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Rug shedding + what to avoid

You did it! You found the right rug for just the right price. But when you got it home... the rug shed. And shed. And shed. And no amount of vacuuming or brushing seems to alleviate the problem.

What causes a rug to shed?

You're probably wondering: what is going on with this rug! Sometimes shedding happens briefly with a new rug and stops after light vacuuming and normal wear. If your rug is still shedding after a couple of months, then there are two main contributing factors: the material and the make.


Rug material varies in quality, even among wool. Wool from sheep reared high in the mountains is used to weave rugs of a very high, durable quality. Wool from the sheep in lower lands tends to be coarser and is of a lesser quality. If these sheep are sheered too often and the wool is left short, adhesives are added to bring these short wool pieces together. The adhesive breaks down over time, and these little pieces begin to shed.


The other major factor is how the rug was made.

Hand-made rugs are crafted from techniques that give structural integrity to pieces: hand-knotted rugs are made from hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of threads knotted to the rug’s cotton or wool foundation. Hand-woven rugs are made by repeatedly passing a warp through the carpet’s weft. These techniques insure that every part of the rug is integral to the rug’s structure, and less likely to come apart.

More modern techniques are more about assembling pieces than weaving strong, durable rugs. For example, in hand-tufting, a tufting gun is used to shoot fabric “tufts” through a plastic grid. These rugs need to be backed with a polymer or glue to keep the tufts in place. Not only is the wool of lesser quality, the backing material can deteriorate and both the backing and pile will begin to shed.

Machine-made rugs are made at incredible speed on a machine similar to a newspaper ream, and usually from polymer-based materials to survive this process. These synthetic materials breakdown as would other petroleum-based materials.

When you combine lower quality wool or synthetic materials with modern rug-making techniques, it’s common for your rug to shed.

Have you seen our low/no-shed collection?

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So what do you do about it?

The best thing? Buy a hand-knotted or hand-woven rug made of natural materials.

If that’s not an option, or it’s too late for that, then you need to play good defense. There’s no perfect method to stopping shedding, but you can reduce it by preventing any further damage to your rug.

  • Lightly vacuum it regularly, going with the grain of the pile and not against it.
  • Don't use a heavy beater bar or use the vacuum on the setting closest to the ground.
  • Use a high-quality rug pad under the rug to absorb shock and reduce further damage to the pile.
  • If possible, move it to a low-traffic area.

Remember, a tufted rug is not meant to last more than a few years, so when it’s time to upgrade, look for a hand-knotted, hand-woven, or hand-loomed rug. Always look for natural materials.

Ready for a house with rugs that don't shed? Shop our vast collection of handmade rugs.