Choosing natural broadloom wool carpeting and/or area rugs for your home is a big part of creating a healthy, toxic free home! I’ve had natural wool carpet for over a decade now and I’ve been extremely happy with its feel and performance. Most of all, it gives me the peace of mind that comes from having a clean home environment.
The longevity of natural wool carpet
Compared to synthetic carpet fibers like nylon or polyester, wool is high performing with longevity being a big selling point. Wool fiber has high elasticity characteristics, and is a naturally resilient material very suitable for carpet production. Once compressed from prolonged periods of weight, over time, most carpet fibers will become damaged and flatten out. Wool is one of the few exceptions and can last decades if cared for correctly and regularly. It is very durable, and it is naturally hypoallergenic and stain-resistant. Wool is a 100% natural and sustainable fiber containing naturally occurring oils (lanolin). The oils in wool fiber are resistant to dirt and will repel other oil-based soiling. While wool is naturally stain resistant, it is not likely as stain repellant as a non- natural carpet with a chemical based stain treatment, but, if you are trying to avoid toxins and chemicals, we think it is a good tradeoff.
Healthy carpet? Wool versus Conventional Carpets
New carpet contains a large amount of chemicals which outgas into the air. Chemicals that are inside of the carpet do not necessarily stay there, small particles “outgas” and end up in the air which pets and humans will then breathe. Take a sniff if you walk into a conventional carpet store. For the odor sensitive, the odor is quite overwhelming. Personally, I have a hard time even being in a home where new carpet has been installed because the odors are so strong. This is observable evidence that the chemicals from the carpet end up in the air. What are these chemicals? There are solvents and adhesives that are used in making the carpet as well as chemical additives like flame retardants and stain protectors added after it is made. New carpets can contain several known carcinogens, including formaldehyde, ethylbenzene, acetone, toluene, and styrene. Not only can new carpets contain chemicals but carpet padding also contains numerous chemicals linked to adverse health effects.
Per-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs or PFAS) don’t break down in the environment or the human body. PFA’s are known as forever chemicals because they just continue to accumulate until they can reach toxic levels. Many PFA’s have been linked to a slew of health concerns that are becoming more apparent year by year. The carpet industry has used PFAS for years to coat carpet yarn for increased stain, soil, and water resistance. These chemicals can break down off of carpet fibers over time and end up in household and office dust, causing concern about their potential toxicity. The buildup of indoor air contaminants has been a growing concern since the 1970s. It was then that energy conservation methods were introduced, which minimized the flow of outside air into homes and buildings. Less access to outside air increases the concentration of contaminants in an indoor space, making the air unhealthy – even toxic.
While some conventional carpet can pass tests for minimum volatile organic chemical emissions, wool goes a giant step further by absorbing the contaminants irreversibly in its structure, improving the quality of indoor air. Just make sure to choose one that has not been treated with any additional chemicals, like a stain-resistant or water-resistant barrier. The complex chemistry of wool fiber enables it to bind pollutant gases chemically in its structure, including formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, and lock them into its core without re-releasing them. Studies showed that wool carpets have one of the highest removal rates of nitrogen dioxide. In contrast, the removal rate of synthetic carpets was less than half that of wool. As such, wool improves indoor air and creates healthier working and living environments. It has been estimated that wool carpets can continue purifying indoor air for up to 30 years.
Wool as a natural flame retardant
Natural wool carpet is naturally fire resistant with a lower ignition temperature than all other carpet materials. It does not need an added flame retardant because it naturally can slow or even prevent the growth of an indoor fire. Because of wool’s natural fire retardant properties it is also used in almost all of our organic mattresses to serve as a natural flame retardant so they do not have to be treated with harmful chemical retardants.
All our wool carpets and area rugs are completely natural, using only naturally occurring pigments for dyes. Just wool, jute, hemp, and natural rubber. Rug padding and grippers also come in natural fibers like wool and natural rubber. No flame retardants. No stain resistors. No chemical soup.
Natural Wool Carpet is better for the Environment.
Being a natural fiber, wool is orders of magnitude less taxing on the environment than fossil fuel based products like polyester and nylon. There is much less water consumption used to produce it compared to polyester and there are no chemical byproducts in the production of wool. Wool is also biodegradable. When the time does come to remove and replace your carpet you won’t have to worry about your natural wool carpet putting any harmful chemicals into the ground for years to come.
Energy efficiency of Wool Carpet
There’s nothing more luxurious than the comfort and warmth of a wool carpet. The wool acts as an insulator keeping your house warm, making it an energy efficient investment and a pleasure to have during the cold winter months. Wool will also absorb sound and will cushion the home against echoes and noise from the family.
Things to know before buying.
Wool requires special care. Harsh cleaning chemicals will destroy the natural properties of wool fiber, sunlight will fade it, and wool carpets absorb water so it must be cleaned with a low-moisture method. As with all quality natural fiber carpets, vacuuming with a suction only vacuum cleaner is recommended. Beater bar vacuum cleaners may damage the surface pile of wool carpets. Many vacuums will let you turn the beater bar into an “off” position.
Before purchasing your natural wool carpet, have a professional carpet installer measure to give you the amount you need to purchase! If you choose a professional carpet cleaner, be sure they are familiar with proper cleaning methods of natural wool carpet.
We believe that a natural and sustainable carpet fiber like wool can help to reduce the number of pollutants in a home and create a safer environment for your family and friends to enjoy for years. While natural wool carpeting can be more expensive and require specific cleaning methods, we believe it more than pays for itself in air filtration, natural fire resistance, insulation and overall natural construction.