If you’ve gone to purchase a new core household technology product or appliance — washing machine, TV, dishwasher – you’ve probably noticed that with each iteration comes a whole lot of fancy upgrades. It’s faster! It’s smaller! You can login to social media while operating it! And while the fancy bells and whistles can be appealing, one question really remains: do these features make it a better product, and does it make life easier for you?
That brings us to one of those very core products that most of us have in our homes: a vacuum cleaner. At first glance, if one were presented with the choice to buy a standard vacuum cleaner or one with a double-sealed HEPA filter, it might be tempting to go with the standard model, which might also be somewhat cheaper. But if you or someone in your family suffers from allergies, asthma or some other breathing difficulty, the quality of the air in your home really does matter. And choosing a vacuum that’s outfitted with a HEPA filter can make a huge difference in the quality of life inside your home.
According to a 2009 report by the CDC, 1 in 12 people had asthma. That’s about 25 million people, or 8% of the population. And approximately 50 million Americans suffer from nasal allergies. Both sets of these people, then, can be greatly impacted by the quality of the air they’re breathing. And in a home, one of the biggest traps for pollutants is in upholstered items and carpeting. Dust, dust mites, pet dander, pollen, dirt, bacteria and other contaminants can become lodged in soft, porous surfaces and recirculate through the air, causing trouble for anyone who’s allergic.
According to WebMD, “Using a HEPA filter in your home can remove most airborne particles that might make allergies worse. But the particles suspended in air are not the only ones in your home. There are far more in your rugs, bedding, and drapes, and resting on countertops and tabletops. So it’s important to keep these areas clean.”
Additionally, dust mites are a huge issue for people with allergies and asthma, as their waste contains an allergen many people are allergic to. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) explains that dust mites are the most common cause of allergy from house dust. “Dust mites live and multiply easily in warm, humid places. They prefer temperatures at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit with 75 to 80% humidity. They die when the humidity falls below 50%, [and] they’re not usually found in dry climates. Dust mite particles are often found in pillows, mattresses, carpeting and upholstered furniture. They float into the air when anyone vacuums, walks on a carpet or disturbs bedding and they settle once the disturbance is over.”
Because of this, vacuuming your upholstered items, rugs and carpeting on a regular basis can go a long way in helping take many of these allergens out of your carpet, rugs and bedding if the vacuum itself has a filter in place. Without a filter, many of the particles vacuumed off of a surface can then blow back out into the air, which both hinders your overall cleaning efforts and causes a problem for anyone with allergies and asthma.
And as far as filters go, a vacuum which features a HEPA filter is your best bet. To qualify as HEPA by US government standards, an air filter must remove (from the air that passes through) 99.97% of particles that have a size of 0.3 micron. So having a vacuum that features a HEPA filter is a good thing. Having a vacuum that features two sealed HEPA filters is a great thing. This makes it almost impossible for debris and contaminants removed from your carpeting and upholstery to escape and reenter your indoor space. This means cleaner surfaces and noticeably better indoor air quality.