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Wool Rugs: 9 Things You Absolutely Need to Know

Last updated on August 17th, 2022

A wool area rug is a perfect piece of decor that ties the whole room together, adding warmth, beauty, and a gorgeous focal point.

A high-quality wool rug can cost a pretty penny, but they’re well worth the investment. Rugs made with 100% wool are durable, versatile, and natural, and they will often feel and look better than synthetics, making them a perfect choice for those who like to invest in their home decor.

There can be a lot of confusion when it comes to wool area rugs. Are they hard to maintain? Do you need to do anything special with them? Are they worth the price? With so many questions, it’s hard to know if a wool rug is for you or what to do with it once you buy it. So, what’s the nitty-gritty of wool rugs?

1. Are Wool Rugs Durable

Wool rugs are incredibly durable. The fibers used are strong and can keep their shape for years, and don’t wear out as quickly as synthetic fibers do. This is not to mean that you can throw down a wool rug anywhere and walk away, ready to enjoy it for years; you still need to take care of your rug in order to keep it in good shape.

Are wool rugs durable
Wool fibers are incredibly strong.

Depending on how it is made, wool rugs are known to last for several decades to centuries. If this is the durability you are looking for, a hand-knotted wool rug is your best option.

2. Are Wool Rugs Safe

Yep, wool rugs actually come with a safety feature! It’s flame-resistant.

This means that it will actually blacken instead of burning up in flame as it does everything possible to extinguish itself. This is one of the very reasons wool is used in carpeting large buildings.

Synthetic fibers don’t come with the same self-extinguishing feature that wool fibers have. So if a wool rug has blends of synthetic fibers, those will not have the same flame-resistant properties.  

Are wool rugs safe
Rugs made from wool come with fire-extinguishing feature.

It can also act as a natural humidifier, releasing humidity when the home is dry and sucking it in when it’s too humid. A pretty neat trick and better looking than a clunky de-humidifier.

It’s not a cure-all for humidity problems in a home, but it can help alleviate some issues before mechanical solutions need to be taken.

If being a natural humidifier isn’t enough, wool actually also gives off heat at the same time it absorbs moisture. The chemical reaction between water and wool fiber is responsible for this, and what we enjoy in return is a toasty warm foot feeling and living even in snowy weather.

A wool rug is also a smart choice for allergy sufferers due to dirt and dust. Static electricity, the culprit that pulls and attracts fine dirt and dust particles, is low thanks to the high internal moisture content of wool.

3. Do Wool Rugs Shed

A wool rug can shed, and the reason has to do with what it is made up of, how it is made, or what type of rug it is.

Blends mixed with natural fibers or shedding-prone synthetic fibers, that is, rugs that aren’t 100% wool, will end up shedding. Because such fibers get rubbed down and break, they end up wearing out quicker than wool and cause little bits of the fibers to come off. This is a common problem for a lot of people as 100% wool rugs are expensive, making blended types an economical solution, even if it does come with a bit of shedding.

Another reason your rug may be shedding is the fact that it is machine-made. These rugs are mass-produced by weaving machines and are inferior in quality when compared to those that are made by hand.

There are several varieties of a handmade wool rug, and the hand-tufted ones are the most vulnerable to shedding compared to both hand-woven and hand-knotted types. This doesn’t come as a surprise since hand-knotted wool rugs, in particular, are more complex and meticulous in making and, therefore, more expensive than hand-tufted types.

Shop hand-knotted wool rugs, up to 25% off

While wool-made hand-tufted rugs won’t shed as much as those with blends, they may still have been made with some low-quality material at the backing and may shed because they can’t handle hard wear and tear.

do wool rugs shed
Hand-knotted rugs are the best types in terms of quality and shedding.

The third reason your beautiful wool rug may be shedding is that it’s a shaggy rug. Shaggy rugs will always shed, no matter how they were made or what they are made of since their fibers are more exposed.

So, what can you do?

  • You can have a fiber protector applied to your rug to prolong its life and stop the shed.
  • You can lightly vacuum or use a carpet sweeper to keep that shedding tolerable.
  • Try moving the rug to another spot with less foot traffic or, better yet, invest in a hand-knotted wool rug for high-traffic areas.
  • You can also invest in a horsehair broom or brush to keep shedding at bay. This allows you to quickly wipe away the little bits easily and early whenever you see a few pop-ups. Well, it’s always rewarding to take care of things early rather than attend to it when it has already worsened.

Remember that a wool rug will shed, but a well-made one will have its shedding stop after a couple of weeks.

