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What is Wool Carpet?

Wool is shorn from sheep.
A white wool carpet may resist staining.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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Wool carpet has an extensive history, beginning an estimated 8000 years ago with people first learning to shear sheep and goats and create weaving techniques from wool. Out of necessity for warmth and insulation, carpets were eventually born, excellent for keeping the feet warm and for warming up homes. A product as timeless as the wool carpet is also very timely, since many people prefer to have carpets today that are made out of 100% wool. These natural fiber carpets do tend to be some of the most expensive made today, but there are many reasons why people still choose them for their homes.

The wool carpet and the wool rug have numerous incarnations. You can find traditional oriental and Persian style rugs made from 100% wool fibers, and you can purchase pretty much any style or color you like of wall-to-wall carpeting. Sometimes wool carpet is really a blend, often of synthetic and natural fibers. This may be less expensive, though many people feel the inclusion of synthetic fibers minimizes the benefits of the wool.

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Synthetic fibers, first nylon and then polyester, were introduced in the mid-20th century, and these captured much of the wool (or cotton) carpet market. They were cheaper to use and well adapted to new manufacturing processes for creating rugs like tufted carpet. Yet there has always remained a market for the wool carpet, and wool was thought particularly rich and glamorous, especially as expense of it seemed to justify that title.

Today people may choose a wool carpet specifically to avoid synthetic fibers. Concern has risen about the chemicals used to create or treat these carpets, and the potential for a carpet to continue to release these chemicals into the air we breathe. Some argue that certain synthetic fiber carpets make a home or other dwelling space “toxic” and should be avoided.

This concern, and appreciation for the continued benefits of wool, which is definitely a natural fiber, has increased higher demand for wool carpeting. Yet some wool can be treated with stain resistant chemicals too. There are, however, “natural” carpets which don’t receive treatments.

Some of the principle benefits of the wool carpet include that wool isn’t likely to harbor dust mites or be an indoor pollutant (though some people are allergic to wool). Wool fibers have a natural stain resisting property called lanolin, which may help resist some stains. A wool carpet is also biodegradable and made from a renewable resource, so it can be called “green” carpeting. Wool is also considered a good fiber because of its durability, though this can vary with the quality of fibers used.

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