Carpet experts recommend a professional cleaning every 12-18 months. Dirty carpets can result in health risks like mold, allergen and dust mites, but can clean carpets create health risks for your pets?
In a study released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Working Group, researchers discovered that pets like cats and dogs can become contaminated even more severely than humans by synthetic industrial chemicals used in carpet cleaning.
The study examined 40 cats and 20 dogs, and each animal was already contaminated with 48 out of the 70 industrial chemicals the study was testing. The levels of contamination were significantly higher than the average human contamination levels found in other studies performed by the EWG and CDC.
This is likely because pets spend so much time laying on the floor and furniture, closer to rugs and upholstery and exposed regularly to the chemical cleaning products used to maintain them. They may inhale these chemicals or lick them off their paws and fur. These chemicals can also be unhealthy for small children and parents of children who spend a lot of time playing on the floor, exposed to the same chemicals.
These effects don’t go away, either. In fact, they often concentrate in the body and combine to create more severe effects. This can be especially dangerous for pets, who have much shorter lifespans than their human counterparts. The study leads researchers to believe that high cancer rates in dogs and extremely high hyperthyroidism rates in cats are likely caused by chemical exposure rather than genetic changes.
Steam cleaning is much safer for pets, since it only uses steamed hot water to clean carpets. It may also be a good idea to resist stain-resistant treatments that involve heavy chemicals and pollutants.
Pet owners can also wipe up spills as soon as they happen to gain time between cleanings, especially since set-in stains may require dangerous chemicals to remove.
If home owners suspect that chemicals may already be too set in, they may consider replacing carpets with wood floors and area rugs, which are much easier to clean and maintain without heavy chemicals.