4. How to Clean Wool Rugs

Cleaning a wool rug may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. It’s much easier than you think! While you can’t just pop them into the washing machine, you can get rid of dirt and have it looking brighter with just a little bit of time and elbow grease.

Shake out the rug

Take it outside and hang it over a railing and allow the wind to shake out most of the dirt. You can also shake the rug yourself, making sure you get rid of all the debris. You may get a little dusty, though.

Think of the first step as an old grandmother beating rugs with a broom.

Use a vacuum or carpet sweeper

After you’ve loosened the bigger pieces of debris, vacuum to catch anything that may have been missed, taking care not to hit any fringe or the edges of the rug. You want to be careful vacuuming, so you don’t get anything stuck in your vacuum, pull it up and ruin the rug.

Always remember to not over-vacuum the rug, and a good number to not forget is vacuuming your rug not more than twice in a month.

Also, avoid using a vacuum cleaner with a rotating beater brush, and it is best to stick with a canister-style vacuum cleaner.

how to clean wool area rugs

If you have a carpet sweeper, use it instead of a vacuum. This is better to use as it will roll over the rug instead of using suction, which can end up pulling little bits that shouldn’t be pulled. If you don’t, it’s a good idea to invest in one; they’re cheap and will come in handy, making it easier to clean your beautiful rug!

Wash the rug

You can wash the whole rug, and it’s easier than you thought it would be. Get your soft brush, a pail of water, and gentle soap or carpet shampoo ready. You simply need to lather the water, run the soapy water throughout the rug allowing it to reach every single wool fiber, and then just gently brush it. Rinse the rug when done and dry outside by laying it down horizontally.

Before you start, it is imperative not to miss these two important points:

  • Do not use laundry detergents and only opt for a gentle soap (or shampoo) with a near-neutral pH. This is so that the natural moisture and luster of the wool fibers will be preserved.
  • Do not use hot water as it can negatively impact the dyed wool’s colors and its resistance to fading. Ideally, you may want to use lukewarm water (roughly 100 degrees Fahrenheit) for both the washing and the rinsing.
how to wash wool area rugs
Wash wool area rug using lukewarm water and mild soap or shampoo.

Seek professional help

For deep cleaning, it’s always rewarding to let the professionals handle the cleaning for you.

5. How to Remove Stains from Wool Rugs

Wool is a fiber that soaks everything up and can be prone to stains. If you spill anything, remember to clean it up immediately to remedy the situation as you don’t want it to have time to sink into the fibers, soaking it up.

Persistent stains may require some special measures and if that’s the case, here are things you can follow:

Stains from Food and Drinks

Enjoying a red wine or some snacks and juice and spilled a little? If wiping it up quickly isn’t working, you can add a little power to your cleaning.

Start by adding baking soda to the rug once you’ve blotted up as much of the stain as possible. Let that sit for half an hour, soaking up all that it can. Once the timer has gone off, vacuum up the baking soda.

Sometimes, you will just need a little bit of gentle detergent to scrub the stain out (taking care you don’t scrub too hard!), but if it’s a tougher stain, then adding some white vinegar to the soapy mixture (about 1 part vinegar for every 8 parts of water) will help.

Scrub and rinse with clean water, wiping the soap away and then blotting the moisture out of the rug.

how to remove food stains
Baking soda or soapy water with vinegar can help in removing food stains.

Stains from Artificial Products

For stains from artificial products such as paint, makeup, nail polish, perfume, and the like, a rag or cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol is recommended.  Sometimes, such stain may be stubborn, and you might need to let the rag or cotton ball sit on the stained area for several hours.

how to remove artificial stains
Rubbing alcohol may do the trick in removing stains from artificial products.

If you spill something that doesn’t stain, but would often ruin a surface, you’re in luck! Wool rugs are bad for stains, but dirt and debris can be whisked out of the fibers. Simply brush or vacuum up the mess, and spot clean if necessary.

6. How to Protect Wool Rugs from Moths

Keeping your rug in good shape and condition does not only mean maintaining it to be dirt and stain-free. You also need to ensure it’s moth-free as these little buggers can be your wool rug’s most notorious enemy that will take away the pile and beauty of your most cherished rug.

To make moth problems a little grosser, it’s not actually the moths you see flying around lights on a warm summer night that’s causing the problem. It’s the carpet beetles and moths that are specific to woolens.

These moths can lay their eggs on your rug, and things get really problematic once these eggs hatch. A moth’s larvae are the one that causes real damage by munching away on the tasty wool fibers.

how to keep moths away from wool rugs
Antique wool rug with pile eaten away by moth larvae.

 So, what to do?

