Volatile Organic Compounds in Your Home

When to clean air ducts

Every six to twelve months, you should have your carpet cleaned by a professional carpet cleaning company, to get rid of embedded dust, dirt, and crumbs. Pet stain removal can also be similarly scheduled. In the meantime, regular vacuuming is essential, but not just for keeping your carpets looking and smelling nice. Vacuuming your carpets two or three times a week will help reduce the buildup of what are known as “volatile organic compounds”, which can affect more than just the condition of your carpets… they can affect the health of your family as well.

A volatile organic compound is any organic compound that can evaporate under normal indoor conditions and temperatures. Symptoms of exposure can include nausea, irritated eyes and nose, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and loss of short term memory. The most common sources of VOCs are paints, paint thinners, stains, varnishes, aerosol sprays, and fuels such as kerosene and gasoline. But VOCs can also be exuded in small amounts over time by certain plastics and synthetic fibers. That is where your carpets come into the picture.

Carpets can contribute to the buildup of VOCs in two ways. First of all, new carpet can itself be a source of VOCs, due to the synthetic fibers present. If you are having new carpet installed, request that the installer air the carpet out at a different location for at least 72 hours prior to installation, to dissipate as many VOCs as possible.

Second, carpets can act as traps for VOCs from other sources. This is initially a benefit of carpets, as they hold and contain VOCs that would otherwise be airborne. But without proper vacuuming, the levels can become saturated, once again allowing any VOCs to remain in your air.

Professional carpet cleaning companies and professional stain removal specialists will often use a dry cleaning solution to clean your carpets. This process is great for the carpet, and a thorough way to remove embedded dust and dirt, but the dry cleaning chemicals can also result in elevated levels of VOCs. It may seem like overkill, but after every professional carpet cleaning, give your carpets a quick vacuum, to ensure your carpets are not just clean, but healthy as well, and vacuum two to three times a week to help keep them that way.

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