Curbside pickup, contactless delivery, and extended returns. Learn more

Why Do Rugs Shed?

Photo by Ciprian Boiciuc on Unsplash

Months of pinning ideas for your new décor. Countless hours searching for the rug that will tie it all together. And then success — just the right thing for just the right price. But when you get it home, there’s a problem. The rug sheds. And sheds. And sheds. And no amount of vacuuming or brushing seems to alleviate the problem. 

Why do rugs shed?

Sometimes, shedding happens briefly with a new rug and will stop within a couple of months, after light vacuuming and normal wear. If your rug is still shedding, then there are two main contributing factors:

The material and the make. 

There are two main factors that influence shedding


Poor quality material is one of the most common causes of shedding rugs. It breaks, wears or sloughs apart. Even among wool, there can be a drastic difference in quality. Sheep reared high in the mountains have long hair, naturally rich with lanolin wool to keep them warm and comfortable in high altitudes. Wool from these high-altitude sheep is used to weave rugs of a very high, durable quality. Wool from the sheep in lower lands tends to be coarser than their highland cousins and is of a lesser quality. If these sheep are sheered too often and the wool is left short, in order to make the yarn usable, adhesives will be added to bring these short wool pieces together. The adhesive breaks down over time, and these little pieces begin to shed.

How do you know if the rug you like uses poor materials?

The first indicator is whether they're natural fibers. Natural fibers like wool wear better over time and are easier to clean and repair. The second indicator is price. Finer materials cost more to source, which is often reflected in the price of the rug. A very inexpensive rug is usually made of inexpensive — and ofter lower quality — materials.


The second most common cause in shedding is how a rug is actually constructed. There are a number of different ways to make a rug, and the difference in quality comes down to whether a rug is:

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 therefore, 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 not uncommon for your rug to shed. 

So what do you do about it?

Read our post on how to manage a shedding rug.


Shop Hand-Made Rugs with Natural Materials



Erin Eisinger
Erin Eisinger


Floorplan CEO and Co-Founder. Designer. Storyteller. Entrepreneur.