Carpets and Rugs of Hawaii

Wool Carpets and Hawaiian Style Area Rugs

Archive for carpet maintenance

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.