Carpets and Rugs of Hawaii

Wool Carpets and Hawaiian Style Area Rugs

Archive for wool allergies

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.

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Allergic Reactions to Wool Carpets and Rugs?

The natural performance of a wool fiber and it’s durable qualities have protected man for over 25,000 years. Wool is actually a hypoallergenic fiber. Those who say they are allergic are most often referring to the prickle and tickle effect of an old wool sweater. Sitting or laying on wool carpets and rugs rarely, if ever, can cause the same effect. No one has ever been treated or diagnosed for anaflactic shock when coming into contact with wool.

Allergies are widespread in the developed world and that problem is increasing for two main reasons:

  1. A great number of synthetic substances and petroleum based products are being used in the home.
  2. The improved diagnosis of allergic conditions are now available to those suffering from allergies.

There is no reason why asthmatic or allergy sensitive people should not enjoy the comfort and good looks of carpets and/or rugs. Wool is non-allergenic and does not promote the growth of dust mites or bacteria. Wool carpet fibers are too long and too coarse to be inhaled and therefore do not affect asthma sufferers. In fact hard surface floors allow airborne particles to be disturbed and whirl into the air causing more irritation for hay fever and asthma sufferers.

Recent data from Swedens Central Statistics Bureau, Army, and Flooring Association shows that over the past 20 years while the installation of carpet went down with the increase of hard surface installations, the number of allergic people increased dramatically over the same period.

Wool fibers actually purify indoor air by absorbing air pollutants and gases. Wool fibers absorb common contaminants in indoor air like formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide, while not releasing VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). This is one of the reasons why the LEEDS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) environmental program accepted wool carpets as the only soft surface floor covering in the initial testing of accepted floor covering products. The approved products are rubber, bamboo, linoleum, cork, and, of course, wool. All of these products are also rapidly renewable, biodegradable, and carbon neutral.

Not only does wool keep the air free of many harmful pollutants, it will not release them, even when heated. It has been estimated that wool carpets can continually purify indoor air for up to 30 years. What a natural and beautiful way to help the earth and improve the comfort in your own home.

If you hear someone say “I’m allergic to wool”, just keep in mind that another man made myth is now explained and hopefully put to rest.


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