Wool Rugs

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Wool rugs have long been the industry standard for quality floor coverings. This has been true no matter the century, no matter the weaving or manufacturing process, and no matter the style or design. The oldest known surviving hand knotted rug--discovered at a burial site along the Siberian and Outer Mongolian borders after World War II--dates back some 2500 years. It was woven with wool and silk onto a cotton foundation.

Several significant attributes of wool gave rise to its common use in rug making. One is its natural resilience to the elements and wear. Another is its density and body. Another important characteristic is how easily it is worked. Wool is almost without exception used in the knots that make up the pile (or surface) of hand knotted rugs.

Yet another is its relative low cost. Silk, of course, is finer, more flexible, and more luxurious. Silk is and especially was more difficult to come by, hence more expensive. Wool and silk are woven together in many fine rugs, especially antique Orientals. Wool also absorbs dyes very well, and keeps the color well. This is especially so with natural dyes, which tend to mellow in sunlight over many years, but never fade excessively.

FAQs on Wool Rugs

Cleaning wool rugs professionally every several years is a good idea. The rug is first dusted with special equipment to remove broken fibers, dust, and dirt. It is then washed with natural soap, by hand. The rug is then air dried thoroughly. Stains on wool rugs can sometimes be removed with baking soda, salt, or vinegar.


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