You just got a new all-wool rug and you love it. It’s the perfect color, it has the exact right pattern, and it’s soft under your feet.
There’s just one tiny problem: your hardwood floor is now littered with wool debris in that gorgeous navy, mint, or other [fill in your rug color here]. Why is this happening to you?
Why is your all-wool rug shedding?
Technically, all wool yarns can shed. This is due to the structure of the fiber. After the wool fiber is sheared, it’s combed and then spun into yarn. The best wool yarn comes from the longest, finest fibers vs. shorter, more breakable fibers. Good wool sheds less than not so great wool.
But the natural shedding that can occur from wool yarns, is not terribly noticeable. So if you are seeing an abundance of fibers coming from your rug, it's probably due to something other than nature of the wool yarn.
If you have a brand new rug, those cloudy tufts can be cut fibers that have been embedded into the face of the rug durning rug production. Durning rug production the length of the pile (rug thickness) is typically much taller than the pile of the finished product. After the rug has been constructed, the hight of the yarns will be cut to the desired pile height. Cutting the pile leaves little pieces of wool fiber buried into the face of the rug. These cut fibers then work their way out of the carpet with use. If you have a new rug, this could be what you are experiencing. Worry not! Shedding of brand new rugs should subside within the first six months or so.
If your rug is not new and suddenly you notice loose wool fibers, it’s almost certainly a tufted rug. In the thousands-year old rug making trade, rug tufting is relatively new. Instead of tying knots on a loom (a slow, careful, and arduous process), the rug-maker uses a tufting gun that shoots the wool fibers into cloth backing. This is a much much faster process. Once the face of the rug is completed, a secondary backing is glued on to secure the fibers in place. So essentially, the rug yarns are glued down.
In time (say, five to ten years, depending), the glue can dry out, causing the rug to start losing its fibers. At the same time, you might notice specks of white powder, which would be the glue itself, now dry. That means two things: 1.) you have a tufted rug, and 2) it's probably close to time to replace.
Unfortunately, this is not the only issue with tufted rugs. They can be difficult to professionally clean (sometimes the backing shrinks and causes the entire rug to buckle) and the backing traps in dirt. In short, as compared to other types of rug construction (hand knotted, flat woven, machine made all wool rugs) they don't represent a great value, and that's why you won't find tufted rugs at Swoon.