Carpets and Rugs of Hawaii

Wool Carpets and Hawaiian Style Area Rugs

Archive for wool

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.


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.

Help! My Wool Carpet Is Going Bald!

The Phenomenom of Shedding in Carpets and Rugs

The issue of shedding on any fiber in floor covering seems to be one that concerns consumers the most, after staining. Most people think their carpets are showing excessive shedding. Normally this is not the case.

Fiber shedding after a carpet installation is quite common even though end users think they are losing all the fiber content and their carpet is going to end up going bald.

There are three contributing factors to carpet shedding. Two are normal maintenance issues. The third will be addressed from a manufacturer’s viewpoint.

I will address the first two. Those are usually the main reasons for carpet shedding:

  1. Vacuum Cleaners and correct usage –

In today’s preference for loop pile carpets, manufacturers are now beginning to put labeling on their product to use suction only appliances. Even in today’s synthetics, brushes used on loop pile constructed carpets are deadly for the life and appearance of these products.

Wool carpets are no different and should be treated once or twice a week thorough vacuuming. Vacuum cleaner manufacturers should be contacted for either a brush less beater bar or no brush attachments when you have installed a loop pile constructed carpet.

Vacuum cleaner bags –

Most people use their vacuum cleaner bags until they are filled up to the top. The efficiency of cleaning carpets, articularly new installations, with full or over half full vacuum bags drops by 50%. Therefore, clean out your appliance when you reach a 50% capacity and you will see less shedding in the first few months of your carpets’ life.

  1. Manufacturing Process –

When a wool carpet is made there is a process called “combing and carding” that aligns the fibers and allows them to lie together to go into a “sliver” to then be sent onto the yarn spinning process. Well-made wool carpets and rugs are processed with resilient yarns and long staple yarns. These yarns offer the long wear, stain resistant, and easily maintained product we all have come to know and prefer when ordering a rug or carpet for our homes.

At the time of yarn spinning and then carpet manufacturing some of the yarn will have small amounts of fibers escape. This has no effect on the density of your finished product. If you have ordered a cut pile product, shearing can also leave fibers loose that come to the top of the carpet adding to the shedding phenomenon.

In no way does this mean that you are losing carpet fiber that is a part of the base product. The shedding is basically unconnected fiber that is working its way to the top of the product. In a wool product, this is a good thing.

Wool floor coverings, because of the natural shedding process, tend to look better longer than synthetic products. This natural shedding is actually a self-cleaning process that keeps the dirt layer on top of the carpet and therefore more easily removed by proper vacuuming and spot maintenance. So, don’t panic.

The third concern for shedding could actually be a manufacturing choice with short staple fibers being used instead of the more expensive 5 to 7 inch staple fibers preferred by most carpet manufacturers. This does not mean that you will not receive the same benefits by using a natural wool product. Less expensive wool carpets might possibly be using shorter staple yarns and you could see more shedding because of these conditions. 

When ordering any floor covering most manufacturers offer a fiber warranty. You will see a warranty for manufacturers defects with wool carpet manufacturers. Because wool carpets do lose fiber and tend to shed more than the plastic carpets do a fiber warranty is not usually offered on wool carpet. What wool carpets offer you is a resiliency and beauty that lasts for many years compared to what occurs in synthetic carpets. Synthetic carpets tend to flatten out, or in carpet terms “ugly out”. This does not mean the carpet is worn out, it just tends to become very hard and flat and harder still to clean. So when reviewing warranties it is important to realize that most only cover fiber content, staining issues, and manufacturers defects. They do not guarantee lasting beauty, comfort, or resiliency underfoot. After all, isn’t that why we prefer natural products on our bodies and in our homes? Manmade fibers are still a long way off from supplying the comfort that a natural and environmental product can offer.

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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Should Wool Be Used in the Tropics?

Wool in the Tropics is not a new concept. It has been used successfully in every type of climate for centuries. Only in the recent age of scientific data and hype have people begun to ask for explanation and confirmation of what their predecessors took for granted. Wool is a natural fiber. It breathes, like all natural fibers. Unlike man-made carpets and rugs made from petroleum and oil-based products, wool does not react to heat and humidity like plastic products. Wool fiber can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture vapor without feeling damp. So, at times of high humidity, wool absorbs moisture and then releases this moisture again when the atmosphere is dry, acting as an atmospheric buffer.

In conditions of high humidity, generally found in the tropics, invariably it is the carpet backing that is first affected by mildew, mold, or fungus. Wool fiber is naturally quite mildew resistant, especially as it will tend to have a relatively low pH acid level. Backings for all carpets can now be treated to avoid the mold and mildew problems experienced in the past. Wool fiber also absorbs and neutralizes airborne chemicals and odors. This makes it especially important to those suffering from toxic and allergic reactions to plastics and carbon dioxide producing chemicals in the home. The fact that wool does not produce or add to these toxins and is a carbon neutral fiber qualifies it as a LEEDS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified product for home and contract projects. Since it is produced by sheep and is also a renewable and biodegradable resource, it the perfect choice for an environmentally responsible homeowner or contract specifier.

In tropical climates, walking barefoot on wool carpet feels cooler, less sticky and more comfortable than synthetic fiber carpets. When wool releases moisture it feels (and is) cooler. Reducing condensation and humidity levels in the home is a natural for wool, which makes it a natural choice for a home in the tropics.

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Hawaiian Carpets and Rugs

About Hawaiian Carpets and Rugs

This site was designed with the people of Hawaii in mind. These rugs and carpets have been hand-picked to enable you, the consumer, to choose reasonably priced Hawaiiana designs for residential and commercial use. I invite you to visit the web sites of the numerous area rugs and carpet mills I represent. These products are available for purchase through your local retailer. If assistance is needed in purchasing and installing your new floorcoverings I will be happy to put you in contact with our local team of experts.

The Wool Advantage

Questions regarding the use of natural fibers will be addressed, and I will personally walk you through the mystery of choosing the best rugs and or carpets. Wool carpets and rugs are naturally “green” and offer long lasting beauty, durability, and cleanability, far exceeding the myths of synthetics.

Experience and Reach

My 20 years of experience representing the best carpet and rug manufacturers in the world is at your disposal. (Some of these manufacturers are listed in the side bar). If you are choosing a contract or residential product or just a simple area rug, the mills and importers from Georgia, New Zealand, Australia, Greece, California, China, Tibet, Nepal, and England can offer you a vast array of products.

Aloha, Dana

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