Friday, 3rd April 2020
Should I get my carpets cleaned to prevent COVID-19 ? Do viruses spread on carpets ? Is my carpet free from bacteria and viruses ? Is regular vacuuming sufficient to keep my carpets germ free ? Can I check if there are bacteria in my carpets ? How do I disinfect my carpet ? Should I replace my carpets after someone has been sick ?
These, and many more similar questions have recently been flying around, and as cleaning contractors, we had already come across some of them in our daily job. But before we dive into carpet cleaning processes to give answers to some of those questions we must first produce a short disclaimer - we are not doctors, virologists, public health advisors or any officials trying to comment or advise on current events. We are professional carpet cleaners who only aim to be informative to the best of our knowledge and based on the information we have learnt throughout the years in cleaning industry. Let's now get down to answering some questions...shall we ?
Bacteria as opposed to a virus is a living micro-organism with a more complex structure. It can live on its own and readily thrive if it has favourable conditions (oxygen, warmth, moisture, food). These little microbes can merge in larger colonies and would definitely do it inside carpet pile if we neglect regular cleaning and maintenance. Not all bacteria however are harmful, some that live in human body are helpful like the ones which help digest food.
Viruses are smaller and do not have cellular structure like bacteria. In fact, a single virus is basically just a tiny particle capsule that contains a genetic material. They require a host and its live cells to reproduce. They can not "live" independently outside the host organism but, according to different sources, can stay "active" for sometime depending on which surface they are on.
Are carpets free from bacteria and viruses ? Well, germs live everywhere as they can be found in the air, on plants and animals, even on food and the human body, so, there is no reason why those little critters could not try settling down inside our comfy and plushy carpeted floors. In fact, they often do.
According to some studies, a typical carpet may contain 200,000 bacteria per square inch in average. Yes, it sounds frightening but there are some unavoidable factors which surely contribute to this so it becomes so scary. Each person living in our home looses tons of dead skin cells which fall on carpets every day. If we add food crumbs, dust and soil coming off of our shoes and socks to this and the presence of our furry friends which also shed their coats - then the FEAST is ready! Our carpets quickly become a "remarkable environment" nourishing thousands of microbes, with us humans not even knowing, there is a big party going on under our feet.
What about viruses ? Do they get on to carpets at all and how can this happen ?
There is no single answer to that. Viruses can get onto carpets in many different ways - after someone with viral infection sneezed, coughed of touched the carpet with their dirty contaminated hands for example. Another scenario might be that the virus gets dragged indoors on someone's shoes or clothes and then falls on to the floor.
Every so often, as part of our specialist cleaning service, we tackle bodily fluids trapped inside carpets.
Blood, urine or vomit my also contain viruses which can ultimately get onto carpets by accident, and when that happens, those human body fluids should always be treated as infectious, as they can transmit viral illnesses like AIDS or Hepatitis B. But all can be dealt with using appriopriate cleaning methods.
So, Is it possible for bacteria and viruses to spread on carpets ?
Whilst most bacteria on some grubby carpeted flooring can spread and still be alive and kicking after months, viruses without a host are likely to "die" or simply saying, will no longer be viable and capable of infection after some time.
When it comes to the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19) and to how long it remains infectious, it is still too early to say with confidence as the virus is continuously being examined and analyzed by specialists. It is neither precisely clear how the nasty microscopic microbe jumps from one person to another.
Some recent research shows that the Coronavirus can stay active on cardboard for up to 24 hours or on plastic for even 2-3 days. It may also remain "alive" in the airborne droplets from 30 min to 3 hours.
If the carpet in your home has not been directly exposed to anyone who has or might have contracted the Coronavirus, then, technically speaking, the likelihood of the carpet becoming a root cause of you getting COVID-19 disease is probably quite low. Even if your warm and comfy floor covering has not recently been professionally cleaned.
It is more likely that public places, with high traffic areas like corridors or foyers used by the public, or offices would have been much more exposed to the virus. It is probable, that some people would have coughed or sneezed or even touched the carpets unintentionally, for example, after dropping something or while picking it up.
The main question is still however, whether the carpet cleaning can prevent from getting COVID-19. And the answer is that it will help killing bacteria, spores and viruses in the carpets, providing the correct method and solutions are used but definitely will not eliminate other possibilities where the virus can still be contracted by a physical contact with another contaminated item or infected person.
At present, most preferred and recommended method to clean and disinfect carpets is steam cleaning that reaches temperatures 100°C or over, but even a very hot water extraction cleaning where temperatures can reach 65°C or over combined with specially formulated solutions should be sufficient to kill bacteria and spores.
Should you need or are considering giving your carpets a good professional clean that consists of chemical and steam disinfection, you can contact us NOW to see how we can help.