you might just start to see your carpet in a whole different light.
The Problem With Carpet and Dust
The problem with carpet is that it is made of lots of small fibers that all point upwards. This is what gives it that springy feeling and what makes it so comfortable to lie on, and it's what makes it such a good insulator (these gaps trap oxygen which in turn keeps us warm). However at the same time, these fibers also make it difficult for our vacuum cleaners to get to them, as they mean that dust and other things can 'fall down' into them. That's why just vacuuming isn't really enough to pick them up, and why our carpets start to look faded and dull over time (that and other effects such as staining and bleaching from the sun).
So this is why our carpet is so full of dust even after we've just been round cleaning, but dust isn't all that bad is it? Well actually the answer is 'probably yes' and you see 'dust' is made up of all kinds of other little things. A lot of dust for instance comes off of you and is made up of dead skin cells and flaky bits of scalp. Some dust is actually tiny hairs and even spot heads and other unpleasant biological waste. If you consider that every cell in your body is replaced after 10 years, then this should be an indicator of just how much of yourself you shed while you're moving around. And of course if you have guests and friends round then they're all going to do the same thing meaning that your carpet is ultimately covered in lots of little bits of skin and hair. Nice.
Then there's all the crumbs we drop, which among other things come off of our food. You might wipe up the bits you see, but you aren't going to get all of it and that then means that it will sit on your floor for days, weeks or months and get trampled in where it will go moldy and contribute to an unclean smell. This will attract more bugs and insects and result in more problems. And contributing further to the general mess of course is the actual dirt and even microscopic manure sometimes that gets trampled into our carpet when people don't take their shoes off.
Bacteria and Bugs
Dust is also created by tiny insects and bugs which you really can't completely avoid getting into your home, and that means that cobwebs, faeces and even carcasses get added to the mess on your floor. If you have a few spiders and a few flies in your home then they're going to poo quiet a lot – and that's going to end up on your floors.
And more to the point, you obviously would probably rather not have the bugs in the first place and the messier your home gets the more mites, fleas and bacteria you will get crawling around your carpet. Bacteria in particular is a real problem and is impossible to eradicate. Every time someone coughs or sneezes in your home, the vast majority of their saliva and phlegm particles are going on your floor and this can contain all sorts of unwanted bacteria. Other bacteria meanwhile can come off of their skin alone, and this includes the serious staphylococcus bacteria which leads to various serious skin infections. One in three healthy adults contain this bacteria on their skin and it can survive in your carpet for a long time, so if someone has had a lie down on the floor recently then there's probably a one in three chance that the carpet could contain that bacteria.
The solution is not to panic and turn into Niles Crane from Frasier. A little bit of bacteria in our system is actually good for us to keep our immune system on its toes and keep us resilient. However what we can do is to just take a few precautions and make an effort to reduce the problem as much as possible. For instance, you should make sure to vacuum often so that the dust and dirt doesn't get a chance to make it to the bottom of the carpet fibers. Meanwhile you should also get a professional carpet cleaning service from time to time, or purchase a carpet cleaner of your own. Recognize that the 'ten second rule' doesn't really apply and that food dropped on the floor should be thrown away, and make certain you wash your hands before meals. Finally, if you have any areas of particular concern, then you should consider getting a rug that's machine washable or even opting for a wooden floor instead which is actually a lot more hygienic.