When considering what type of floor covering to put in your home, you need to be extra thoughtful if you suffer from allergies or asthma. Some types of flooring are harder to clean and trap dirt and dust more than others. You want to stick to a floor that you can clean quickly and won't have cravases where dust can settle. The easier a floor is to clean, the better is for allergy sufferers.
If you live in the UK or you can buy UK products easily, you are in luck. Allergy UK gives a 'Seal of Approval' where products are tested scientifically for reducing or removing allergens. A floor receives this approval when it does not house dust mites or allergens. Both flooring and floor coverings including carpeting can receive a Seal of Approval from Allergy UK.
The U.S. does not have a regulating body that examines and tests household products for allergies. That said, even if you are the type of person who is going to keep up with a regular cleaning routine, you still have some things to consider if you suffer from asthma or sneeze when it's dusty. Wall to wall carpeting is not a good choice because it easily traps dust. Even with an annual or semi-annual good steam cleaning, you will still have dust in a carpet. On the other hand, area rugs are ok. If you can get an area rug that you can even stick in an oversized laundry machine - even better. It will be worth taking your carpet to the laundromat.
You probably have heard about dust mites but you may not actually know what they are. They are tiny microscopic insects - so small that you cannot even see them! You can find droppings on things like clothes and carpets. A reason to keep your carpets very clean.
A well maintained, old wood floor or a new wood floor are the perfect choice for allergy sufferers. The reason I say a well maintained old floor is because otherwise you may have cracks and gaps which can lodge a good amount of dust and dirt. You may also have areas where the finish has worn away. Dust can cling to this type of surface far easier than a finished wood floor.
Cork flooring is another good option for people with allergies. The very nature of cork is anti-microbial. It has something in it called suberin. This innate substance reduces the growth of mold, bacteria, and other allergens. This means that dust mites do not want to live on it or in it! Although it is porous, it is very easy to clean.
Laminate floor is not a wood floor but may have the fake wood look. Laminate flooring may be a problem depending on the kind you get. Laminate flooring is not all made equal. They have differing levels of VOCs. They are easy to clean and dust free. If you are going to get a laminate floor, be sure to get one with low VOCs. The same goes for bamboo flooring. It is a terrific floor for allergies but some varieties have high VOCs while others have low ones. If you opt for a bamboo floor, go for one with low VOCs.
Aside from dust, another harmful allergen on floors is mold. Mold can grow anywhere there is water. If you have a wood floor that is constantly getting wet - in a bathroom or a kitchen - this will invite the growth of mold. The dryer you keep your floors, the more you are preventing the growth of mold. Mold can also cause coughing and sneezing!
Another contributing factor to allergies and flooring is your beloved warm-blooded pets. Your dogs and cats play outside and bring in their toys and sticks that they dragged in the dirt. They also shed hair on your floors. Occasionally, they vomit, defecate and urinate on your floors, too. All of these impact allergies and asthma. Be sure to clean up after your pets as they will contribute to your asthma attacks and general allergies.
When it comes to renovations, sanding is always going to create sawdust no way around it! However, when it comes to wood floor finishes, there are a lot of choices. Keep in mind, many of these products emit odors that contribute to allergies. It is best to make sure that you are using a wood floor finish with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs can trigger allergies.
In conclusion, make sure to keep your floors clean. A sealed wood floor without cracks and gaps will not collect dust the same way a carpet will. If you have an area rug, make sure to wash it regularly.