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Why does carpet cause allergies in some people?

Carpet Allergy Solutions: Carpet Removal, Vacuuming and Cleaning
While you may not enjoy vacuuming as much as this woman, your allergies will certainly thank you.
While you may not enjoy vacuuming as much as this woman, your allergies will certainly thank you.
Digital Vision/Getty Images

You've established that your lovely, cozy carpet is making you sneeze. What can you do, aside from ripping it out and starting over with hardwood floors? Unfortunately, if you have severe allergies, this may be your best and only option, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. If your allergies are less severe, you have a few alternatives to this spartan approach.

First, if you insist on carpet but haven't picked it out yet, do your allergies a favor by choosing one with a short, tight weave rather than long, loose fibers. The shorter the carpet fibers and the more tightly woven they are, the less inviting the carpet will be to allergens and the easier it will be to clean. Alternatively, you can select smaller machine-washable rag rugs or carpet tiles that can be washed in the hot water necessary to kill mites and other allergens.

If you're stuck with your current carpet, you can still try a few remedies to ease the sneeze. You probably already know that vacuuming is a good place to start. But what you may not realize is that there's actually a right and a wrong way to vacuum. Wrong: cursorily going over the carpet a few times a month with the model you inherited from your grandmother. Right: investing in a model with tight connections (to prevent allergens from escaping) and a built-in HEPA filter and vacuuming thoroughly one to two times a week. (A high-efficiency particulate air filter is designed to remove 99.97 percent of airborne particles.) If you have severe allergies, try to hand off vacuum duty to someone who doesn't or wear a dust mask.

Beyond vacuuming your carpet thoroughly and regularly, you should also have it professionally cleaned with either steam cleaning or dry cleaning every six months. Make sure it dries completely afterward so the dampness won't attract mold or mites. Cleaning up any spills promptly will also help to prevent the growth of mold. Another step you can take to reduce carpet allergens is to request that visitors entering your home remove their shoes to keep from bringing in foreign substances.

By following some of these recommendations listed here, you and your neighbors may make it through a meal without constant sniffles and sneezes.

To learn more about carpet and the allergies it may encourage, try some of the links on the next page.