Do bacteria and other dangers lurk in your carpets?

Most of us vacuum our carpets to clean up a mess or freshen their look.  But carpets can actually collect mold spores and allergens, and in some cases can be reservoirs of bacteria or viruses – so cleaning them serves an important health function.  You’d be surprised at what might be lurking between carpet fibers, especially if you don’t vacuum often or schedule regular professional carpet cleanings. According to, Norovirus, Salmonella, and Campylobacte can all collect in your carpets.  Norovirus, also known as the Norwalk Virus, can cause the stomach flu and other digestive problems.  It is able to survive on carpet fibers for four to six weeks, and can become airborne each time someone walks on the carpet. Most of us have heard of Salmonella, and think of it as a food-borne illness.  Salmonella is a pathogen that can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, and is especially dangerous to young children and elderly adults. Although we associate it most often with contaminated food, Salmonella can be tracked into your home – and carpets – on the bottom of shoes.  One study showed that 15 of 55 (27.2%) of vacuum cleaner bags from households with occupational exposure to Salmonella enterica were positive for the virus, as were 1 of 24 (4.2%) in households without known exposure.  Occupational exposure includes carpeting in such places as cattle farms with known salmonellosis in cattle, a salmonella research laboratory, or a veterinary clinic seeing an outbreak of salmonellosis.  This is one good reason you should never eat food that falls on the floor, in your home or at any other location. The bacteria Campylobacter is found most often in winter, and can show up especially in damp carpets.  It can cause an illness called campylobacteriosis, which is especially dangerous to people with compromised immune systems. Bacteria, like mold, thrives in moist environments, which means that floors and carpets that have experienced flood damage are especially at risk for exposure.  According to a recent article in the Sioux City Journal, river water, in the case of flooding, is comparable to bacteria-laden sewage water – so any porous floor covering touched by river water should be replaced.  Floor coverings affected by groundwater seepage might be salvageable – carpets affected by groundwater can be dried and cleaned, although wet padding should be replaced.  The article recommends working with a certified restoration contractor to handle bacteria, mold, and other damage caused by flooding. In these cases, COIT is able to provide the services you need.  Our Water Damage Restoration Services include:

  • Emergency response water removal 
  • Structural drying including walls, ceilings, cavities, crawl space and floors 
  • Drying of carpets, upholstery, drapery 
  • Cleaning and sealing contaminated ducting 
  • Final cleaning per regular COIT services 
  • Mold remediation as it relates to emergency response 
  • Additional services as they reflect our core competencies 

COIT restoration specialists have hands on water damage restoration experience, and use specialized tools and equipment. As important as it is to be vigilant about combating certain types of bacteria in carpeting, it’s important to remember that we don’t have to be over-zealous about bacteria in general.  The National Information Program on Antibiotics notes that bacteria are among the most abundant organisms on earth, and not all bacteria are harmful.  Our bodies, in fact, are full of bacteria that usually don’t cause us any harm.  We simply have to be careful about introducing harmful bacteria to our home environment, where they can be transferred, unknowingly, into our bodies and cause health problems.  That’s where regular home vacuuming and scheduled professional cleanings come in. Whether you’re concerned about bacteria, viruses, mold, or simple dirt, it’s important to maintain your carpeting. We’d be happy to schedule your next appointment, and to become a regular part of your home cleaning regimen. Contact us at 1-800-FOR-COIT, or through the Contact page on this website.  We look forward to hearing from you. 

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