Rugs can shed for many reasons. This can be caused by poor fiber quality, poor construction, or improper homeowner care.
Weekly, I get emails asking what to do with a rug that sheds. Here’s a list of common scenarios where rugs shed and if there are any helpful tips.
WOOL & SILK WOVEN RUGS
Hand-knotted rugs are sheared to achieve the desired pile height. Shearing can cause tiny fibers to be left behind, which can appear as “shedding” on a new rug. Even the best production houses wash their rugs to remove this residue. However, even with such attention to detail, some small pieces may need to be noticed.
The shedding of the rug will cease very soon after purchase, as any cut loose threads are vacuumed.
When the rug sheds, it can be a problem. It is usually the result of low-quality fibers or poor construction.
A rug of good quality, with a standard pile height and hand-knotted wool or silk, should not shed.
The strength of the wool and silk yarn is required to hand knot and twist a rug. Traditional hand-knotted rugs do not shed unless they have suffered some severe damage (i.e., This can be due to hefty traffic or water damage.
Some strands can be missed in a shearing procedure, even if the rug is made of high-quality wool. The cut strands will show up when the carpet is used and vacuumed. They look like a cat clawed it.
Pull on these fiber sprouts to tell if the rug is made from brittle, bad wool, or a bad cut by the shearing machine. It will come apart and be free if it’s terrible wool. The entire knot will come out if the construction could be better. If it does not come out quickly, it may be a missed strand and must be cut. Cut the strand with your scissors.
SHAGGY & CHUNKY WOOL SHEDDING
Many people who purchase shaggy wool or chunky wool rugs believe that wool rugs are all shed.
Wool is made from short staple fibers, spun, twisted, and plied into yarn. The thread is made up of short strands that are blended with longer strands. The longer and more extensive the wool construction is, the more likely short strands will come loose.
These rugs can be of very high quality or deficient quality. After several months of use, the high-quality rugs will cease to be shed. All “loose” short hairs are pulled away. Poor-quality rugs shed forever and wear out faster in areas with high traffic because they are broken.
A horse hair brush can pull loose strands from shaggier wool carpets. Vacuuming these rugs can cause problems. For these rugs, a beater bar vacuum is not advisable. Instead, use a hand vacuum.
The best way to clean shag or chunky wool rugs is to have the landscapers use their leaf blower. This will remove the dust, dirt, and other “stuff” from the fibers.
TUFTED RUG SHEDDING
The tufted rugs have a glue-backed latex backing. The back of these rugs is covered with fabric.
In India, wool that isn’t strong enough for hand-knotted rugs gets used to make lower-quality production wool rugs like “hand loomed rugs” and “tufted rugs”. Online rug shops sell these rugs for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
If you use your thumb to scratch the front fibers of the wool, they will break apart. The texture is not soft but somewhat scratchy.
When I get an email from a customer complaining about a rug that is heavily shedding or has an odor problem, I know it’s 9 out of 10 times from India. The 10th rug is from Morocco.
Wool and silk tufted rugs of high quality are produced by V’Soske and Edward Fields. Custom Looms and other rug makers who charge high prices also have these rugs. If the fibers of these rugs are separating, it could be due to moths, heavy traffic, or aggressive beater bar vacuum damage.
Some tufted rugs have a hooking style. Loops can pop out and break in areas with heavy foot traffic. Even the best fibers will break with constant friction. Poor-quality fibers break more often with less friction. Beater bar brushes should not be used on hooked rugs or with poor-quality fibers.
Wool, cotton, or silk are all longer-lasting fibers. These fibers are not as flexible and durable and will break and shed in high-traffic areas.
The fibers are prone to fraying and splintering when used for braids, basket weavings, or large knots in typical styles of these rugs. The fibers are straw-like and snap easily when exposed to traffic.
Then, use a hand-held vacuum to pick up any small fragments. The upright beater bar can cause damage to the rugs.
The rugs will wear and shed if they are regularly used. Rotate them regularly to ensure even wear and shedding.
ARTIFICIAL SILK (VISCOSE, BAMBOO SILK, BANANA SILK)
Viscose, and all its derivatives of fake silk, are today’s weakest fibers. These are pressed high-gloss paper made from chemically processed cotton and wood waste. These are the most likely fibers to shed or have fiber pulls. The fibers of these rugs in high-traffic areas often look like cat pulls. These strands are weak and can be easily pulled apart.
These fibers can also be negative because they are easily stained and become “mush” when not immediately cleaned. Simple water spills can permanently damage these rugs.
The rugs are considered disposable because they shed constantly. To protect these rugs, apply fiber protectors as soon as they are new. This will help repel spills. The protector will not make the rug bulletproof, but it can help reduce the extent of damage.
Most vacuum cleaners are also prone to damaging these rugs. The best option is to use a lightweight cordless vacuum cleaner that can remove dirt and grit from the rug’s surface without damaging its fibers. Artificial silk fibers cannot conceal dirt, and so become dirty very quickly. Vacuuming is recommended as often as you need to wipe down the counters or sweep your floors.
Here is an article that provides more information on Viscose Rugs and other regenerated cellulose products (rayons, bamboo silks, banana silks, and Tencel).