Institute for Total Carpet Hygiene - News

New research uncovers the dangers lurking in your carpet ITCH

  Research launched today reveals that an average carpet could be harbouring millions of harmful bacteria which, if left unwashed could lead to infections and even food poisoning, says The Institute for Total Carpet Hygiene (ITCH).

The claim comes following independent research undertaken for ITCH by Reading Scientific Services Ltd, which found that along with dust mites, dirt and grit, the average unwashed carpet is a breeding ground for bacteria. Samples analysed by RSSL were taken from people with different lifestyles and different aged carpets, but all regularly dry vacuumed their carpets.

Some of the elements identified in the samples included arthropod insect remains, rodent hair and a larva which was identified as that of a White-Shouldered Moth. The most concerning find was the high levels of bacteria found in two of the samples which could be harmful to health and lead to illness. Pollen grains and cat hair were also identified which can be a real problem for people with asthma and allergies.

Simon Deadman, spokesperson from RSSL comments: “ The findings of this investigation show that the average carpet can contain a wide variety of fibres, dead skin cells, insect body parts, animal hairs, dirt and bacteria. Many people may not be aware just how many of these unpleasant sounding things are present in their carpets, because they can often only be identified under the microscope.”

Simon Lawson, spokesperson from ITCH comments: “With the current interest in cleanliness around the home, it is important to provide the public with information about how they can protect themselves and their families from illness. If parents realised that the levels of bacteria in an unwashed carpet could be harmful to their children, they might think twice about letting them pick up toys and food from the floor.

“It is hard to believe but a neglected carpet can contain up to four times its own weight in dirt. With central heating and insulated windows fitted in the majority of homes, it provides the perfect breeding environment for bacteria, germs and bugs. The carpet of one of the samples was only six months old yet already contained high levels of bacteria.

“We feel it is important to educate people about the hidden health hazards in their home - there can be as much dirt in an unwashed carpet as there is on a pavement and you wouldn’t pick up food if it had been dropped outside. That is why we have created our new website, ITCH cleaning habits which could make an improvement to their overall health.”

In order to keep your house as germ free as possible, it is just as important to regularly wash your carpet as it is to clean your kitchen units – and what better time to start than the annual spring clean.

For those wanting to get further information about carpet cleanliness and to see a copy of the case studies from the research and images of its findings, please visit There you will find useful hints and tips on creating a cleaner living environment, and you can test your own hygiene skills with the on-line questionnaire. There are a number of myths about washing your carpet which are untrue and are answered on the website.

Case study one summary

The living room carpet in the average family home, with two children and a cat, had fragments of insects and high levels of rod-shaped bacteria present. These high levels of bacteria can cause a number of infections, including stomach upsets and food poisoning.

Case study two summary

Old carpet in utility room with access to garden in a professional couple’s home. They have one cat and the findings include a high level of cat and rodent hair and insect remains. A larva was also found which was identified as a White Shouldered Moth. This sample also contained twice the mass of solid material compared to the other samples as a result of the transfer of dirt from outside.

Case study three summary

A sample was taken from the new living room carpet. The home belongs to a single young professional. Research identified high levels of rod-shaped bacteria and a large number of squamous cells considered to be skin cells. A single insect fragment was also found.

Are you a concealer or a slob around the home?

When it comes to carpet cleanliness, a new survey commissioned by the Institute for Total Carpet Hygiene (ITCH) has revealed some interesting statistics about people’s hygiene habits around the home.

Key findings from the research include:

  • Nine out of 10 people admit to eating food which has been dropped on the carpet, of which 40% follow the 15 second rule (as long as the food doesn’t sit on the floor for longer than that period of time)
  • 70% of people questioned admitting to moving furniture around to cover a stain or mark on their carpet
  • 82% of people have never washed their carpet
  • 62% of people would be persuaded to wash their carpet if they were told that bugs, germs and grime were present
  • 68% of people regularly vacuumed their carpet twice a week and keep their home in perfect order
  • 45% of people don’t take off their shoes before walking on their carpet
  • 38% of people have a carpet which is more than 5 years old

The shocking results have helped to categorise people according to their cleaning habits, are you a ‘house proud’, a ‘concealer’ or a ‘slob’?

 ‘House prouds’

If you identify with Bree Van De Kamp from Desperate Housewives or Monica from Friends, then this is the category for you. You won’t stand for any mess around the home and often follow your guests around with cleaning apparatus in case they spill anything on the floor. You describe yourself as a perfectionist but your friends say you are a cleaning obsessive. 38% of people questioned were ‘house prouds’.

‘The concealer’

Resembling the Battersby family from Coronation Street, the ‘concealer’ will cover stains or marks made on a carpet by moving furniture to hide the evidence. You give the carpet the once over now and again but don’t really think about the hygiene factor enough. You do make an effort though now and again when you are trying to make a good impression. More than 47% of people questioned were ‘concealers’.

‘The slobs’

This category fits people you have probably seen starring on Kim and Aggy’s ‘How Clean is Your House’. You are not bothered about carpets being clean and are happy to eat the food after it has been dropped on the floor – even with added fluff. 15% of people asked admitting to being ‘the slobs’.