Wool Rug Pros and Cons
Updated for 2022: Have you ever owned a wool rug? if you have, you know that wool fibers feel much more soft and luxurious underfoot than their synthetic counterparts. If you have never owned a wool rug I suggest the next time you are in the market for a new rug consider buying a small affordable one. Wool is a great option in a place where you want a soft landing, like right beside your bed.
There are pros and cons to owning wool rugs. Wool rugs can be a big investment, but they can be so worth the price in certain rooms.
If you’re shopping for a rug and you would consider wool, keep reading for my best tips on where to get them and how to care for them.
Pros and cons of wool rugs
I’ll start with the benefits of wool rugs because I love them so much. Wool is a 100% natural material. Wool fibres have a natural ability to resist dirt, stains and even mold and mildew. Yes, you read that right. Wool as a fabric has a waxy coating that gives it a natural resilience to liquids and dirt.
This might be oversharing, but my first wool rug has seen SO much pet vomit and poop but you would never know it. I’ll talk more later about how to clean your wool rug, but I can personally attest to them being stain resistant. It’s harder to see where you’ve cleaned on a patterned rug, but if you have a solid wool rug it’s better to treat and clean a wider area around the spill.
With proper maintenance, wool rugs can last forever, withstanding decades of wear. Sometimes they are passed down from a family home from generation to generation.
The biggest downside to wool rugs is that they are a big investment. In addition, they might not be the best choice for a nursery, or someplace where you or your young children plan to spend a lot of floor time. They can feel itchy (just like a wool sweater) on your bare feet or if you are laying on them. I’ve seen many people comment about the smell of a wool rug, but I’ve never had that issue with either old ones I’ve bought or new ones.
Types of Wool Rugs
There are different weaves of wool rug. There are hand knotted rugs, hand tufted rugs, hand loomed rugs and machine loomed rugs. Prices vary depending on the amount of detail work required.
Hand-knotted rugs require a lot of manual labor and are very expensive. You can most easily tell the construction of a rug by looking at the back. Hand knotted rugs have a very clear pattern similar to the front on the back. You can see the knots like this rug.
In contrast, this is what a tufted wool rug looks like. It doesn’t have fringe and the pattern doesn’t continue through on the back side. It’s still very thick and has a nice feel underfoot.
Best Sources for Wool Rugs
My favorites places to buy wool rugs that don’t cost an arm and a leg are Overstock, Etsy (for vintage patterned rugs), West Elm, Pottery Barn Teen or Kids (NOT the regular PB, prices are better) and my local rug dealer (which won’t mean much to people outside Dallas).
You probably have a rug seller in your area and it’s the best way to see a larger rug before you buy. In Dallas I like Rugland.
- Pottery Barn Herringbone wool rug, This one comes in 6 colors and the price is great.
- Ballard Designs Kendall Hand Woven Rug, this one is like having a soft sweater under your feet.
- Overstock Nuloom wool rug – Nuloom is a great rug manufacturer. Their rugs are high quality and they have a lot of variety. This rugs comes in eight different colors and as many different sizes.
- Ballard Designs Carli Hand Tufted wool is a bargain and can go in so many rooms.
I choose every product I review. I may earn a small commission if you buy from one of the product links, at no extra cost to you. This income supports this site. See the full disclosure.
How to Clean a Wool Rug
Wool is a stain and water-resistant natural fiber. With that said, I’m not suggesting that you should put a light cream wool rug under your dining room table. If you do and something spills on the rug the first thing you want to do is clean it up as soon as you can.
If it’s been a while, I recommend first scraping off what you can before you add any liquid. This is gross, but I came back from a trip once to find that my dog had been using my wool rug as the emergency toilet. Before I did anything to the rug, I got a dustpan and scraped the solid parts off to avoid rubbing them in with my steam cleaner.
My next step is to use a steam cleaner, if it’s a tough spill or stain. I have a small handheld one like this handheld steam cleaner. They make larger ones, but this one is small enough to store (without having a second vacuum). I use Resolve carpet cleaner, which I’ve found doesn’t damage my rugs. If it’s a more minor spill you can just blot it up with a dry cloth and use Resolve spray without the steam cleaner.
Best Pad For Wool Rugs
It’s a good idea to invest in a carpet pad. A good carpet pad can be worth a lot. It can really make your rug have an even softer cushion feel when you step down. The best rug pads I have found are at Overstock. They are more expensive than the cheapest non-skid rug pads, but they make your rug feel more expensive. Even a thin cotton rug feels better with a nice thick pad under it.
Read more about rug pads and why they matter.
Since wool rugs are one of the more expensive types of rugs, there is one way to cheat and get the look of wool without spending a fortune. Your best option may be to layer a wool rug on top of another less expensive rug. I have a small 5×7 wool rug in my sons bedroom, but it’s not really big enough for the room. The room needs a 9×12. If you buy a less expensive large rug, you can layer a smaller more luxurious wool rug on top.
This is a great post that explains how to layer rugs. Here’s an example from Overstock.com where they have layered a more luxurious wool rug on top of a low pile acrylic rug.
- Overstock wool rug is only $278 for a 9×12.
- Rug on top is a more expensive wool, because it’s hand knotted.
Argument For Wool Rugs
I love wool area rugs. They are a great choice in the right place. They are a large investment but are an excellent choice especially in the bedroom and living room. I think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of wool. They are easy to maintain with just regular vacuuming and with stand up to years of use. I don’t use one in my dining room yet, but I will keep you posted. I think they are worth the price because they feel so nice to step on and they last.
Before you go, if you enjoyed this you might want to read Polypropylene Rugs vs Wool: Which one is right for you?
You left out two huge disadvantages of wool rugs:
1. Tufted wool rugs often shed like crazy, and many never stop shedding. I just got rid of a wool rug that always left its colored fibers in my vacuum cleaner container every single time I vacuumed it. I see numerous complaints about this on Wayfair and other furniture sites as well.
2. If you ever get a case making or web clothing moth infestation in your home and you have a wool rug, they are going to make a beeline for it and use it as their breeding ground. And it is very hard to completely eradicate them from a wool rug. That is another reason why I disposed of my wool rug and replaced it with a synthetic one. No matter how much I vacuumed, cleaned, and used traps, some eggs apparently were still in it somewhere over the winter and then they hatched with the warmer spring weather. Now that I’ve gotten rid of the wool rug, the pad, and wiped my living room floor down a vinegar and water solution, the moths are now gone.
They can also be extremely expensive, especially if you get a hand-knotted one.
Thanks for this perspective. I’ve never experienced shedding with my any wool rugs. Maybe it depends on the weave? I do have one hand knotted one that doesn’t shed at all. As for the moths, I’ve never had this experience either. We do have a few moths but those sticky traps have always kept them under control for us.