How to Clean Wool Carpet and Area Rugs

/ Sep 2022

Wool is the most commonly used natural fiber in carpeting. Wool carpets are spun from sheep’s wool, then turned into yarn. It is an environmentally friendly carpet made from natural wool without using chemicals. When properly maintained, wool carpets can last up to 25 years. They are one of the hardest-wearing types of carpet because they have good texture retention, the ability of the fiber to maintain its original appearance. Unfortunately, many do not seriously consider wool carpets and rugs due to the large amount of misinformation that is dispersed about cleaning and care requirements. But it really isn’t as hard as others make it out to be. By following the steps we have outlined below and taking the proper precautions as noted, you can easily deep clean your wool carpets without fear of damage or the huge cost that comes with hiring a carpet cleaning service. Deep cleaning your wool carpets and area rugs will revive and refresh them and make them look beautiful, longer.

What are the benefits of wool carpets and area rugs?

Wool carpets and area rugs have many benefits that make them a worthy carpet choice. Wool carpets are hypoallergenic. All carpet can trap allergens and prevent them from being air born, but some are better suited for trapping particles than others. Wool is a great choice for those who suffer from allergies and asthma. Since wool is so dry and has coil-shaped carpet fibers, it lacks moisture, making it difficult for dust mites, a major trigger for those with allergies and asthma, to survive. Sometimes the chemicals in synthetic carpet can also aggravate allergies and asthma, as well as skin conditions like eczema. Since wool is all-natural and chemical free, it could be a better choice for individuals with these conditions (if you are not allergic to wool).

Wool is naturally resistant to soiling and oil-based liquids. It contains naturally occurring oils (lanolin). These oils make the wool fibers resistant to dirt and other oil-based soiling from things like grease, peanut butter, cooking oils and crayons.  

Wool carpets and area rugs have a durable, but pleasant texture. Many times with carpet, you must sacrifice soft texture for durability or vice versa. That is not the case with wool carpets and area rugs. Wool is soft and pleasant to the touch, but it does not flatten easily. Wool flooring is more resilient to the forces of wear and tear, making them perfect for high-traffic areas.

Wool is also flame-retardant and doesn’t melt. Its higher ignition temperature makes wool much more difficult to ignite. Wool has high nitrogen and water content, so it needs higher levels of oxygen to burn than the surrounding environment provides. Because of the naturally flame-resistant fibers and because wool does not melt, drip or stick to the skin when it burns, wool offers a greater level of fire safety than other fibers.

As mentioned earlier, wool carpets are environmentally friendly. They are also sustainable. Wool grows on sheep or similar animals that require regular shearing. Shearing is required in the care of these animals, so there is always a fresh supply of wool available for the carpet industry. This makes the material 100% natural and sustainable. It is also a biodegradable material in soil, producing plant nutrients as it degrades.

Are there cons to wool carpets and area rugs?

In our opinion, the benefits outweigh the cons when it comes to wool carpets and area rugs. However, there are some problematic aspects that need to be considered when deciding to purchase wool area rugs or carpets.

Wool can be three times as expensive as other carpet fiber options. The high cost of wool carpets arises from the processing and production of a more luxury product. Yet, when properly maintained and well cared for, wool carpets are likely to survive longer than other materials.

Soiling and staining are two different concerns regarding carpet. A soiled spot on the carpet has the appearance of a stain but is not necessarily the result of a spill. Soiling is the result of a residue or oily substance on the carpet fibers, which then attracts dirt particles. As discussed earlier, wool is resistant to soiling due to naturally occurring oils in the wool fibers. However, wool is less resistant to staining than other carpets. Staining is caused by discoloration from a spilled liquid substance like wine or juice. Because wool is so absorbent, it is prone to stains by non-oil-based liquids, especially those with strong pigmentation (or color). Following protocols as noted in the next section can help prevent stains from setting in wool carpets and becoming permanent.

How do you deep clean wool carpets and area rugs?

Deep cleaning your wool carpets and areas rug can extend the life of the carpet as well as revive and rejuvenate the look and feel. It is recommended you deep clean every 6-12 months by extraction. Extraction carpet cleaning involves using a machine that injects water and cleaning formula solution into the carpet and then uses suction power to extract it while also extracting all the dirt, grime, stains, and allergens trapped deep within. Rug Doctor Pro Deep Carpet Cleaner is an extractor carpet cleaner that is rated by the Carpet and Rug Institute as the same as the truck-mounted systems professional carpet cleaning services use to deep clean carpets. Rug Doctor gives you the ability to clean it yourself, on your terms, all while achieving the same professional-level results as hired services for a fraction of the cost. You can find a rental location near you using our rental locator.

Follow these steps to clean your wool carpets and area rugs effectively and safely. Take special mention of the warnings and precautions noted with an asterisk (*) in the steps below to prevent harm to the wool fibers and to get the very best clean. Before trying any new carpet cleaning routine, test a small, inconspicuous patch of your carpet first. That way, you know your carpet is colorfast and you’ll achieve the desired result.

  1. If you are cleaning an area rug, use a broom or rug beater to gently beat the rug. If it is a manageable size to move, hang it outdoors and gently beat it from the back. If not, flip it over on the floor and lift one section at a time. Make soft, but rapid strokes to remove embedded dirt. Then return the rug to the room it its original position.
  2. Vacuum the wool carpets or area rug to remove loose dirt and debris.
  3. Pre-treat any spots or stains with an appropriate carpet cleaner. For especially stubborn stains and odors from spills, dirt, and grime, and for high-traffic areas like entryways, we recommend Rug Doctor Spot + Pre-Treat. Follow directions as indicated on the bottle.

*It is important to keep a ready-to-use spot cleaner on-hand when you have wool carpets or area rugs. Wool fibers are extremely absorbent, making them highly susceptible to stains. It is important to have the ability to act quickly when a spill or accident happens. The longer it sits untreated, the harder it will be to remove. Time is of the essence when cleaning spills and accidents on wool carpets and area rugs.

  1. Deep clean the intended area with the Rug Doctor Pro Deep Carpet Cleaner. Follow set-up, cleaning, and return instructions as indicated on the instruction labels located on the machine, or read our instruction manual online.

*It is important to run several “dry” passes when cleaning wool carpets and area rugs to accelerate dry time and prevent over-wetting. Over-wetting is major concern because it can cause shrinkage.

  1. Ventilate the room well and use air movers or blowers in strategic positions to facilitate drying, when possible. If cleaning a size-manageable wool area rug, hang or elevate the rug to dry.

Wool carpets and area rugs can be just as easy to keep clean as other carpet fibers and are a lovely choice for any home. We would love to hear about your wool carpets and area rugs cleaning experience. Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Now you can also find us on TikTok.