Choosing an Area Rug by Fiber Content

Area rugs play a major role in the overall look and feel of a room. They add warmth, personality, color and style underfoot. Rugs anchor a space and help bring all the elements of a room together. Given their importance, you should consider key factors such as budget, durability and maintenance when making a rug purchase. Determine how much you can afford, what kind of foot traffic the rug will receive and the amount of effort you’re willing to spend on routine care and cleaning. Understanding the fiber content of different rugs will ultimately guide you to the perfect rug for your home.

Wool rugs offer the height of comfort and relative ease of maintenance. They do command a premium when compared with other rug materials. Wool accepts dye better than other natural or synthetic fibers giving wool rugs an exceptional depth of color that actually improves over time. It is naturally stain-resistant and durable, making it a good choice for bedrooms, living and dining areas.

Wool rugs do require regular vacuuming. Dirt trapped within the fibers can cause extensive damage and wear to any type rug. For the first few months in your home, you may need to vacuum your wool rug twice a week to keep shedding to a minimum. Spills are easily removed by immediately blotting with a clean, white cotton cloth. Avoid using wet chemical cleaners. It is best to use products specifically designed for wool like dry cleaning powders.

Cotton rugs are softer to the touch, more casual in nature and less expensive than their wool counterparts. Cotton fiber area rugs are a snap to clean but are not quite as durable as wool or synthetics. The fibers contained in cotton rugs have a tendency to break down over time when placed in high-traffic areas. That being said, organic cotton rugs offer the environmentally-conscious consumer a healthy and sustainable option to synthetic materials.

Smaller cotton area rugs can be machine washed. Launder larger sizes in commercial washing machines or dry-clean. Do not place cotton rugs in direct sunlight or in high moisture areas to prevent color fade and fiber deterioration. If placed on hard surface flooring, a rug pad will prevent your cotton rug from sliding.

Flat weave rugs made with natural fibers such as sisal, coir, sea grass and jute are a versatile alternative to more traditional rug materials. Their neutral color and unpretentious style blends well with most contemporary furnishings. Even though they may look rough and uncomfortable, plant fiber area rugs are surprisingly soft and provide just the right amount of cushioning atop tile and hardwood flooring. They are amazingly tough and have the added benefit of being reversible, which minimizes wear and tear.

Care for plant fiber rugs much in the same manner as you would wool. Dab up spills immediately or use a dry extraction powder. Vacuum your rug regularly and don’t forget to pick up the rug and sweep underneath. The open weave of plant fiber rugs allows dirt to fall through to the floor. Plant fibers are susceptible to rot, so keep them out of direct sun and away from areas of high humidity.

Synthetic fiber rugs mimic the look and feel of wool or natural fiber at a fraction of the price. They not only resist stains and fading, they are also impervious to moisture and mildew. This makes them the perfect choice for any room in your house. Their reasonable price point gives you the ability to switch out your rugs as you make changes to your decor. You can also find indoor/outdoor synthetics that look just as chic on the patio or deck.

Vacuum synthetic rugs weekly or at least twice a month. Spot clean with a manufacturer recommended carpet/upholstery cleaner or blot with diluted shampoo or dish detergent to take care of spills and pet accidents. Call in the professionals to clean your synthetic rug every 12 – 18 months.
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