Rug Shedding + What to Avoid
Months of pinning ideas for your new décor. Countless hours searching for the rug that will tie it all together. And then success — Just the right thing for just the right price. But when you get it home, there’s a problem. The rug sheds. And sheds. And sheds. And no amount of vacuuming or brushing seems to alleviate the problem.
WHAT CAUSES A RUG TO SHED?
Sometimes, shedding happens briefly with a new rug and will stop within a couple of months, after light vacuuming and normal wear.
If your rug is still shedding, then there are two main contributing factors: THE MATERIAL AND THE MAKE
Even among wool, it is not all the same quality. Sheep that are reared high in the mountains have long hair, naturally rich with lanolin wool to keep them warm and comfortable in high altitudes. Wool from these high-altitude sheep is used to weave rugs of a very high, durable quality. Wool from the sheep in lower lands tends to be coarser than their highland cousins and is of a lesser quality. If these sheep are sheered too often and the wool is left short, in order to make the yarn usable, adhesives will be added to bring these short wool pieces together. The adhesive breaks down over time, and these little pieces begin to shed.
There are a number of different ways to make a rug, and the difference in quality comes down to whether a rug is:
- Made by hand, like hand-knotted and hand-woven
- Manufactured with modern techniques, like machine-made and tufted (by hand or machine)
Hand-made rugs are crafted from techniques that give structural integrity to pieces: hand-knotted rugs are made from hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of threads knotted to the rug’s cotton or wool foundation. Hand-woven rugs are made by repeatedly passing a warp through the carpet’s weft. These techniques insure that every part of the rug is integral to the rug’s structure, and therefore, less likely to come apart.
More modern techniques are more about assembling pieces than weaving strong, durable rugs. For example, in tufted and hooked rugs, a tufting gun is used to shoot fabric “tufts” through a plastic grid. These rugs need to be backed with a polymer or glue to keep the tufts in place. Not only is the wool of lesser quality, the backing material can deteriorate and both the backing and pile will begin to shed. Machine-made rugs are made at incredible speed on a machine similar to a newspaper ream, and usually from polymer-based materials to survive this process. These synthetic materials breakdown as would other petroleum-based materials.
When you combine lower quality wool or synthetic materials with modern rug-making techniques, it’s not uncommon for your rug to shed.
So what do you do about it?
The best defense is a good offense: buy a hand-knotted or hand-woven rug made of natural materials. If those fall out of your budget, consider a hand-loomed rug of quality wool or bamboo fibers, or Rugpublic's high-quality machine-made rugs that use better quality polyester fibers. We recommend you avoid MOST tufted rugs, if shedding is a concern.
If that’s not an option or it’s too late for that, then you need to play good defense. There’s no perfect method to stopping shedding, but you can reduce it by preventing any further damage to your rug.
- Lightly vacuum it regularly, going with the grain of the pile and not against it.
- Make sure not to use a heavy beater bar or have the vacuum on the setting closest to the ground.
- Use a high-quality rug pad under the rug to absorb shock and reduce further damage to the pile.
- If possible, move it to a low-traffic area.
Remember, a tufted rug is not meant to last more than a few years, so when it’s time to upgrade, remember to buy a hand-knotted rug, a hand-woven, or even a hand-loomed one. If you’re looking for a bargain, even consider a hand-loomed rug. Always look for natural materials.
Ready for a house with rugs that don't shed? Shop our vast collection of handmade rugs.
This blog post was created with the help of our friends at floorplanrugs