Natural fibers aren’t just better for the planet; they work in the incredible ways nature does, too. So when you purchase something made from natural fibers, you’re purchasing a naturally stain-resistant, moisture-wicking, odor repellant product.
Most handmade rugs are made from natural fibers like wool and cotton. Let’s take a look at how these natural fibers are so good at what they do:
Most of the rugs we source are 100% wool, meaning they’re naturally stain and moisture resistant. If you’ve ever seen rain drops gathered on flower petals or trees, you’ve seen nature’s moisture-wicking technique in action. It’s the same with wool: when wool comes into contact with a liquid, its waxy coating repels the liquid, and droplets will roll off the surface rather than being absorbed into its fibers, which occurs because of the lanolin oil in the animal fur the wool is harvested from. So if you spill a drink – even wine or coffee – on your rug, you can sop it up the majority of it up with a towel, then spot clean with mild soap and water if there are any remnants. For a more comprehensive post on cleaning vintage rugs, follow this link.
According to a website all about wool, Americanwool.org, wool is so durable that its fibers can bend up to 20,000 times before breaking. It’s no wonder that handmade rugs, which have been made out of natural fibers for centuries, are passed down from generation to generation.
On top of all of that, wool is non-flammable and anti-microbial. Going back to that waxy surface that repels water, it also repels flames and mold, mildew and bacteria. And because of all of that, wool repels odors! It’s really a magical fiber.
While many of our rugs are 100% wool, some Turkish rugs come woven with a cotton foundation (the bottom side of the rug). This means that, rather than the hard-backed synthetic materials that machine made rugs are produced with, a rug made with a cotton foundation will be pliable, and therefore easier to clean either in a tub or by flipping it over on a semi-regular basis to vacuum the back side of it. As you can see in the image above, rugs made with natural fibers are soft and luxurious.
Cotton is not moisture-wicking like wool, but when woven with wool, the cotton foundation will be protected from spills. It's also a sustainable fiber that comes from a plant, so when you purchase something made with pure cotton, you’re supporting farmers and the communities producing the commodity. Plus, the majority of U.S. cotton is grown using only rainfall, rather than drying up our precious water resources. If you want to nerd out about sustainable cotton farming, here’s an approachable article on it.
These sustainably grown fibers can also return to the earth after generations of use, as most natural fibers are biodegradable. That said, you don't see handmade rugs filling up landfills like their machine-made counterparts, which deteriorate and become stained -- and therefore thrown out -- after only a few years.
For all of the reasons above, plus the sheer beauty of the rugs, we are passionate about sourcing rugs that are only made out of natural fibers, and we encourage those who are on the hunt for new rugs to consider doing the same!