Although the majority of pest infestations occur in residential settings, commercial buildings and facilities are not immune to invasion. Dust mites, ants, ticks and fleas are just some of the more common pests that can infiltrate every aspect of a structure — from floor to ceiling.

Fortunately, carpeting itself does not attract insects and bugs. Rather soil, food, and organic matter that works its way into the carpet acts as a food source for these pests. By eliminating their food source, custodians can greatly reduce their chance for survival, which is why consistent carpet cleaning is vital to prevent and control pest populations.

“Most carpeting is made of nylon, so intrinsically it doesn’t support living things,” notes Allen Rathey, president of The Healthy Facilities Institute, Boise, Idaho. “However when it gets soiled and loaded up with skin flakes and food particles, it becomes a smorgasbord for germs.”

Dust mites, for instance, feed on sloughed off skin cells and thrive in damp environments.

“Regular carpet cleaning will lower the food supply,” says Rathey. “Also try to keep the relative humidity below 50 percent if you can, and make sure carpets dry quickly.”

Lew Migliore, president of LGM & Associates, Dalton, Ga., recommends paying careful attention to areas where food is prepared, stored and consumed.

“In a typical office environment, everyone eats in their cubicle, and there’s food everywhere,” he says. “It’s important that you keep that stuff off the floor so bugs can’t get to it, and contain it in the work space.”

While prevention is better than cure, facilities that find they have a pest problem should first contact a pest control company.

“You can’t really say about any pest that you can eliminate them just by cleaning,” says Kevin Pearson, president of Pearson Carpet Care, Humble, Texas. “You can eliminate the food source, which will help get rid of them, but you’re not going to magically suck them all out of the building with a vortex vacuum.”

KASSANDRA KANIA is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C.

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