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28 Carpet Facts and Statistics

Updated
Carpets might be soft and cozy, but they could also be toxic.

There’s more to carpet than just being soft and cozy. Carpets might be cute, but there are some pretty astounding things you should know.

We’re going to expose 28 carpet facts and statistics. Some of these facts might be surprising, some may be gross, and some may shed light on life-changing hacks.

Ready to learn more about what’s lurking beneath the carpet? Let’s go.


Top 10 Carpet Facts and Statistics

  1. You must clean your carpets professionally twice a year to minimize debris, dust, and moisture buildup.
  2. Beware of powder deodorizers. They can clog your vacuum and also linger in your carpets. The next time you wash your carpets, the powder will thicken up, and it can leave behind stubborn stains.
  3. There are probably bugs in your carpets. Carpet beetles love the soft, cozy ground. They can lay up to 100 eggs within the carpet, perpetuating the problem.
  4. Viruses, like Norovirus, can live in your carpet for up to six weeks, becoming airborne every time someone walks across it.
  5. Carpets off-gas volatile organic compounds(VOCs). This gas can cause headaches, nausea, asthma, and dizziness.
  6. New carpets can make you sick since the carpet, adhesive, and padding can contain VOCs. You know that new carpet smell? It’s not actually made from anything pleasant; it’s the smell of chemicals.
  7. Stain-resistant carpets are unsafe. They contain fluorinated chemicals, which are especially harmful to babies and toddlers.
  8. The carpet cleaning industry is worth six billion dollars.
  9. Carpets dominate forty-eight percent of the US flooring market.
  10. Original carpets were hand-loomed by talented weavers. Nowadays, carpets are usually tufted by machines.

Carpet Cleaning Facts

First, we’ll look into some fun facts and warnings about carpet cleaning. This will include some information about the importance of cleaning, as well as some hacks and tips for cleaning your carpet.

Keep in mind that these also count as rug facts and statistics — so remember these even if you only have area rugs.

  1. Clean carpets twice a year: We recommend that you get your carpets cleaned professionally twice a year. Another option is to rent or buy a carpet cleaning machine, such as the Bissell SpotClean Pro. These machines can pull out nasties from your carpet, leaving it fresh and hygienic.
  2. Don’t leave moisture behind: If you’re cleaning the carpets yourself, be aware that many carpet cleaning machines leave a lot of water behind. This leaves the carpet in ideal conditions for mold and mildew to grow. We recommend hiring a professional if you’re unsure whether your machine pulls out excess water.
  3. You should vacuum regularly: You must vacuum your carpets at least weekly to remove dust, debris, and dirt. But remember that vacuuming doesn’t deep clean your carpets, as it doesn’t reach the deeply embedded particles.
  4. What to look for when hiring: If hiring a company to clean your carpets, keep in mind that the industry isn’t regulated. We recommend looking for companies certified by the International Institute for Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IIRC). These employees have training within the carpet cleaning industry, so you know you’ll get a more reliable service.
  5. Wool carpets might smell like a wet dog: If you’ve opted for a wool carpet, be aware that after you’ve cleaned it, it can smell foul, like a wet dog. This occurs because of the natural sulfur in the wool. Don’t fret too much — this smell will disappear when the carpet dries.
  6. Beware of powder deodorizers: You might have heard of powder deodorizers or even the baking soda hack, where you sprinkle it all over the carpets before vacuuming them. Unfortunately, this can cause more harm than good. Not only can it clog your vacuum, but it can cause other problems. When you next wash your carpet, the moisture can thicken the powder residue and leave a stubborn stain behind.
  7. You can steam clean carpets: Steam cleaning is a great way to freshen up and sanitize your carpets. This method can also kill fleas and tackle light stains. Just be aware that it can leave behind moisture and damage particular carpets.

Gross Facts About Carpets

If you need some motivation to clean your carpets — here we go. We have a few disgusting carpet facts and stats.

What’s really lurking in there? Warning: it’s kind of shocking.

