When you’ve got allergies in the house, you need to take extra care when choosing textiles, as certain types can exacerbate symptoms. With this in mind, Nick Acaster, Managing Director of Rugs Direct, is here to explain how best to deal with allergens in your rug, and which fabrics are best.
If your kids have allergies, you’ve probably noticed that their symptoms increase when they’re around rugs, carpets, and curtains made from certain textiles. These furnishings can often trap particles that cause these symptoms, whether that’s pollen, mould, dust, pet dander or other potentially harmful microorganisms. When disturbed, these harmful particles can be released into the air and begin causing problems.
These particles are almost invisible to the human eye and can be easily inhaled without knowing about it, leading to asthma and allergy symptoms, including a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and difficulty in breathing. Allergies are not something that many people think about when choosing a rug. But, if your kids do have allergies, it’s important to understand how different textiles may trap particles and make symptoms worse.
Dust is one of the biggest causes of household allergies, and soft furnishings can harbour a surprising amount of the stuff. Trapped dust can stick to the fibres within a rug and, when they get disturbed, they are released into the atmosphere. Shaggier rugs are worse for this, as their thick, layered fabric can trap many more dust particles. If you think dust is the issue, the best solution is to clean your rugs regularly. Vacuuming them a couple of times a week and washing them at home every couple of months should do the trick.
Depending on the type of pollen allergy, your child will experience symptoms at different times of the year. Generally, tree pollen is released in spring, grass pollen in summer, and weed pollen in autumn. As plants release pollen into the air, it finds its way into our homes via windows and doors, and our bodies via the nose and throat. Much like dust, pollen can become trapped in your rug and cause similar problems when disturbed. Keeping your windows closed at the right time of year will help the problem, and regular cleaning will also do wonders. For tiny pollen particles, a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter vacuum cleaner is recommended.
Pets are our best friends, but they can be a nightmare for allergy or asthma sufferers. Your cat or dog will shed its dander throughout your home as it rubs on furnishings around the house. This combination of dead skin cells and hair can trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions in some children. Keeping your pets off your rug can prevent the build-up of dander, but this might not be practical. Regular brushing can also help to alleviate the problem, and if there’s a particular rug your pet likes to spend time on, you’ll have to give it extra attention when it comes to washing and vacuuming.
Another common allergy that can often be overlooked in rugs is latex. Many rugs use latex as a base material, as it prevents them from sliding on the floor. Latex reactions can be much more severe than dust or pollen, with symptoms including a rash, swelling, and the typical allergy symptoms. Unfortunately, cleaning can’t help you much with this one — but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a rug. Instead, look for one that has a plastic or rubber backing.
So, what rug is best?
If you already own your rug, the preventative measures listed above should help keep those allergies at bay. But, if you’re looking for something new, you want to minimise the problem from the outset. Synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester are by far the best choice for allergy sufferers, as these materials naturally repel allergens. Nylon is resistant to mildew, while polyester is resistant to staining. Constructed out of lab-developed fibres, synthetic textiles are nonorganic and offer an inhospitable environment for many allergens.
It’s also wise to think about the density of the rug, as this will determine how hard it is to get rid of potential irritants. Thick, layered materials such as wool are a poor choice if your kids have allergies, so light, synthetic options are your best bet.
Please note: While the tips listed above can help to reduce the symptoms of your children’s allergies, they should not act as a substitute for medical care. If you are in any doubt, or if their ailments persist, please contact your doctor.
When it comes to dealing with allergies in children, it makes sense to think about how each aspect of your home plays a role. Follow this guide and you’ll be able to make sure rugs aren’t a problem.