Healthy living * Allergies and hay fever

UV light doubles a vacuum cleaner's ability to remove carpet bugs

UV light can double a vacuum cleaner s ability to remove carpet bugs Potential for revolutionary new products

Household carpets are notorious for being the source for all sorts of nasties, such as allergens, chemicals and microbes.

Regular cleaning is a boring but vital part of living with carpets, with the humble vacuum cleaner the main weapon in the fight to keep them clean.

Now new research has demonstrated that the addition of Ultra-Violet (UV) light to a household vacuum cleaner could double its effectiveness at removing potentially harmful microbes from the carpet.

UV-C light with a wavelength of 253.7 nanometers has been studied extensively for its disinfection properties in water, air, food and on a variety of surfaces. This is the first study of its effects on carpet surfaces.

UV carpet cleaner

Scientists at Ohio State University evaluated the cleaning power of a commercially available upright vacuum cleaner, both on its own and in combination with a lamp that emits germ-killing UV light.

A number of carpet sections from different types of location were analysed. Each section was cleaned with and without UV. Samples were then taken from the carpet sections and transferred to specially designed contact plates which were sent to a laboratory for incubation over a 24 hour period.


Overall, vacuuming alone reduced microbes by 78 percent, UV-C light alone produced a 60 percent reduction in microbes, and the combination of beater-bar vacuuming and UV-C light reduced microbes on the carpet surfaces by 87 percent - a reasonable improvement.

But when looking at the microbe quantities, the researchers found that, on average, vacuuming alone removed 7.3 colony-forming units of microbes per contact plate and the UV-C light removed 6.6 colony-forming units per plate. The combination of UV-C light and vacuuming yielded the largest reduction in colony-forming units: 13 per plate.

Commenting on these results, study leader Timothy Buckley said: "We concluded that the combined UV-C-equipped vacuum produced approximately the sum of the individual effects, and therefore the UV-C was responsible for an approximate doubling of the vacuum cleaner's effectiveness in reducing the surface-bound microbial load."

The scientists believe that a cleaner could be manufactured to include the UV light at commercially viable prices, which could prove of benefit in the home: "The best next step would be to test this UV-C vacuum technology in some environments that are high risk, where we could sample for specific pathogens," Buckley said.

"The home environment would be particularly important, because that's where people spend the lion's share of their time and are likely to be in close contact with carpet."

This article was published on Wed 3 November 2010

Image © Andrey Sukhachev -

Related Stories

Use this story

Link to this page
Printer friendly version

Share this page