You finally took the plunge and purchased that dreamy, luxurious wool rug you’ve been eyeing for months. The colors complement your space perfectly. The texture feels incredible under your toes. You smile every time you step onto its plush surface.
Life is good. But then…you notice something.
Little fuzzy bits of fabric start appearing on the floor surrounding the rug. Upon closer inspection, you realize with dread that these bits are coming FROM the rug itself!
Your new prized possession is shedding worse than a golden retriever in July.
What gives? Isn’t wool supposed to be one of the best rug materials around? Why is your expensive wool rug molting all over the place like it’s having an identity crisis?
The agonizing truth is that wool rugs shed – it’s in their nature. But don’t despair. With the right information, you can minimize the shedding and enjoy your wool rug for years to come.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty details of why wool sheds, how much shedding to expect, ways to reduce it, and whether wool is still worth it despite this annoying quirk. Consider this your crash course in dealing with wool shedding!
Why Wool Sheds in the First Place
To understand why wool rugs shed, you need to first understand a bit about wool fibers.
Wool is a natural protein fiber that comes from sheep hair. The outer layer of wool fibers have tiny scales that overlap each other like shingles on a roof. This gives wool its trademark crimp and elasticity.
But these scales can also cause wool fibers to “stick” together when compressed. Manufacturing techniques like carding, spinning, and weaving bring the wool fibers close together. The scales catch on each other, essentially tangling the fibers.
Later, when the rug is used, natural friction from feet and vacuuming causes some of these tangled fibers to break away from the rug’s surface. The result? Shedding.
The specific manufacturing process used to construct the wool rug also affects shedding levels. Hand-knotted rugs, for instance, are less likely to shed than hand-tufted rugs.
Hand-knotted rugs, wool yarn is tied around the rug’s warp and weft foundation thousands of times to create each knot. This creates an exceptionally durable bond that resists fiber loss.
Hand-tufted rugs, on the other hand, involve a tufting gun shooting yarn through a backing fabric. The tufts are glued or stitched in place. That glue or stitching eventually weakens over time, causing the tufts to loosen and shed.
Machine-made rugs are churned out rapidly on mechanized looms. Shortcuts are taken to speed up production, resulting in weak spots where the wool fibers can detach.
New Rug Shedding
Brand new wool rugs, even high-quality hand-knotted ones, tend to shed the most right out of the gates. This is because the rug-making process leaves extra bits of fiber trapped within the rug that eventually work their way out.
Shedding should subside after the first 3 to 6 months as loose fibers are removed through regular use and vacuuming. Consider a new wool rug’s shedding phase as just part of the breaking-in process.
Not All Wool Is Created Equal
The overall quality of the wool also plays a role in shedding. Higher grades of wool like New Zealand wool tend to shed less than lower grades.
High altitude wool from sheep raised in mountainous regions is naturally high in lanolin wax. This makes the fibers strong and resilient.
Lowland wool is more coarse and higher in vegetable matter contamination that causes fibers to breakdown faster. Rugs made with lowland wool shed more as a result.
How Much Shedding Should You Expect?
Okay, so now you know why wool sheds. But how much shedding are we really talking about here?
The amount of shedding depends on several factors:
- Wool quality – Higher grades of wool shed less.
- Manufacturing – Hand-knotted rugs shed less than hand-tufted or machine-made.
- Newness – Shedding is worst in the first 3-6 months then improves.
- Traffic – High foot traffic areas see more shedding.
- Cleanliness – Soil particles act as abrasives that accelerate shedding.
It also depends on the actual style and texture of the rug:
- Flatweave rugs tend to shed the least amount since their tight weave resists fiber loss.
- Shag and high-pile rugs shed the most due to all that extra yarn.
- Hand-tufted and felted wool rugs can shed significantly through their lifespan.
Now for the million dollar question – how much shedding is normal? For a high-quality hand-knotted or flatweave wool rug, you can expect to see a handful of fibers shed per week, mostly during vacuuming.
Low-pile hand-tufted or machine-made rugs may shed a handful of fibers per day during their first year. Shag wool rugs can shed shocking amounts – like a whole sockful per week!
While that may sound like a lot, rest assured the shedding does slow down significantly after the first few months as loose fibers work themselves out.
And now that you know what to expect, you’re prepared to handle the wool shedding beast!
Tips to Minimize Wool Rug Shedding
Okay, so some amount of shedding is inevitable with wool. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for fuzzy tumbleweeds of fibers constantly swirling around your floors.
Arm yourself with these tips to keep shedding under control:
Vacuum Gently and Properly
It’s tempting to want to vacuum up every last fiber, but that can backfire. Rough vacuuming actually rips out MORE fibers!
Instead, gently vacuum across the rug’s surface using the wand attachment once or twice per week. Never use beater bars or a rotating brush head. And keep the suction on low to avoid pulling fibers out.
Use a Rug Pad
Rug pads work wonders to minimize shed levels in wool rugs. The pad’s grip keeps the rug firmly in place instead of shifting around. This reduces friction and fiber loss.
Pads also provide a protective barrier between your floors and the rug so any loose fibers get caught in the pad instead scattering across your floors.
Rotate and Redistribute Traffic
Do you have areas of the rug that see more feet than others? Rotating your rug every 6 months distributes traffic more evenly across the surface. This prevents excessive wear and tear on high-traffic paths.
During the initial shedding phase, place it in lower traffic areas until it stabilizes.
Keep Dirt and Grime to a Minimum
Did you know soil particles act as microscopic razors on fiber surfaces? Even clean-looking dirt abrades the fibers and expedites shedding.
Be diligent about keeping grit off your wool rug. Place doormats at entrances, never wear shoes on the rug, and frequently vacuum up soil. The less dirt the better when it comes to shedding.
Consider Non-Shedding Alternatives
If you tried these steps and still find wool shedding intolerable, you may want to consider these non-shedding options instead for high-traffic areas:
- Cotton rugs made of either braided or woven cotton are affordable, durable, and shed-free.
- Synthetic fiber rugs like polypropylene, nylon, or polyester will not shed at all. They offer stability but less comfort.
- Flatweave wool rugs have tightly interwoven fibers resistant to loss. So you get wool’s beauty without the shedding.
Why Wool is Still Worth It Despite the Shedding
After learning about the agonizing shedding tendencies of wool, you may be wondering if it’s even worth it.
The answer is a resounding YES – wool offers many benefits that outweigh the shedding con.
Here’s why wool is still a smart choice:
Durability – Despite some shedding, wool fiber is extremely strong. Properly cared for, a wool rug will outlast synthetic rugs.
Visual Appeal – Wool ‘s natural crimp gives it wonderful texture and depth. It also takes dye beautifully.
Easy Maintenance – Wool is stain resistant and with prompt attention, even tough spills can be removed easily.
Comfort – Wool offers heavenly softness and insulation. Your feet will thank you!
For living rooms, bedrooms and other cozy spaces, wool simply can’t be beat in terms of comfort and beauty. With the right expectations about shedding, wool is absolutely still worth it.
Don’t Let Shedding Deter You From Wool
The naked truth about wool shedding. Yes, it can be annoying to deal with. But a little patience and smart care makes all the difference.
Now that you know what to expect and how to handle it, you can fully enjoy wool’s beauty and luxury with confidence.
So embrace that wonderful wool rug without fear. With this advice in your back pocket, you have all the knowledge needed to minimize shedding and maximize the wool experience. Your floors and feet will thank you!