New babies are fragile, and many parents worry that the chemicals and toxins found in common household objects will hurt the baby. If you have carpet in your home, it is likely that your child will be exposed to toxins found in the carpet. You can reduce your child’s exposure, though, by following some basic steps. When you get rid of as many toxins as possible, you will feel better about letting your child play on the floor as she grows.
Purchase new carpet. Old carpet harbors mold, and older carpets often contain chemicals that have been recently banned. Older carpets also have years of accumulated bacteria and dust mites that are brought in on feet and shoes. After you complete a home improvement project, such as painting, those chemicals stay in the carpet, too, long after the project is through. A carpet with a Green Label Plus Certification will have fewer chemicals. You can also search for a carpet that is made of natural materials, such as wool and hemp.
Air out new carpet in the sun for a few days before installing. Off-gassing refers to the evaporation of toxic chemicals in non-metallic objects, such as carpets or mattresses. Your carpet will off-gas chemicals for years after it is installed. To prevent this, air the new carpet out in direct sunlight. The direct heat will help speed up off-gassing and get rid of more toxins before you bring the carpet inside.
Apply a carpet sealing product. These liquids are usually water based and claim to seal in chemicals so that they cannot off-gas. After steaming the carpets, apply the carpet seal.
Clean carpets weekly with a HEPA vacuum cleaner. Typical vacuum cleaners do not have appropriate seals, so they can leak toxins back into the environment. A HEPA filter will help kill bacteria and remove dust mites.
Use an air filter for continued protection. If you can, have it run it for several months before the baby is born, and make sure you use it in the baby’s room.
Tips & Warnings
- If you can, consider installing hardwood or laminate instead, as they will contain fewer toxins and harbor less bacteria and mold than carpets.
- Decorate the nursery as early in your pregnancy as you can. That way, the new carpet will have time to off-gas before the baby arrives. Keep the windows of the nursery open as much as possible to encourage off-gassing before the baby is born.
- Place a doormat near your door so that you can wipe your feet off before entering, and have everyone who enters the home remove their shoes.
- Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images