Why Wool Rugs Need to Be Cleaned Even if They Don’t “Look” Dirty

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is, “How often do I need to have my wool rugs cleaned?” or, “How often do I HAVE to get my wool rugs cleaned if it looks good (no big stains) and we have very little foot traffic?”

That is carpet thinking. Not rugs. I understand why people think that way. I really do, but it’s just wrong. Wool and synthetic fibers can look similar to the naked eye, but are very different.

Most wall to wall carpet in the United States is synthetic. It’s often plastic, which goes by many names, such as nylon, olefin, polypropylene, polyester, acrylic, etc. It shows oily “dirt” quickly because oil is attracted to oil, and wears out much faster than wool rug yarns.

Here are some images with an electron microscope of nylon fibers.

Why is wool better? Well, there is one important thing to remember about wool.

Wool hides dirt. Plastic doesn’t. A real handwoven wool rug can last centuries if properly cared for. Carpet becomes worn out in a few years. They are not the same thing at all.

The rug salesman likely told you this when you were looking to make your purchase. “This rug is so well made it won’t need cleaning for YEARS if ever.” I’ve even heard, “Just a good broom sweeping is all the maintenance the rug will ever need.” Wrong.

Wool has scales like a fish, and they hide all the pounds of dander and pollen that land on your rug. Remember the “rug looks clean” comment from earlier? It DOES LOOK clean, but it’s not. The soil becomes impacted underneath those “scales” until they actually will start to break off from all the soil buried deep inside the rug.

The image below shows the scales I’m referring to under a microscope.

A dirty wool rug is actually a damaged wool rug. The scales are off of the fish.

Rugs die from the inside out.

That is why a rug should receive a proper wash every 12-18 months and should never go longer than 2 years between thorough cleanings. For your fine rug cleaning needs in Austin, TX, reach out to Aegis—we clean your rug the right way and keep those scales fresh.