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Are wooden floors better for preventing allergies than carpets?

Posted on July 6th, 2012 In: Articles, Hardwood Floors Sanding Articles

Hardwood floors are still the most highly prized and most sought after interior feature for any home, whether it’s an ultra-modern new-build with minimalist design or the rich, deep tones of a more traditional cottage. One of the real selling points for wooden floors is that they are ‘healthier’ than carpeted surfaces – but is that really true? Let’s take a look at the evidence…

Over the last 20 years you cannot have failed to notice the huge increase in the number of people suffering from allergies. Where once it seemed that there was only one kid in the school who suffered from asthma, today 1.1 million children receive treatment for the condition, and terrifyingly three people a day dies from asthma. So be in no doubt – the condition is a killer and one that should be taken very seriously indeed, especially when you consider that 90% of all deaths from asthma are preventable. Furthermore, 42% of people with allergies say that their allergies affect their social life, so allergies do have a major impact on our lives.

Wipe clean verses constant vacuuming

But are they caused by having carpets in the home? Many people believe that carpets trap dust mites, pollen, dust and other allergens in the fibres, and surprisingly enough, that point of view is supported by the carpet industry as well, according to studies published by Carpet-health.org. But their evidence also suggests that the very act of trapping these allergens within the carpets’ fibres meant that there were fewer airborne particulates.

So does that mean that carpets are less likely to aggravate allergic reactions? Well, no. While the particulates may be ‘trapped’ in the fibres of the carpet, they are still present. Keeping a carpet clean enough to ensure that the allergens are kept to an absolute minimum would mean constant vacuuming and cleaning – to put it bluntly it would be almost impossible to ensure that particulates were not released into the atmosphere at some point. In comparison, wooden floors can be wiped clean of nearly all dust particles and allergens, minimising the probability of aggravating someone’s condition.

The modern world – a trigger for asthma?

Some experts are suggesting that our dependence and excessive use of modern cleaning chemicals, many of which contain what are known as ‘volatile organic compounds’, can be directly linked to the increase in incidences of childhood asthma in particular. Carpet cleaners contain these VOCs, and while liberally using cleaners might seem like the right thing to do, there is compelling evidence that suggests VOCs aggravate asthma in particular.

So switching to wooden floors means that you can actively reduce the amount of chemicals you use in your cleaning regime, and consequently reduce the amount of VOCs you are introducing into your environment. It is possible that the modern world and our chemical-soaked lifestyle is responsible for the increase of asthma, and reducing the amount of chemicals we use is not only good for the planet, but could also be good for the long-term health of our loved ones too.

Considering our increasingly busy lifestyles and the fact that the average homeowner does between three and thirteen hours of housework a week (and that consists of ‘running around with the Hoover quickly), keeping a carpet really clean could become a time-consuming exercise. In contrast, a wooden floor only requires the minimum of maintenance to keep it truly clean and free from allergens. While the debate as to whether wooden floors or carpets are ‘healthier’ continues to rage, most people with allergies will tell you anecdotally that their condition is less aggravated in an environment with wooden floors.

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