A guide to wool carpet: The pros & cons and how to care for it

There’s nothing more comforting than padding around on fluffy wool carpet with your bare feet, especially if the carpet happens to be new.

Wool carpet is renowned for being uber comfy and made to last. Some people even view it as being a luxury purchase because it can be pricier than non-wool carpet. Overall, there’s a massive following and demand for wool carpet, whether it’s wool loop carpet or wool twist carpet.

The history of wool carpet

Wool carpet manufacturing sits at the very core of the carpet industry.

The very first carpets, or rugs, were indeed made from sheep wool or goat hair as far back as 2,000BC.

Used in the Middle East, these floor coverings were designed to make sitting on the floor more comfortable. They were also used for decorative purposes too.

Carpet-making rapidly evolved over the centuries and was spearheaded by trading and the Crusades that led to it making its way into France and the UK in the 1500s, with the first UK carpet factory reportedly opening in Wilton in 1655.

The Industrial Revolution was responsible for taking carpet-making from a cottage to the thriving commercial industry we’re all familiar with now.

Advances in techniques, equipment and materials have all meant carpets are no longer just produced using simple natural fibres, such as wool, but readily-available synthetic materials, such as acrylic and nylon.

And, of course, the range of colours and patterns available to us has also evolved over the years too.


Before we move on to the next section, it’s worth mentioning that there are two main types of wool carpet

  1. 100% wool
  2. 80/20 wool mix carpet - which is a blend of wool and man-made fibres

These carpets are often referred to as ‘wool mix’ or ‘wool blend’ carpets. For more on wool carpet options, take a look at this article, ‘10 of the best wool carpets.’

 

What are the advantages of wool carpet?

Given the fact the carpet industry has evolved so much, it would be easy to overlook wool carpet as a carpet choice. But for all the options that are now available to us, wool carpet still remains a firm favourite for so many reasons, including these:

  1. Inner strength – it may sound odd referring to carpet as being strong, but it’s a really important point. Wool carpet, in particular, is known for having in-built elasticity from the wool, which means it doesn’t suffer massively from pile compression.
  2. Dirt-resistant – believe it or not, wool is resistant to dirt and naturally repels oil because it contains natural oils. What’s more, wool is an opaque (non-transparent) fibre, which means it’s really good at masking marks.
  3. Comfortable – luxuriously bouncy and soft, wool carpet is the epitome of comfort. Because it’s a natural fibre, it’s also naturally warm and offers great insulation (heat and noise) too.
  4. Fire resistant – wool is naturally fire-resistant and, if it does set alight, it will happen extremely slowly. This is why it’s a popular flooring choice for commercial buildings. Interestingly, wool carpet that’s on fire doesn’t burn, but melts, which can help reduce the fire from spreading.
  5. Sustainable – the wool for woollen carpet comes from sheep, who naturally need shearing every year. Meanwhile, wool is also biodegradable in soil, producing plant nutrients, including nitrogen, sulphur, carbon dioxide and water.

 

What are the disadvantages of wool carpet?

For all the advantages, there are some things you should consider, such as:

  1. Cost – as we mentioned earlier, wool carpet does come with a larger price tag. This is mainly due to all the processing and production that’s involved, bearing in mind it is more of a luxury investment.
  2. Non-oil stains – wool may be great at repelling oil-based stains, but it can be really easily stained by non-oil-based liquids that contain strong pigments, for instance, wine and coffee, that grip to the wool.
  3. Fading – wool carpets are prone to being stained by the sun. A carpet that’s constantly in strong sunshine for several hours a day will unfortunately become discoloured over time.
  4. Shedding – just like it would on a sheep, just not so extreme, wool carpet sheds. Wool carpets release fibres that get sucked up by your vacuum, especially when they are new. The shedding does subside over time.
  5. Absorbency – if you think about what wool’s naturally designed to do (protect sheep from the elements), you won’t be surprised to hear that wool carpet is highly absorbent; just like a sponge. If you spill water on it, it’s difficult to get out, which can lead to mould forming.
How do you maintain a wool carpet?

You may be thinking wool carpet’s tricky to take care of, but it’s easy to do once you know how!

  • To clean dirt – dry soil (e.g. sand and grit) can easily be removed with your vacuum. 
  • To clean sticky dirt - e.g. wet mud, it’s best to use dedicated wool carpet cleaning products or arrange for your carpets to be professionally cleaned.
  • To remove liquid stains – use a clean cloth to soak up as much of the spill as you can. Do not scrub the stain because it will damage the fibres and push the stain further down. Dab it instead. 

Alternatively, you can use water or wool carpet-compatible cleaning products, remembering to spray the product on your cloth and not directly on the carpet. Spraying the carpet will make the stain deeper and encourage it to spread.

How often should you vacuum wool carpet?

If you want to stay on top of preventing dry soil from building up, it’s best to vacuum your carpet at least once a week.

Using a vacuum with soft bristles and strong suction will help extend the lifespan of the fibres. When it’s first been fitted, vacuum it every day for a week to fully remove any dirt produced during installation.

Can you steam clean wool carpet?

Absolutely.

In fact, it’s highly recommended to help keep wool carpets in tip top condition!

The overall guidance on this is to steam clean wool carpet every 12 to 18 months. If you were to do it more regularly, it could damage the natural wool fibres.

Does wool carpet wear well?

Yes it does, providing you vacuum them regularly, particularly in high traffic areas, and keep on top of any spillages or marks the moment they happen

If looked after properly, wool carpets can last for 20 to 25 years.

Published: 12th July 2022