Wool Rugs

Wool area rugs come in a variety of styles, not just cut loop. You can buy woven wool rugs, braided wool rugs, and hand-tufted wool rugs too. Though New Zealand wool rugs have a good reputation, you can find quality from other areas too. Wool rugs have a reputation for being easily stained, but cleaning wool rugs is easier than their reputation would let you understand.

Most of us think of wool for sweaters and hand knot mittens, but for high quality flooring, wool rugs and wool area rugs are great for your home and office. It’s a durable and beautiful floor covering that enhances the charm of your home.

As with any other wool, the material is shorn from lambs and goats and then processed into strands. Historically, these pieces were spun together by hand on a spinning wheel until there was a long enough piece to weave or knit with. Today, machines are taking over that job, but the essence is still the same.
Why you should buy wool rugs:

  • long lasting durability, naturally elastic
  • water-resistant, fire-resistant
  • resists static and softens noise
  • sustainable resource

Why you might not buy wool area rugs:

  • more expensive than synthetic fibers

You already know that wool is versatile, ranging in uses from clothing to coats, so it can be safely said that wool rugs can stand up to most challenges. Wool area rugs have been known to last twenty to thirty years when they’re woven by a machine, while hand tufted wool rugs can last up to sixty years. Not only do wool rugs last long, but also their appearance remains as new as when you first bought it, if you take proper care of it.

Wool rugs
Just like other natural materials, wool rugs create an atmosphere that does not support static buildup. And the thick texture and weave is perfect for noisy areas. You may notice that wool carpeting is used in concert halls and airports where noise levels can be overwhelming. Wool rugs help to dampen noise.
And also like other natural fibers, wool is able to be harvested and then re-grown on the animal. If we continue to take care of sheep and goats, then the supply will not become depleted. This is an ideal material for a sustainable environment. And the long life of braided wool rugs also guarantees you won’t need to keep re-buying them.

The inherent structure of wool creates a safe material. The scales and natural lanolin on the outside of the wool fibers creates a liquid-resistant surface. Even if you do spill something on wool rugs, it takes a some time before it sinks in and stains. Thus, cleaning your wool rug just takes a little blotting. For a deeper clean, you will need to vacuum the wool rugs weekly and be sure to remove any stains as soon as they occur.
Having wool area rugs is also in investment in your safety. The material does catch fire, but it doesn’t support the flame. Instead, it will go out once wet or suffocated. You may notice that firefighters wear wool — that’s why.

While it’s true that wool rugs and New Zealand wool rugs cost more than artificial floor coverings, when you look at the length of their life, you’ll see that over time, a wool rug purchase brings you out ahead.
Another thing to note is that wool is a porous material and can trap stains if they are not treated quickly. The best advice is to gently and immediately blot at a stain with something absorbent and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions for removing any resulting stain. The sooner you clean anything up, the better.
So wool isn’t just for keeping you warm in the cold winter months; wool flooring and wool area rugs makes great covers for the floors of your home, and they will both last for a long time and help keep your home warmer as well.

18 thoughts on “Wool Rugs”

  1. I recently bought a beautiful wool/silk rug made in Tibet. It was originally priced at $2000, but I got it on clearance at a great price.
    Within a week or ten days of owning it, I noticed that an area about six inches wide (forming a straight-edged band extending from the edge to a little passed the middle of the rug) had faded to a lighter shade of purple than rest of the rug, in the exact area where the sun was bouncing off the base of the window frame, through two layers of purple sheers, onto the rug in the late morning. It was cloudy on many of the first seven to ten days I had the rug, so clearly this was the result of but a few–maybe even of only one!–days’ sun.
    Needless to say, I was quite shocked that this could happen so fast, after having had another wool rug in a south-facing living room for several years that suffered barely-noticeable sun-damage. Is this just a case of a poor dye job? Should a well-made rug suffer discoloration from the sun so quickly?
    In order to protect the rest of the rug, I have started laying down a thick cotton sheet folded in two over the area that gets hit by the sun–will this protect the rug from further damage by the sun’s rays, or is there a chance that they will go through the cotton and discolor the rug further?
    Any suggestions on what I can do in this unfortunate situation would be greatly appreciated!

