Domestic carpet washing machines may remove mites and allergen along with dirt, but may ultimately result in more mites as the water left at the base of the carpet pile or in the carpet underlay greatly increases humidity, thus encouraging mite numbers and the growth of mould. However, professional carpet washing is usually very efficient at removing the water used and the carpet should be dry out quickly, provided there is good ventilation.
Solvents are sprayed directly on to the carpet or rug to loosen the dirt, which is then removed using a second solution containing ionizers. Optical brighteners and other chemicals such as deodorizers may be added. Dry cleaning kills mites but some people with allergies may find the process has an irritant effect on their symptoms. It may be necessary to stay away during professional cleaning and to air the house well afterwards.
Dry powder solvents are an alternative to wet solvents. These are sprinkled on to lightly dampened carpets and left for a short time to absorb the dirt before being vacuumed off. It can be difficult, even using a powerful vacuum cleaner, to remove all the powder, which may then be left behind to irritate the skin or airways of sensitive individuals.
These aim to kill mites or neutralize mite allergen (so it no longer causes an allergic reaction) but used alone do not reduce allergic symptoms.
Several steam methods kill dust mites, but not all neutralize mite allergen. One newly developed method boils ordinary tapwater (piped water) under pressure to produce very hot steam, which then penetrates deep into the pile to kill mites. There is evidence to show this method denatures mite allergen. As the steam contains very little water, it is sometimes described as “dry" steam. Afterward, the dead mites and allergen are vacuumed away. Steam treatment may be used to treat fabric upholstery and curtains as well, but should be tested on a small area first to make sure the carpet or fabric is not affected by the process.
Fabric-covered furnishings provide the perfect environment for mites and should be replaced with leather or vinyl coverings, which can be wiped down with a damp cloth weekly to remove dust and mites. Being realistic, it is likely that you will have some fabric-covered furnishings, even if only a few scatter cushions (pillows). Ready-made anti-mite barrier covers are available for pillows and bedding, and these can be adapted for sofas (couches) and armchairs.
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