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What lives in your carpet?

You’d probably be shocked to learn that your carpet holds just as much, if not more, strains of bacteria than your toilet. Pete and Rob are joined by Ben Surdi of Pure Clean to talk about just what lives on your floors.

“Your carpet is actually designed as big air filter,” Ben says. “It’s actually meant to catch a lot of allergens and pollutants that float through your home.”

“The bacteria is rampant in your carpet,” Pete adds, and Ben says that most people don’t think about it as much as they should.

Animals can also track in microorganisms.

“People with pets, if you’ve ever had any kind of case of fleas,” says Pete, “you may have flea eggs, larvae, or even flea feces in your carpet.”

Dust mites, another microorganism similar to a flea, can also reside in your plushy floor.

“7,000 dust mites can fit on your thumbnail,” Ben says, “and we find the highest volume of dust mites in your carpet, your bed and your upholstery, because they feed off of dead skin.”

Pete recommends regularly cleaning your carpets. “If you haven’t cleaned your carpets in 6-12 months, you might want to think about doing it.”

The Northwest is also an ideal climate for mold, Pete says.

“There’s always going to be mold spores floating through the air,” says Ben, “and that has to settle somewhere. Usually it’s going to be on your hardwoods or your carpets.”

Ben says there are five different methods of carpet cleaning, but he prefers hot water extraction.

“It’s just a deeper clean,” he says. “When you’re using 230 degrees of hot water extraction, you really flush out those pollutants.”

That type of carpet cleaning, however, can only be obtained professionally. Home hot water heaters usually are set to a maximum temperature of 140 degrees. But Ben says 230 degrees is the ideal temperature to kill bacteria and microorganisms.

“For every 18 degrees above [water] boiling [temperature] you go, your cleaning capabilities double,” says Ben.

Carpet manufacturers recommend cleaning your carpets every 12-18 months to maintain the cosmetic quality of your carpets, but Ben says the EPA recommendation, based on air quality and other considerations, is every 6-12 months. This can also vary based on your home environment – homes with pets or children may want to clean their carpets on a more frequent basis.

To help your carpets stay clean in the meantime, Ben has some recommendations “Use a good walk-off mat,” he says. “Most people either don’t use one or use one just for show.”

He also says you should take off your shoes before walking on carpets, “because you’re bringing all that crap out [on your carpets.]”

Vacuuming can also help maintain the life of your carpet. “Vacuum your carpets at least two times a week,” Ben says, “and your traffic lanes at least three times a week.”

Clean carpets, Ben says, can help alleviate allergies and decrease the incidence of asthma in children.

Home Matters can be heard on KIRO Radio Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Sundays at 6 a.m. Available anytime ON DEMAND at

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