  2. That’s a shame you have had the problem at all, much less so quickly. Did you buy the rug in Tibet or from a rug dealer in your area?
    Frankly, it doesn’t sound like sun fading to me. Sun fading tends to take longer than that, and not be quite so precise in its “work”.
    My hunch is the rug is made of imperfect dye lot threads so there isn’t anything you can do about that. I’d call a rug cleaning/treating specialist in your area, if you have on available, and see what they can suggest.
    If you bought the rug locally, I’d take it back and exchange it or get your money back. If it was directly from Tibet I don’t see there’s anything you can do on that front.
    I’m thinking either trying to fade the entire carpet to the same color and then fix all of the colors, or trying to die that strip to better blend with the rest of the rug.
    Let me know what you do so others can learn from your experience.

  3. Hi,
    Thank you for your comments. I understand how it’s hard to believe that this could have happened in only a few days–believe me, I was shocked too, since, being aware of the minor sun damage to my other rug, I took the precaution of keeping my blinds in a position where the sun was not coming “down through them.” What I discovered, however, was that the sun *was* getting in somehow at the very bottom of the blinds, perhaps being reflected by the glass or the blinds somehow (and thereby magnifying the sun’s intensity?). It was definitely caused by the sun though, since it occurred on the only spot the sun was hitting, and it definitely wasn’t like this when I purchased it.
    I could try taking it back, but I got it on clearance so I highly doubt they would take it back (it may be the case that it was reduced because of this tendency to fade rapidly, of course). Also, even with the present imperfection, it still “makes the room,” and I think it would be very unlikely for me to find another rug in a color so well-suited to my living room as this at such a good price.
    Fortunately, the rug seems to hold the impress of footprints, etc. for a while, and it is possible to disguise to some extent the now-lighter area with a bit of creative “hand-brushing of the fibers there. Not perfect by any means, but somewhat better for when there is company (which isn’t all that often).
    I am wary of both further sun-bleaching and dyeing solutions, for fear of making the situation worse. (I’ve seen too many things go wrong with attempts to dye clothes and linens in my life to have any faith in the process–especially when such a valuable item is involved.)
    The rug, by the way, was made in Tibet, but purchased locally. Anyway, I’m sure glad I didn’t pay the original price (or even a quarter of that!) knowing what I now know about its “ease of sun bleaching.”

  4. I understand not wanting to return the rug and not wanting to try “fixing” it.
    What I was trying to say earlier, but don’t think I was succinct, is what you have landed on. It’s very hard to imagine the sun doing that much damage that quickly, but I’ve seen weirder things happen. I suppose the sun is magnified by being reflected off the blinds, but it seems you have found the problem. I have a wool rug in a south facing room and it’s fading evenly, making it appear to not be fading at all.
    If you are content to play with the fibers as part of the disguise then it seems that’s your best shot now. You can ask the store about the problem. It seems to me that if the dealer is reputable they should honor the flaw. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll find the same rug to replace it with, nor find one that won’t have the same problem.
    Thanks for the update.

  5. Just thought I’d post re my somewhat “happy ending” to this rug story. I decided to turn the rug around 180 degrees the other day to put the faded band into a position that would be somewhat less noticeable from my usual seated spot. Surprise, surprise! Not only did the entire rug immediately take on a much darker, richer appearance when viewed from the usual looking-towards-the-window angle (it’s a purple rug with a black spiral pattern through it, but looked much closer to a dusty rose with a gray pattern the way I originally had it), but now the fading is all but unnoticeable–the most you can really make out if you look carefully are the “lines” defining the outermost edges of the faded area (the interior of which no longer looks faded), but these, if even noticed, might just be assumed, by the visitor to my home, to be slight imperfections resulting from the manufacturing process.
    I should add that the reason I made no effort to return the rug was because it was (on clearance) from the previous season’s collection and therefore it would have been highly unlikely that they would have had any more in stock. A friend to whom I mentioned the damage said that it was probably a case of the dyes used having been improperly or insufficiently fixed, and I think the intensity of the reflected sunlight then wreaked havoc upon the rug with a predisposition towards fading.
    I am now taking no chances: I cover up the rug religiously each night with a large cloth before retiring. Owning this rug is like owning a rare, vintage model car!

