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Originally published Monday, March 7, 2011 at 7:02 PM

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Interiors: Carpet cleaning a must for healthy air

Carpets act as a filter that holds soil, dust mites, pollen, debris and other contaminants.

Scripps Howard News Service

Like all things in the home, carpets need cleaning. Yes, vacuuming often helps keep the carpet clean, but it also needs a more thorough, perhaps professional cleaning on a regular basis. Twice a year is ideal, particularly if you have children and/or pets. Once a year is the absolute minimum.

Did you know that indoor air quality is usually 10 to 100 times worse than outdoor air quality? Getting the carpet professionally cleaned not only helps the appearance of the rug, but it is beneficial to our health as well.

Carpets act as a filter that holds soil, dust mites, pollen, debris and other contaminants. Vacuuming helps pull up a good amount of that stuff, but not all.

A dirty carpet is the ideal place for bacteria and germs to multiply and grow. Sounds like a horror film, but think about it: Doctors tell us that dirt and dust are the primary causes of most allergies. Over time, the contaminants will build up — and you can imagine what all that will do to your health as you daily breathe in those nasty microorganisms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also recognizes the effect of unhealthy indoor air and the link it has with carpet cleaning.

Routine maintenance of your carpet not only helps to keep indoor air clean, it also extends the life of the carpet.

While waiting in between professional cleanings, be sure to change the filter in your vacuum often.

On a side note, if you are selling your home, be sure to have the carpet professionally cleaned before that first open house. A dirty carpet can turn buyers off, and if there are pet, smoke or other odors in the carpet, many a buyer will walk out before viewing the rest of the house.

Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of "Mystery of Color."For design inquiries, write to Rosemary at DsgnQuest@aol.com.

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