  1. There are probably bugs in your carpet: Little pests like to live in carpets, especially carpet beetles. These beetles love soft materials like wool, fur, and felt. The female beetles can lay up to 100 eggs within the carpet, making the problem multiply quickly (1).
  2. Your carpet acts like a filter: What are filters good at? That’s right — trapping pollutants. A carpet is excellent at capturing chemicals, tars, pollen, bacteria, and other nasties. But unlike a filter,
  3. Viruses and bacteria can live for weeks in carpet: Many bacteria can live on your carpet (2). In fact, it can survive for weeks. Bacterial pneumonia germs can live for up to six weeks in synthetic carpet fibers, becoming airborne every time someone walks across the carpet.
  4. The five-second rule doesn’t count: We’ve all used the five-second rule before, but now that you know viruses and bacteria can live in carpets for weeks, you might think again. Some of these viruses are dangerous to ingest, such as Salmonella, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
  5. Your carpet is full of dead skin: We shed, on average, 500 million skin cells daily (3). Those skin cells have to go somewhere, usually down to the ground or, in many cases, your carpet. You might think your carpet looks clean, but it’s actually very dirty.
  6. Carpets harbor mold and mildew: Since carpets like to cling to moisture, they quickly become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. It’s tough to remove moisture on a carpet — even if it’s bone dry on the surface. With mold and mildew hiding within your carpet, it could make you and your family quite sick.
  7. There’s a lot of dirt and soil in your carpet: If you need another reason to hire a professional carpet cleaner, here it goes. Your carpet can hold up to one pound of dirt per square meter. Yuck!

Toxic Carpet Symptoms

Carpets can be toxic. Whether that’s from years of dirt underneath them, mold, or the materials used to make the carpet — we have to be careful. Here are some facts about symptoms you may experience with toxic carpets.

  1. Carpets can off-gas: Over time, a carpet can emit substances and chemicals within the fibers (4). The chemicals within the carpet get released into the environment, particularly volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Symptoms include headaches, nausea, asthma, and sometimes dizziness.
  2. Carpets cling to toxic gasses: Even if you’re super careful with your carpet and clean it regularly, the fibers can still cling to toxic airborne gases (5). These pollutants settle into the fibers, making their way into the room from our shoes or an open window. Other things, like pet dander, lead, mold, and dust, can also settle in the fibers and cause unpleasant symptoms.
  3. New carpets can make you sick: Many carpet installation materials can make us sick. When you get a new carpet installed, the adhesive, carpet material, and padding can contain VOCs.You may notice a strong odor, or you might even be coughing and wheezing. If you have a little one, it may be particularly prominent to them.
  4. The most common symptoms: You may enjoy the smell when you get a new carpet installed. But note that the smell is actually VOCs, particularly formaldehyde. The main symptoms this aroma can cause include nasal and eye irritation, asthma symptoms, worsened allergies, and even neurological effects.
  5. Stain-resistant carpets are unsafe: California has found that stain-resistant carpets contain fluorinated chemicals, known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). They found that such carpets are the number one way to spread PFAS in homes, which is especially harmful to babies and toddlers. The state wants carpet manufacturers to consider non-toxic and safer alternatives (6).
  6. Older carpets aren’t safe either: New carpets are getting a lot of stick here, but old carpets aren’t necessarily safe either. If you bought a property with 30-year-old carpets, you might want to take them out. They can contain toxic chemicals such as VOCs and phthalates, too. If the carpet is flame retardant or waterproof, this is usually done through a toxic process that coats the carpet in a durable but nasty coating.
  7. Carpet backings are dangerous: Besides the carpet fibers, the backing is to blame, too. Carpet backing is usually made from synthetic rubber, which can cause respiratory irritation, even after little exposure (7). At higher exposure, there’s the possibility of nerve damage, cancer, and heart disease. Higher exposure involves people working in factories that manufacture styrene, for example.

Top Tip

When you buy a carpet, you can request that it be aired for 72 hours before installation to air out any fumes. We also recommend leaving home while the carpet is being installed. Another hack is to request that they use non-toxic glues and adhesives.

Carpet Industry Facts

Although carpet isn’t the most hygienic or safe floor covering option, the industry still brings in a ton of money. Let’s look at some of the industry facts and trends.