Maintain Cleanliness

Make sure your rug is kept as clean as it can be and take care of any spills or stains that may have occurred right away. Any trace of food stains, spills, or crumbs always makes the appetite of those irksome larvae more voracious. It’s also a good idea to maintain a regular vacuum or carpet sweeping schedule. Always remember that to moth-proof a rug, keeping everything – the rug and the space it’s in – clean is the most crucial step.

Rotate Regularly

Moths thrive in dark and hidden areas, which can mean the most protected areas of the rug are those that are exposed to light and foot traffic. If your setup features several areas of a rug hidden under furniture, rotating the rug on a regular basis will help ensure the hidden areas experience light and foot traffic too thereby lessening the probability of moth infestation.

Ensure Clean Storage

If you’re planning on storing your wool rug for any reason, make sure it’s properly and thoroughly cleaned before being put away; you don’t want to take it out in months or a years’ time only to find it ruined. Don’t forget to allow it ample time to dry before putting it away. Store your wool rug in a space that will not allow any insects in and won’t allow mildew to form.

Mothballs and Essential Oils

You can place mothballs with your rug when storing them as they prove effective when used in contained spaces as their vapors accumulate into high concentrations. Just be sure to air out the rugs thoroughly before using them again as mothballs contain pesticides that can be harmful to humans. Alternatively, essential oils can be of help but will need to be sprayed frequently to maintain the potency of the smell. This is a good choice for those rugs that are laid out in the room as mothballs are both ineffective and harmful for rugs that are currently in use.

If you have already noticed a problem, remove the rug from its home and clean it. Treat for the pest problem and contact professional cleaners and pest control for tips and if it will need to be remedied by a professional.

7. How Long do Wool Rugs Last

Wool rugs are made to last. Natural materials can outlast synthetic ones, and the same is true for rugs made from organic wool versus rugs that are made from synthetic fibers.

In fact, hand-knotted and hand-woven wool rugs can last for several decades, even longer if properly cared for.

Heard of the ones that are called vintage and antique rugs? These rugs are usually hand-knotted or hand-woven wool oriental rugs that have aged beautifully through the years and are something you can pass down to your children and grandchildren.

how long do wool rugs last
Hand-knotted wool oriental rugs last for several decades to centuries and can be restored.

The price tag for both types of handmade rug is a premium but definitely worth the money.

They carry unique designs that are skillfully made by artisans on traditional looms for several months to a year depending on size.

You are essentially buying not only a rug but a piece of artwork that reflects the tradition and culture of the country and village from which the rug originated.

Shop handmade vintage rugs - unique & 100% all-natural

Synthetic rugs, on the other hand, can only last 2-5 years. Some may be able to last longer, mainly depending on foot traffic and how it’s taken care of, but the same rules apply to the wool rugs: the better you take care of it, the longer it will last.

8. Where Can you Put a Wool Rug

While placing a rug anywhere that doesn’t have high foot traffic is a smart idea for prolonging the rug’s life, wool rugs can be used wherever you want to add some whimsy and beauty even in the busiest areas of your place. And investing in a hand-woven or hand-knotted rug made from 100% wool should do the job.

 Authentic wool oriental rugs, for instance, can look great in any part of your home and can work in high-traffic areas as well because of how they were skillfully made adding durability to an already durable wool material.

where can you put wool area rug
Hand-knotted wool oriental rug can look great anywhere regardless of foot traffic.

From the foyer to the bedroom, a wool rug can look great and can tie everything together in your space.

But know that since wool rugs possess remarkable moisture-wicking property, it may be best not to have them in a bathroom where it is constantly humid. Although, it still steams down to personal preference as placing oriental wool rugs in bathrooms to add some luxurious feel is also a trend.

9. Does Vintage Mean Better

Sometimes, vintage means better made and long-lasting. Sometimes, it also means that you will get a unique piece that speaks to you. When it comes to wool oriental rugs, both can be true.

You can get a one-of-a-kind rug that was made before several synthetics came on the market, allowing you to buy a truly beautiful piece of decor for your home while not sacrificing durability and personality.  

Vintage oriental rugs are almost always guaranteed to be hand-knotted or hand-woven – the type of wool rugs you need to invest in if you plan to keep it for decades to come.

About Turk Rugs

Turk Rugs brings a collection of beautiful vintage rugs that are of hand-knotted and hand-woven types, and made from organic sheep wool and dyed using all-natural (vegetable) dyes. 

Each rug is sourced directly from the villages in Turkey and delivered straight to your doorstep i.e. skip the entire layers of the traditional distribution channels that inflate prices and enjoy lower prices on authentic vintage rugs.

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