Polypropylene Rugs vs Wool: Which one is right for you?

If you do any rug shopping you might be wondering about what type of rug is right for your space. Rug material matters and it’s important to get the right material for the right place in your home.

Rugs are the thing I cherish most, a close second is lighting. Rugs are my favorite things to shop for too because they make SUCH a difference in every room. I’ve researched all different types of rugs and tested them in my home to see how they hold up to traffic, children, pets and being cleaned.

Polypropylene rugs are really great for certain places and wool rugs are good in others. This is a guide for those who are trying to choose between a natural wool rug and one made from polypropylene fibers.

What Are Polypropylene Rugs Made Of?

You may be more familiar the term “Olefin”, which is a popular carpet construction. Olefin is another synthetic fiber, but not all Olefin is made from polypropylene. Both fibers are man-made and known for softness, colorfastness and stain resistance.

Polypropylene rugs are made from petroleum products, just like plastic.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Polypropylene

The biggest advantage of polypropylene rugs is the price. These synthetic rugs are soft underfoot, stain resistant and they are good for high-traffic areas. They are an excellent choice for outdoor use. But are they as good as wool for these same benefits? No!

The main disadvantage is that they don’t last. If you want a rug that lasts for more than 3-5 years, polypropylene is not the right choice.

Synthetic materials like polypropylene are flammable since they are made from petroleum derivatives. Sometimes synthetic carpets and rugs are treated with flame retardant. If you buy a rug that is, beware that the harsh chemicals used are toxic, especially for small children.

Lastly, if you place heavy furniture on top of a polypropylene rug, the markings left behind don’t come out easily or at all.

Polypropylene rugs work great in certain places like:

  • bathrooms – (the rug below is the one in my bathroom)
  • mud rooms
  • in front of a kitchen sink (I prefer a mat)
  • dining rooms, especially if you have small kids
  • outdoor spaces – you can even hose them off if you dry them flat
  • children’s bedrooms – because you tend to change these every few years

Polypropylene is a good choice compared to other synthetic fibers. If you decide to get a polypropylene rug, try to stick with good manufacturers like Safavieh or Loloi. You can find these brands at Rugs-direct.com, Overstock and Amazon.

Targe red vintage rug

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Wool Area Rugs

I have written a lot about why I love wool rugs, but the main reason is that they last a long time and they repel dirt. There’s a wool rug in my mom’s house that has been in use for 50 years. It began its journey in a retail store before she bought it. That’s why wool rugs can be considered heirloom pieces. They work well in high traffic areas.

The disadvantage is that they are very expensive compared to synthetic rugs; a wool rug doesn’t feel like a cheap rug because it isn’t. Sometimes you DO get what you pay for.

Natural fibers are more eco-friendly than man-made fibers. They feel so nice underfoot. I’ve got a wool area rug in my bedroom and in my entry.

Wool rugs are a great option in these spots:

  • master bedroom or any bedroom with kids above about age 10
  • living room (see mine below)
  • entry
how to choose a rug
My living room wool rug

Which Cleans Up Better, Wool or Polypropylene?

Our new puppy experimented with peeing on all of our rugs. 😢 But I’ve also cleaned up frequent spills and even blood on my rugs.

I experimented with taking two smaller rugs outside, one wool and one poly, and hosed them off. Both rugs held their color and cleaned up even after being left to mother nature for several days.

If you take a poly rug outside, be sure to dry it flat. It laid mine over a table to dry and it doesn’t lay flat anymore, but it was only $50 brand new.

If you are cleaning inside, The first thing to do is try to soak up as much of the liquid as possible. I treat the spot with mild dish soap and water first. Neither material is meant to be put into a washing machine (cotton rugs are a better choice for this).

If that doesn’t do the trick I use my Bissell cleaner along with a treatment for carpet cleaning. Resolve is a great choice. Be sure to test a small area to make sure there it doesn’t change the color (which has never happened to me). This takes care of 99% of spills.

If the spill is something that discolors the rug, you can take a rug for professional cleaning. I’ve NEVER had to do this to a wool rug and I don’t think I would bother with polypropylene.

Sum It Up

In general, if I have the budget I will ALWAYS choose wool over polypropylene except for outdoors or in a spot that is temporary. If you have any rug questions you’d like me to delve more deeply into, leave a comment.

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