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What’s Eating Your Carpet?

You may think that your carpets and rugs are OK. You vacuum them from time to time. But what is really going on under the surface?

The truth is that your carpeting is a living, breathing thing, often in ways that are bad for you and for your household. David Attenborough could get a whole series about what can be found within these fibres. Let’s take a look at some of the usual suspects.

Carpet beetles

These nasty little pests come in a variety of types.

Varied Carpet Beetle is about 3 mm in length and it can be a serious household pest. Its larvae damage not just carpets but also attack furniture, furs and other clothing, and blankets.

Black carpet beetle feeds on the keratin that is found in animal hair and feathers. So it loves to find pet-owning families.

Brown carpet beetle has spread relatively recently from Africa to many parts of Europe including Great Britain. Its scientific name is Attagenus smirnovi, which has given rise to the jokey title of  ‘the Vodka beetle’ – but it is no joke in your home because it likes to devour carpets and furs.

There are others too, but these are probably enough to be going on with…

Moths

Moths

The culprits here are the webbing moth and the casemaking moth larvae.

In common with black carpet beetles, these moths too love keratin: so unless you are scrupulous about removing dog and cat hairs, you are creating a great feeding ground for them. By the time that they actually become moths, the damage has been done because like the beetles, it is the larvae that do the chewing.

Moth larvae love especially to feed on wool, their gourmet dish of choice. They will not turn their noses up at natural/ synthetic fibre blends but they do draw the line at pure synthetics. They also tend not to consume cotton.

You may be tempted, but please don’t use mothballs in an attempt to control them: the fumes are bad for you, they infuse into the carpet and make it smell bad, and they don’t work anyway.
Fleas
In particularly bad cases, you may see these little creatures jumping around in the dusty air when the sunlight streams in.

Pets may bring the intruders in – but they soon become permanent squatters in your carpet, and ones that are hard to remove without them creeping back again.

Once embedded in carpeting, flea larvae are very difficult to kill. You need to be very vigorous and sustained in your attack – or call in the cavalry, in the form of BM Cleaning Services.
Dust Mites

House Dust Mite

These hardy creatures may be tiny, only 0.4mm long, but they have dirty habits – in its 10-week life span, a dust mite produces some 2,000 faecal particles and even more partially digested dust particles, covered in its enzymes. And where do they get their food? From us, as we shed skin.

These deposits are huge generators of allergies including wheezing, and asthma. Unfortunately, the mites and their deposits are so small that regular vacuum cleaner filters do not catch them – they shoot through, float around in the air and are re-deposited on the carpet. Hot water cleaning, as practised by BM Cleaning Services, is far more effective.

Other pollutants
Inside your home you may feel safer than outside, but at the microscopic level it can be the reverse. You are breathing relatively trapped air, and it interacts with your carpeting.

Taking your shoes off as you enter the house is a practice that should be more widely adopted. Otherwise you walk in a host of dirt particles, as well as sharp sand and grit particles that actually erode your carpet fabric over time.

Other imports come from pets, and from the oily deposits found in any kitchen floor.

It certainly helps when you vacuum, but it has been estimated that you only catch 15% or so of the offending materials that make your carpet look dirty and potentially harm your health (or that of your staff, in an office).

There comes a point when the poor carpet, which has actually been doing a good job for you in terms of trapping and filtering polluting items, reaches capacity and releases them. That is why you need to stay on top of the problem by calling in professional carpet cleaners on a regular and frequent basis.

Ben Martin
BM Cleaning Services provides domestic cleaning and commercial cleaning services in Edinburgh
Ben Martin
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