Predecessors to wall-to-wall carpet have been around for thousands of years. Large woven rugs were often hung from the walls of homes as a means of decoration and insulation. A castle with hanging tapestries is what comes to my mind. Some area rugs were used on floors, but they were never attached as carpet is today. They were swept and periodically taken outside and beaten to release their dirt. Today, wall-to-wall carpet has become standard. It’s hard to find a home without it! When my family ordered our manufactured home, the salesman was very surprised when we ordered linoleum throughout. He had never had any customer order a house with absolutely no carpet.
Americans take carpet for granted in homes today, but it only began to be mass produced in large quantities after World War II. After the war, attention was put toward technological advances making new tufted carpets possible. People were more than happy to fill their homes with luxury items that were not available to them during the war years. At the same time people were installing their carpet, they were also purchasing their first electric stoves. They didn’t need or want that messy wood cookstove anymore! Of course next on the list was a brand new vacuum from a nice door to door salesman. A whole new era of comfort and convenience had arrived.
In 1951, 6 million square yards of wall to wall carpeting was sold in America. By 1968, the amount had jumped to 400 million yards. Something happened to America in that time. I believe that this statistic has a story to tell about how Americans moved inside and forgot how to work in the great outdoors, growing their own food and raising their own animals.
So, you may be asking why is it so bad to be comfortable? It’s not. The problem with carpet arises when you try to go back in time to what I consider to be a normal life, to try to be self-sufficient and live off the land. To learn how to be a producer instead of a consumer. My entire family spends a large amount of time outside in all the seasons. This means dirt, mud and snow get tracked in multiple times a day. We have animals and my husband takes care of them on a daily basis, so sheep poop periodically ends up on the floor. We use wood in our wood stove to heat our home. When the wood comes into the house, so do dirt and wood chips. In the spring and summer, pollen and dust come in through the open windows. My kids are not occupied with electronic devices, so their play time is often spent with things like crafts and playdough. The floor gets messy. It’s a fact of life.
At the end of every day, I get out my broom and sweep up a full dustpan of dirt and debris. (In the case of animal poop and playdough, I don’t wait until the end of the day!) Without the use of a vacuum, wall-to-wall carpeting would be a nightmare for me as the mess would be ground into the fibers more and more everyday. If I still haven’t convinced you, here’s a few pretty yucky statistics about carpet:
- Early Hoover vacuum cleaners were hard to sell because potential customers refused to believe (and were even insulted by the suggestion) that they could have that much dirt in their carpets.
- Carpet cleaning recommendations say that you should vacuum the high traffic areas of your carpet every day! Do people actually do that? Even the cleanest homes probably only get vacuumed once or twice a week.
- Outdoor air contains pollens, fungus, bacteria, air pollution, cigarette smoke, car exhaust and hundreds of other chemicals. We carry those things on our clothing, shoes, skin and hair. We bring them with us when we enter our homes. All those chemicals, pollens and bacteria wind up in your carpet because of gravity.
- Indoor pollutants include animal hair, dander, dead skin, and dust mites. Even in calm indoor air, they all settle by gravity into the carpet.
- A person sheds about 1.5 million skin flakes an hour, most of which become embedded in our carpets. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments, eating dead skin cells and nesting in dust-collecting carpet. The residue that mites leave behind can mix with dust and become airborne, which may cause allergies.
- Each year, several pounds of soil can accumulate in and under a carpet.
- Microbiologists have identified air blown from a running vacuum cleaner as one of the five places in the home that has the highest number of germs. Other places include dish sponges, washing machines, bathroom toilets during a flush, and kitchen trash cans.
- The Norwalk virus or Norovirus (the virus that causes the stomach flu) can survive on an uncleaned carpet for a month or more.
- Studies report that mice have dropped dead after breathing some new carpet fumes. Would you want those chemicals in your home?
- Wall-to-wall carpeting is less healthy than smaller rugs because carpet tends to be more permanent and harder to clean. It absorbs moisture, chemicals, liquids, crumbs, and other spills that provide molds, mildew, yeasts, and bacteria (such as e-coli) with a rich and nearly continuous supply of nutrients.
So, there it is. Carpet is completely impractical and even a health hazard when living a self-sufficient lifestyle and especially living without electricity. I believe that removing it should be on every prepper’s to do list. I love my easy to care for linoleum floors! I realize that there are other more durable flooring options available. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is easy to care for. I can sweep my house in about 15 minutes and spot clean my floor with a wet rag. Simple! It’s the easiest flooring that I have ever had.