The carpets on our floors are a perfect environment for collecting dust mites and other common household allergens. Dust, pollen, dirt, crumbs, and other debris fall onto the floor and are caught in the fibers of the carpet. Since dust mites feed on shed human skin (a major component of household dust) carpeting provides a banquet table set for a feast for dust mites. As people walk on the carpet, they stir up the settled bits of allergen, causing them to become air-borne. Once air-borne, they are easily inhaled and trigger an allergic reaction.
Most advice for setting up an allergen proof room includes the removal of all carpeting and rugs. The reason for this advice is that it is impossible to clean carpet. You can certainly pay companies to clean your carpets, you can rent a carpet cleaning machine and do it yourself, you can buy one of hundreds of carpet cleaning products, but none of these really cleans the carpet. It is true that any of these methods of carpet cleaning; will remove some of the soil and make the carpets look cleaner. But the carpet will not be clean and the allergens will not be removed or neutralized. You can think of it this way, suppose you took a heavy sweater or shirt (with lots of thick fibers) and threw it down on the floor and walked on it for 6 months. It would get pretty dirty, right? Then suppose you splashed the dirty shirt/sweater with some warm soapy water and then vacuumed the water out with a wet vacuum extraction system. Do you think that sweater would be clean? Of course not, and neither are your carpets after using any of the numerous methods of carpet cleaning. This is why people with allergies or asthma are told to get rid of carpet.
But what if you live in a situation that prohibits the removal of the carpet? If you live in a rental or are not in a financial position to replace the carpet with hard flooring then you need an alternative. That alternative is to focus on the allergens in the carpet and target their destruction.
Allergy is caused by a defect in the human immune system whereby harmless bits of benign proteins are mis-identified and the immune system is called into action when it is not necessary. Stopping the allergic reaction depends on stopping the exposure to the allergy causing protein. In the case of dust mites and carpets, the dust mites and their feces contain a protein (Der f1 in the US and Der p1 in Europe) that collects in the carpets. Since we have already established that you can’t clean the carpet to remove this protein another approach must be taken.
Luckily, proteins can be denatured (or deactivated) by the use of extreme heat, acids, or alkalis. Once the protein has been denatured, it will not cause the allergic reaction. The protein remains, but its structure has changed. This is exactly what happens when you cook an egg white. The white starts out as a liquid made up of about 40 different proteins, when you apply heat the amino acids that make up the proteins change structures and make new bonds. To our eyes, the eggs looks cooked but what has really happened is that the protein has been denatured.
It is not practical to apply such extreme temperatures directly to carpet. The temperature required to denature the proteins would destroy the carpet. So that leaves acids and alkalis in our tool box.
X-Mite Anti-Allergen Carpet Cleaning Treatment Powder made by Alkaline Laboratories harnesses the power of the acids in tannins to denature the allergy causing proteins. Tannic acid is found in woods like oak, mahogany, and redwood. It is also found in tea. Alkaline Labs uses a patented process to convert this into a 3% tanacetane formulation which is highly effective in denaturing proteins from animals, molds, pollens and dust mites. They combine this denaturing agent with a water-based solution of surfactants that also absorbs some soil. The result with X-Mite anti-allergen powder is that the proteins are denatured and thereby made harmless and some soil is removed making the carpets appear cleaner.
To use X-Mite anti-allergen carpet cleaning treatment powder, you sprinkle the moist powder on the carpet. Because it is not a fine, dry powder it comes out in clumps which need to be swept into the carpet with a broom. This also causes the active agents to be worked further into the fibers, allowing for more effective denaturing action. After about 3 hours, the carpets are vacuumed to remove the powder and absorbed soil. It is not necessary to move furniture and treat under furniture.
The manufacturer recommends that you always test their product on a small hidden area of the carpet before you use it. The concern is that any prior chemicals or cleaners that you have used might interact with the tanacetane and cause a reaction that might stain or discolor the carpet.
I am fortunate that I have been able to remove all the carpeting from my home. It certainly has made a difference in the control of my allergies. However, until I was able to remove the carpets, X-Mite anti-allergen dust mite carpet powder was an important part of my allergy control regimen in my home.