Carpet or no carpet? Timber or tiles? Vacuum or mop? Making decisions about the right flooring for your home can be tricky when you have asthma or allergies.
Some sources say people with asthma and allergies should replace carpet with hard flooring, but this isn’t always the best option.
Carpets can trap allergens in their pile, while hard floors allow the allergens to float around. However, some modern carpets contain products that reduce mould and dust mites, which are common asthma and allergy triggers.
It’s important to consider what the triggers are in your home to make sure you find the most suitable product.
Pile height, backing, and any treatments are important to consider when choosing a carpet. See Sensitive Choice approved carpets here.
- Natural materials include wool, seagrass and sisal. These can soak up moisture, which may encourage mould.
- Seagrass and sisal are promoted as hypo-allergenic, as the plants they come from have anti-microbial properties, but it’s not clear whether these properties exist in the final product.
- Regular vacuuming is essential.
- Cleaning that leaves natural fibre carpets moist isn’t recommended as it may help mould grow.
- Nylon is the most common man-made fibre for carpet.
- Carpets with treatments that destroy fungus and mould, combined with a short pile are a better choice.
- Regular vacuuming is essential, as well as occasional deep cleaning.
Natural hard floor
- Timber is the most well-known natural flooring and is easy to clean.
- Regular cleaning with a vacuum, mop and/or electrostatic cloth keeps it clean, however a damp timber floor may grow mould.
- Cork is another natural option. It doesn’t like mould and is easy to keep clean, but it’s important to consider the glues used as these can emit VOCs.
- Untreated brick, stone and concrete can gather dust, although this is unlikely to create allergens.
- Ceramic and porcelain tiles don’t give off or absorb chemicals, but it’s important to consider the glue and grout.
Man-made hard floor
- Vinyl is a type of plastic. It is usually cheap, tough and easy to keep clean. If burned, it releases toxins.
- Vinyl is easy to clean and can offer low VOC or formaldehyde options
- See Sensitive Choice approved vinyl flooring here.
- Lino is similar to vinyl but it’s made of organic materials and is non-allergenic.
- The cushioning layer under carpets and timber flooring is made of different materials including rubber, latex (releases VOC 4-phenylcyclohexene) felt, jute, cork, and foam.
- Natural fibres may absorb moisture and grow mould.
- Some underlays are treated with an anti-microbial, which guards against mould growth and dust-mite dander.
- Vacuuming doesn’t affect underlay as it won’t work through carpet or timber.
- See Sensitive Choice approved underlay here.
Rugs may be better at trapping dust and other allergens, so we recommend vacuuming them regularly.
Pet dander blows around and is easier to clean off hard floors by vacuuming, mopping, steam cleaning (not on all surfaces) or using an electrostatic cloth.
VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
Natural materials are less likely to emit VOCs, although it’s important to think about all the parts of a product including coatings, glues, and backings. Engineered timber for example, is a laminate that is glued together, and this glue may off-gas VOCs.
Man-made flooring is more likely to emit VOCs, however some low-VOC options are available. Read more about VOCs here.
- Mould – ways to avoid mould in your home
- Dust mites – learn about this common allergen trigger
- Vacuuming – find tips for choosing a vacuum cleaner
Information contained in this brochure is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a doctor.