Covid-19 – Can Viruses Spread on Carpets?

At the moment we hear nothing but news after news reports and updates about
COVID-19 coronavirus which has literally gone viral and there are so many questions being asked – and probably way too much panic and misinformation (seriously, even if you have to stay home in quarantine for up to two weeks, you really shouldn’t need 24 jumbo packs of loo roll! Really!!).

OK, we need to start out by saying that we are not doctors or public health officials or anything of that sort. We are professional carpet cleaners and will do our best to inform you by using the information available to us.

Now we’ve got the necessary disclaimer out of the way, time to move on to some of the questions we are currently being asked.

Photo Courtesy of Freepik

Can Viruses Spread on Carpets?

The problem with the COVID-19 coronavirus is that it’s a new one and nobody’s got immunity to it because our immune systems haven’t seen anything quite like it before. This means that it is very infectious. Now, we always ought to be vigilant about not spreading viruses and maintaining good hygiene regarding things we touch anyway; this new virus is just given us a good kick up the backside – reminding us to do the things we ought to have been doing anyway, like wiping down high-touch surfaces, washing our hands more frequently and not repeatedly touching our faces.

The issue is what happens to the virus when it hits a surface. Viruses aren’t the same as bacteria. Bacteria like nice warm porous surfaces like fabric and paper – and that includes carpets. Viruses, on the other hand, prefer hard non-porous surfaces and can live on a suitable surface for quite some time after someone’s sneezed on it or touched it with grubby fingers. In the case of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the current research suggests that it stays active for up to 28 days, but it’s still early days and the researchers are working on this. Another source suggests 24 hours on cardboard and 2–3 days on plastic. However, this information can change by the hour.

Carpets however receive their fair share of viral overloads if people cough or sneeze and don’t cover their mouths properly so that the spray falls onto the fibres. People also bring in things on the bottoms of their shoes if they aren’t in the habit of leaving their shoes at the door.  The virus then has to get into a host – hopefully not you.

In the case of the COVID-19 coronavirus, it enters the human body primarily via the eyes, nose and mouth. This means that to get a virus from the carpet in to one of these entry points, you either have to touch the carpet with your hands and then touch your face (the standard euphemism for picking your nose), or else you have to be face down on the carpet.

Of course, not all carpets are created equal. The carpet in your office has more pairs of feet, more street shoes and more people likely to sneeze over it. Your bedroom carpet is another story. If you take your shoes off at the door, your bedroom carpet will probably not get much in the way of the virus, as you probably don’t have strangers coming into your bedroom and spitting on the floor or licking the carpet or even sneezing.

Photo Courtesy of Freepik

Should You Get Carpets Cleaned to Prevent COVID-19?

The burning question: will cleaning the carpet prevent you from getting the coronavirus? Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to that. If your workplace or your home has become exposed to the virus, you might like to consider deep cleaning the carpets. In fact, a few organisations have recommended that for places like schools where you get kids sitting on carpets and touching their faces and the floors a lot, steam cleaning and disinfecting the carpets can be one of the decontamination measures taken.
Hot Water Extraction Cleaning most commonly known as steam cleaning is the appropriate technique for killing bacteria and viruses that might be lurking in carpets. Other methods, such as bonnet buffing and dry carpet cleaning, don’t quite do the same job. The reason for this is that it’s the super-high temperatures involved in steam cleaning that kill the bacteria and viruses. For your extra protection we are now using anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial carpet and upholstery cleaners in addition to super-hot solution temperatures to help protect you from any potential risks.

Of course, if you have been self-isolating or sitting in quarantine for quite some time, you’ll probably start to notice what your carpets, mats, rugs and upholstery actually look like. One can only binge-watch for so long, even if you love a particular TV series! If you know that you are likely to have to self-isolate and you know your carpets are a bit on the dingy side, then you may want to call in the carpet cleaners beforehand so you don’t have to stay in a house with carpets that get on your nerves for two weeks or whatever the current recommendations are. If you notice your carpets are grotty or if you spilt coffee on the couch while in quarantine, then you probably want to call the professional cleaners in once the quarantine period is over.

Anything Else You Need to Know?

You probably won’t want to call in a professional cleaner every day to steam clean your carpets even if it would give you peace of mind. However, there are a few things you should bear in mind:

• Don’t rub neat alcohol or methylated spirits or even vodka on the carpets, as you could do weird things to the carpet fibres and wreck the carpet (believe me, this has all been done before!)

• Don’t spray your carpet with neat chlorine bleach (if you can get it, that is), as this will strip out the colour and the damage can’t be repaired.

• Soaking the carpet with anything is a bad idea, it will make the carpet moist – and turn it into a great breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, plus the smell will drive you wild.

• Washing your hands properly, covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, and disinfecting your phone will help to protect you!

       Here’s to good health and hoping none of you do come down with Covid-19!


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