Our focus should be on Autumn cleaning, not Spring cleaning’ says Dr Lisa Ackerley
‘Perfect indoor storm’ of falling night time temperatures, central heating being turned up and windows closed with inadequate vacuuming make Autumn the perfect time for carpets to become a microcosm of potentially harmful microbes and dust-mite allergens.
Autumn turns our carpets into ‘bonsai tropical rainforests where bacteria flourish’
Bosch floorcare declares Autumn ‘Vacuinox’ on September 25th to mark the start of the recommended Autumn cleaning
Samples taken from carpets and analysed have found significant yet invisible microbial growth that could lead to health problems. The investigation, carried out for Bosch Floorcare by leading public health expert Dr Lisa Ackerley found significant levels of microbes and moulds in carpets that looked clean to the naked eye.
In a sample of UK homes she found:
- Sections of carpet beneath a teenagers’ bed that were coated in Enterobacteriaceae (800,000 per gram of dust) growing in faecal matter and food debris.
- Very high levels of bacteria (10million per gram), plus yeasts and moulds. (The residents of one home, a couple in their 60s, were both long-term suffers of Asthma and secondary lung conditions.
- Very high levels of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria which can lead to skin and wound infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and bacteraemia (blood stream infection) and is commonly linked to food poisoning.
Dr Lisa Ackerley, visiting professor of environmental health from the University of Salford said: “As the weather gets cooler, people switch on their central heating and shut the windows, reducing ventilation and creating an increasingly moist environment - the domestic equivalent of bonsai tropical rainforests; skin flakes, dust, dirt, food crumbs and anything that has come in the house from pets and shoes gets trapped in the carpet and other soft furnishings. These are the perfect conditions for bacteria and dust mites to flourish. With that in mind, thorough vacuuming is essential to minimise health risks.”
She added: “What is crucial is that we don’t take cleanliness at face value. It is essential that we use well-maintained vacuum cleaners and that we use models with strong suction that can remove debris from the ‘forest floor’. Moreover, cleaning under sofas and tables is really important. In my view, doing this at this this time of the year is far more important that the traditional Spring Clean which has far less importance from a health perspective.”
“What concerned me most was that even though carpets appeared clean at first glance, a huge amount of dirt, bacteria and moulds was removed from them. The issue here is the power of the vacuum cleaner and the diligence of the user. It’s really important that we’re not fooled by appearances and that we vacuum thoroughly.”
The idea of Spring Cleaning has its origins in seasonal and religious festivals. Over the centuries, the Spring Clean has become the default occasion for carrying out a comprehensive clean of the house, but Dr Ackerley contends that Autumn is a far more important time – but having said that she recommends regular cleaning all through the year to keep dust, dirt and microbes at bay.
Bosch floorcare has developed a range of corded and cordless vacuum cleaners that are powerful and portable enough to clean anywhere in the home. Bagged and bagless models have integrated HEPA filters and suction capabilities to reach deep into the carpet pile. Some run on rechargeable lithium iron batteries and offer the same super-suction as a 2400 watt corded cleaner, enabling households to to get right down to the bottom of the carpets’ pile and remove all the dirt, dust and organic matter that creates the perfect breeding conditions for bacteria and bugs. The Bosch Athlet model weighs a mere 3kg, making it easy to use on stairs and manoeuvre in difficult to reach places.
Dr Ackerley said: “It really is vital that instead of cleaning around things and leaving the stairs that we ensure that all parts of our living rooms, halls and stairs are comprehensively cleaned. Getting down deep into the pile of the carpet is the only way to keep our carpets truly safe and clean.”
Novia Imm, Bosch Floorcare expert said: “For years I’ve been focused on doing my comprehensive clean in the Spring. This research shows that Autumn is an even more important time for cleaning. With Christmas just around the corner, removing all the grime from our carpets is a great idea and should help to reduce one potential cause of seasonal illness. I’ve been amazed at what Dr Ackerley has discovered.”
The tradition of spring cleaning is thought to have originated in Iran as a preparation for Nowruz, the Persian New Year which falls on the first day of spring. As part of the preparations, households are cleaned in a ritual called khaneh takani (“shaking the house”).