  6. Thanks for updating us on your saga. So two of us think the problem comes from the dye lot — making it so. ;~)
    You have also given me a good lesson; I’d thought to suggest turning the rug around but didn’t say anything. Next time, I’ll speak up. Glad you thought of that and acted on it.
    Take care of that vintage rug. It sounds beautiful and special.

  7. I recently removed an expensive wool rug from a room where a wall of windows faced east. The room is not used often and so I never noticed all the fading that was taking place on the rug. One end of the rug was under a credenza so that end of the rug has retained the true colors. The fading of the rug seems to increase with the proximity of the windows. I hate to get rid of it since I paid so much for it and I convinced my husband that it was a good investment. Do you have any recommendations? Could it be redyed?

  8. Sunlight does fade/bleach things — carpet, wood, furniture, paintings, etc. To help control future fading/bleaching you could hang sheers in the window so you have light and views but reduce the damage to the sheers.
    For your bleached rug I don’t know what to suggest. Yes, it can be redyed. Or you can bleach the original color to match the faded color — using diluted bleach, hydrogen peroxide or sunlight (the bleach is my least favorite idea because of its caustic nature). If you go the redying route, hire a professional to do it so you don’t incur further damage.

  9. I bought a round hand tufted wool rug. I received it in the mail rolled tightly. After unrolling it and laying it out, I noticed an area in the center that was popping up. I tried to smooth it out, but that didn’t work. On one edge it was also coming up from being rolled, I put some heavy books on that edge, but it is still coming up off the ground. The center of the rug with this area creased so to speak is really bothering me. Is there any way to fix this? I will return the rug if it is a flaw, but I hope it can be fixed as I love the rug. Thanks for any help!

  10. Hi,
    We just moved into a new home with loads of windows. I was contemplating purchasing New Zealand wool rugs for my living room (east) and foyer (west). The rugs would cost about $5,000. After reading about all the difficulties with sun bleaching, would I be better off trying to find a synthetic rug? And, if so, what should I look for?

  11. I think you might still be able to find something natural so long as it is very colorfast. You can find more info on different types of rugs (natural and synthetic) by reading up at the carpet section of the site.
    Good luck!

  12. Hi there,
    I just bought a second hand wool rug that is about 15 years old. It is in pretty good shape and about 10 X 13. The only problem is that the center section (4 X 5 center part of rug) is wrinkled up in many areas. I think this was a dining room rug and I am using it as an area rug with two chairs, table and settee. The center is the part that will show. How can I get the bumps out of the rug without making it worse or ruining it? Thanks,

  13. Hi Vicki,
    Not much you can do, but you can try to dampen it (use a spray bottle) and lay something heavy on it until it dries – like books???? Have some towels under them though. Having it professionally cleaned might take care of the wrinkles. It just depends on what caused this to happen to begin with. If it has had spills and then the rug got out of shape in the middle, the whole thing should be cleaned in hopes it can be gotten back into uniform shape.

  14. Hi,
    About two years ago, I purchase this rich chocolate jug rug, the color more than the jug was what sold me on the carpet. However the sun has taken a told on most of it, it is now orange on one side and the other is still that rich brown. Can I paint if so what type of paint do you recommend?

  15. We have an 8×11 wool area rug that had stains. We took the rug outside and washed it with water and carpet cleaner, and sprayed the cleaner off with a power hose. Out mistake was then to place it over chairs and deck railings to dry, where it ended up getting stretched out of shape – in the center, sides… bumps all over. Is there ANYTHING that can be done to fix it? Steam?


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.