Ask any allergist, and they’ll tell you: rugs and carpets are magnets for allergens like dust mites, pet dander, mold spores and other triggers.

Allergens are substances that provoke allergic reactions such as sneezing, coughing and wheezing in people with hypersensitive immune systems. Not everyone, however, wants to live in a home with bare floors, so how do you cope with allergies and carpets at the same time? For starters, buy the right type of rugs.

What Are the Best Rugs and Carpets for Allergy Sufferers?

When it comes to rugs and carpets, synthetic is better for allergy sufferers. Luckily, most fibers used in mass-produced rugs and carpets today are manmade materials like polyester and nylon. These synthetic blends are constructed out of lab-developed fibers that repel allergens, largely because they are nonorganic and offer an inhospitable climate for microscopic life forms like dust mites and mold. Nylon is the most effective allergy-controlling carpet fiber, while wool (which IS a good host for allergy-causing life forms) is the least optimal. Also be sure to choose carpets with tightly woven strands for the same reason.

Look for rugs and carpets that have been treated with special chemicals to neutralize or repel offending particles. Carpet labeled “low VOC” (volatile organic compound) is good: it limits the use of substances such as formaldehyde and benzene, which can “off-gas” over time and affect indoor air quality and exacerbate allergies. Also, remember to ask about allergy-reducing carpet pads.

Clean the Carpets Regularly

Even with manmade materials, some allergens will get trapped, so it’s important to get rid of them. Be sure to vacuum regularly, shampoo, and/or steam-clean carpets. Use a deep-cleaning vacuum or invest in a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which traps allergens. (Some vacuums are even equipped with them.)

Use a Professional

The best mode for cleaning your whole carpet to reduce allergens is getting it vapor steamed, which heats the water to 221 degrees, destroying allergens and bacteria in the carpet. It’s necessary to do this frequently, as mold can begin to grow again very quickly.

Hire a professional company like Connecticut-based Always Clean to clean the carpets at least twice a year to keep them fresh, extend their lives, and protect their beauty. Located in Essex, Always Clean services customers in New London, Middlesex, and New Haven counties. Call 203-868-9814 for an estimate.