Carpets and Rugs of Hawaii

Wool Carpets and Hawaiian Style Area Rugs

Archive for rug maintenance

Green Washing and Going Green…Really?

I hear so much in my industry about how consumers and manufacturers are “Going Green”. Sometimes it makes you wonder how some people sleep at night. For those of us who would like to be a wannabe environmentalist 100% of the time, we are faced with great challenges. The environmental cause has always been dear to my heart from the time I became president of our environmental club in Junior High School (before Earth Day was established) to my present job of supplying environmentally-friendly products in the floor covering industry.

It certainly is an improvement for companies to be manufacturing recycled coke bottles into carpets, but is it truly an environmental product?  Does it biodegrade when disposed of?  Does it look better or last longer before replacement than its petroleum-based synthetic cousin?  Recycled carpets are still petroleum-based, so in my opinion do not offer the same environmental benefits of a wool product. Buying synthetic carpets also buys into my personal belief that purchasing petroleum-based products puts more money into the hands of the oil producing countries. If we truly want to be self-sustaining, then why are we making products that require thousands of barrels of oil to produce?  Recycled carpet can only be recycled once. What do we do with it after that? I guess you get my point on “green washing”.

The five original LEED approved floor covering products are still the products I’m going to promote.  They were and are:

  • Cork
  • Bamboo
  • Rubber
  • Wool
  • Wood

These products offer virtually no VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) and in the case of cork and wool no tree or animal is killed.  Neither one is affected by termites, which is a great application for many areas of the country and especially here  in Hawaii.

The great thing to remember about natural products and using them in your home or commercial setting is that they can be less expensive than their synthetic counterparts.  So you can be truly green, breath easier, and help the planet at the same time.

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Wool is Naturally Stain Resistant, Fire Resistant, And Easy To Maintain

It’s the real thing – not a “wanna be” fiber.

Some of the most unusual comments and questions I am asked about wool seem to be the easiest to answer if a person uses some everyday common factors and a little common sense.

Wool, cashmere, and mohair have always been considered luxury fibers and the fibers of choice for expensive suits, sweaters, and upholstery fabrics. These fibers are not only preferred and chosen by most hi-end designers in clothing, but also in upholstery and floor coverings.

The obvious is what we as consumers have always known. Wool lasts for years and years if properly maintained. Think of your wool outer sweaters, your winter coats. They lasted for years and were hardly ever dry cleaned, except when you thought about it or wanted to put them up for the summer. Dad’s Merino wool suit was always beautiful and looked perfect on him. Your husband’s Ralph Lauren tuxedo made him a dreamboat.

Cashmere sweaters, shawls, coats, hats, and gloves have always been considered the premier fiber for anyone wanting to feel special or glamorous and enjoy the luxurious soft feel and texture of the fiber against your skin. Wool/Mohair upholstery has been the choice of upholstery fabrics from Lincoln Center to airline seating.Wool has been in your life for years, from your Grandma’s rug to the Casino floor.

So when someone asks me if wool is hard to clean or maintain, I just have to remind them to think about how long it has been around and the many applications it may have had in their lives.

Wool carpets, from antique rugs to Coast Guard ships, has been around much longer than it’s “wanna be” fiber competitors. All the hype we hear about warranties against staining, soiling, and fiber wear still cannot compete with the long lasting look, durability, and ease of maintenance of a wool fiber.

Warranties include texture retention, abrasive wear, soiling, and staining, and most important, manufacturer’s defects. They can range from 5 years to 10 years, depending on the fiber and the manufacturer. Having a warranty does not always guarantee that your carpet will not stain or soil as we have all learned over the years. It also does not guarantee that you will be happy in how it looks six months or six years down the road.

Wool carpets and natural fibers in general tend to wear beautifully and clean easily if given the attention and care that you would give to any fiber or fabric in your home. Even the products that proclaim to be “stainless” require that spots and spills be cleaned in a timely manner and with the proper cleaning tools and chemicals. Otherwise, your warranty isn’t applicable or enforceable in many instances.

Natural fibers in floor covering, such as wool and mohair will last for years and years and will not tend to harden and ugly out on the floor like synthetic fibers. Wool is resilient and will spring back from heavy furniture. Wool will clean easily with gentle and natural products such as vinegar and water, club soda, and plain old water. Wool helps to control humidity but at the same time will resist a spill or stain by beading up on top of the carpet or fabric. This gives you time to grab a towel and avoid staining by removing the spill that has yet to be absorbed into the carpet.

In the long run, what has worked in clothing and fabrics has also worked on the floor. Your acrylic sweater isn’t considered a luxury item and probably only looks decent for one season. A polyester pair of pants only maintains appearance for a short period of time and will “pill” and look pretty bad after a few cleanings.

These same factors apply when you put a polypropylene based product on the floor to endure foot traffic, liquid spills, food, etc. They may look pretty nice at first, but after some wear and cleaning they still don’t look like your Grandma’s wool rug.

Think about it. You don’t enjoy wearing plastic, why would you want to walk on it.