  1. Carpet cleaning industry size: The carpet cleaning industry in the US is worth six billion dollars (8). There are over 34,000 carpet cleaning businesses with 63,000 employees. The two biggest companies are Stanley Steemer International and Blackman Mooring Services.
  2. The industry has grown rapidly: In the last five years, the carpet cleaning industry has grown 3.8 percent annually on average. This is due mainly to the pandemic highlighting the importance of cleanliness and good hygiene.
  3. Carpet leads the US flooring market: Forty-eight percent of the US flooring market is dominated by carpets. Despite all the gross facts, it’s still a popular flooring choice.
  4. Georgia runs the American carpet industry: Of the top 20 carpet brands in America, nine are in Georgia (9). Over 85 percent of US carpets are made in Georgia, bringing in eight billion dollars. In fact, Georgia is responsible for nearly half of the global carpet and rug sales.
  5. Carpet market size: As of 2018, the global market was worth 51.9 billion dollars (10). By 2026, it’s expected to be 73.9 billion dollars.
  6. Some new trends to watch: Some factors that will make the carpet industry more competitive include the desire for sustainable carpets. Customers also want antimicrobial carpets, LED-embedded fibers, and anti-allergic carpets.
  7. From handloom to tufting: The original carpets were made by talented weavers who used handlooms. Nowadays, carpets are tufted by machines. While it’s still a tedious task, carpets aren’t handmade with love anymore.

Best Carpets for Indoor Air Quality

If we haven’t scared you away from carpets forever and you still want carpets for their cozy luxurious ambiance, choose a non-toxic carpet. They won’t mess with your air quality too much.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Look for the Green Label Plus logo: If a carpet has this logo, it has lower VOC levels. This is a great starting place, but it only refers to the carpet — not the backing.
  • Avoid flame retardants and other additives: Most toxic elements come from things added to your carpet. Avoid carpets with flame retardants, mothproofing, antimicrobial filters, stain repellents, anti-static treatment, phthalates, and fly ash.
  • Look for these elements: Look for a carpet that isn’t treated. Undyed or organic dye is best. If you’re going for synthetic polyester, make sure it’s polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT), which is safer.
  • Avoid synthetic carpets: You may want to steer clear of polyester, nylon, or polypropylene carpets. They are manufactured from synthetic materials, automatically making them less eco-friendly.
  • Go for natural fibers: Since you should avoid synthetic carpets, what’s better? Carpets made from wool, organic cotton, jute, bamboo, sisal, seagrass, or coir are better for your air quality.
    Seagrass and sisal carpets can also maintain healthy humidity levels in your home while preventing static. These natural materials use little to no pesticides or fertilizers to grow.
  • Choose natural backings: Consider rug pads that are made from natural fibers. Options here include natural wool, natural rubber, or natural latex backings. Natural backings will reduce VOC emissions in your home. Check that the carpet backings meet Air Quality Assurance standards.

FAQs

When was the Carpet Invented?

A very long time ago! We’re talking possibly 3,000 B.C.

The first carpets were made from sheep wool or goat hair to make flooring more comfortable.

We have evidence of a carpet in the year 500 B.C. It was found in a Scythian Prince’s tomb in Siberia.

In America, the carpet industry began in 1791 with the first carpet mill launched by William P. Sprague. He made carpets for the Senate and George Washington’s home.

How Do Carpets Affect the Environment?

Carpets aren’t great for the environment. The biggest issue is disposing of the carpet. Each year, around five billion pounds of carpeting ends up in landfills (11). It takes hundreds of years for carpets to degrade.

The other issue is that most carpeting is still made from plastic (12). In commercial settings, almost 100 percent of carpeting is made from plastic. That’s why choosing natural fibers like wool is essential.

Another issue is, of course, the VOCs the carpet emits. Most carpets are treated with anti-stain or flame retardant treatments made from toxic chemicals. When this off-gasses into the air, it reduces the air quality around you.

That’s why we recommend checking for the Green Label Plus logo, which ensures that the carpet has lower VOCs. It also meets California’s Indoor Air Quality Programme, which is the best in the country.

Environment Hack

If you want to choose a carpet but also want to consider the environmental impact, then choose a durable carpet. This is the best thing you can do to ensure that your carpet doesn’t end up in a landfill a few years down the line.

Are Carpets Losing Popularity?

The carpet industry is still growing worldwide, but it’s not the most popular flooring type (13).

Homes with hardwood floors sell for more. Buyers and real estate agents prefer a home with hardwood floors. It’s also much longer lasting; a hardwood floor can last over 50 years when maintained.

On the other hand, carpet is much more affordable than hardwood which is why many people opt for it. It’s also cozier, so it might be preferable if you live in a cold area.

Overall, carpet is still quite popular for bedrooms, but it’s losing its dominance in living spaces. And it’s definitely out of style in bathrooms and kitchens (thankfully)!

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!