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Shedding area rugs and what to do about them is a customer question that comes up quite often. An area rug may shed for many different reasons. Whether the shedding is due to bad fiber quality, bad construction quality or bad homeowner care, there are still some tips we can offer.

Certain rugs are more prone to shedding than others. There is always the question of whether or not it is okay to pull at that darn loose fiber or cut a portion off, or whether pulling or cutting may do irreparable harm to the rug.

Below are some types of rugs that may shed and some tips on preventing or dealing with the shedding:


The Shearing Process Can Be To Blame

A good quality, standard pile height, hand knotted wool or real silk rug should not shed, but hand knotted rugs are often sheared after the weaving process in order to create the ideal pile height for a particular style.

This shearing process itself can leave small fibers on the top of the rug when it is new, giving the appearance of shedding. Most good quality rug weaving producers will wash their rugs after they are created in order to wash away this residue, but even with this attention to detail, some small cut pieces can be missed.

With the best quality rugs, the shedding will stop very shortly after the sale because any loose cut threads will be vacuumed up. If rug shedding does not stop, it is often the result of poor quality fibers or poor quality construction.

Traditional hand knotted rugs will not shed unless there has been some type of serious damage such as very heavy traffic, water or moth damage. Even if a rug is woven with good quality wool, the shearing process may not be high quality and some strands may be missed in the process. These missed stands can pop up with general use and vacuuming and these areas look as if a cat has clawed at the rug.

What to Do About the Shedding

To be able to tell the difference between good and bad wool, tug at the fiber pulls/sprouts. If it is bad wool, it will pull apart and pull free. If it is bad construction, the entire knot will pull out. If it will not easily pull free, then it is just a missed strand that needed to be cut and you may take your scissors and cut the strand yourself.

Poor Quality Construction-Whole Knot Pulls OutPoor Quality Construction-Whole Knot Pulls Out
Bad Wool Breaks & Sheds in Traffic AreasBad Wool Breaks & Sheds in Traffic Areas

Fortunately, there are extremely high quality wool and silk tufted rugs produced by companies such as V’Soske, Edward Fields, Custom Looms, and other high dollar custom tufted rug creators.

When these rugs have fibers which are pulling away it is due to heavy traffic, aggressive beater bar vacuum damage, or moths.

Poor Rug Shearing on Good Quality RugPoor Rug Shearing on Good Quality Rug


People who purchase shaggy wool or large chunky wool area rugs may actually come to believe that all wool rugs shed. It is important to understand that wool begins as short staple fibers that are spun, twisted, and plied together into yarn. At the core the wool is short strands blended into these longer strand creations. This means the longer and bigger the wool construction, the more likely short strands are going to pull loose, regardless of the quality of the wool in these rugs.

If the quality of the wool in these rugs is very good, the shedding will stop after several months, as all the short strands will have been pulled free and away with use.

If the quality of the rug is poor, it will shed for their lifetime and will wear down thinner in high use areas because they break with use.

What to Do About the Shedding

One tip for shaggier wool rugs is to use a horse hair brush to groom and pull away the loose strands, as vacuuming can be a problem. A beater bar brush vacuum is never a good choice for these rugs. Any vacuuming should be by hand tool.

Another shag and chunky wool rug tip is to take the rug outside and use a leaf blower to fluff up and blast away the dust and other stuff in those fibers (works much better than a vacuum on these rugs).

Chunky Wool Sheds Because of Its LengthChunky Wool Sheds Because of Its Length


Tufted Rug Showing BackingTufted Rug Showing Backing

Tufted rugs are rugs that are held together with a latex glue backing. These rugs have a material covering up the back side.

In India, wool that is not strong enough to use in hand knotted rugs is used in lower quality production wool rugs such as ‘hand loomed’ rugs and ‘tufted’ rugs. These are the rugs being sold through online rug stores for hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars.

With these rugs, if you take your thumbnail and strongly scratch the front wool fibers, you can break them apart, and the texture of the wool is scratchy instead of soft to the touch.

Customers who have had problems with a new rug heavily shedding or having odor issues, 9 out of 10 times the rug is from India. The 10th time the rug is usually from Morocco.

Some tufted rugs are constructed with a hooked style, and loops in areas with heavy foot traffic can break and pop up. Poor quality fibers obviously break more frequently with less friction, but even the best quality fibers can break with constant friction.

Hooked or Looped Custom Rug SheddingHooked or Looped Custom Rug Shedding

What to Do About the Shedding

It is extremely important to not use beater bar brush vacuums on hooked style rugs, or any rugs where poor quality fibers have been used.

Fortunately, there are extremely high quality wool and silk tufted rugs produced by companies such as V’Soske, Edward Fields, Custom Looms, and other high dollar custom tufted rug creators. When these rugs have fibers which are pulling away it is due to heavy traffic, aggressive beater bar vacuum damage, or moths.

Higher Quality Tufted Rugs Can ShedHigher Quality Tufted Rugs Can Shed


Braiding Jute Fiber Causes SheddingBraiding Jute Fiber Causes Shedding
New Sisal Rug Shedding FibersNew Sisal Rug Shedding Fibers

These fibers do not have the longevity of wool, cotton or real silk. They also do not have the flexibility and durability, so they will break and shed in higher traffic areas.

The fibers splinter and fray in the process of creating the braids, basket weaves, or large knots used in the typical styles for these rugs. The fibers have a texture of straw and they snap and break easily in traffic areas.

What to Do About the Shedding

Use a horse hair brush to loosen up small pieces and then follow up with a hand vacuum tool to help pick up the tiny broken pieces. Using an upright beater bar vacuum can sometimes cause too much damage to these rugs.

It is important to rotate these rugs to even out the wear and shedding as these are rugs that will shed and wear down consistently if under regular heavy foot traffic.


Viscose and all of its fake silk derivatives are the weakest fibers in the rug world today. They are chemically processed wood pulp and cotton waste by-products, so they are essentially pressed high gloss paper.

This means that of all of the fibers out there, these are the most likely to shed and have fiber pulls. These rugs look like they have cat pulls usually in the higher traffic areas as the fibers break. You can easily pull these strands apart because they have no strength.

Another negative of these fibers is that when wet from a spill, just like paper they easily stain and can turn to ‘mush’ if not cleaned up immediately. Plain water spills can sometimes permanently damage the texture and shine on these rugs.

These rugs will shed continually, and are considered “disposable” decorative rugs because of these problems.

What to Do About the Shedding

One tip to help protect these rugs is to have fiber protector applied to them when brand new to help try to boost their repellency of any spills and prevent you from having to buy another rug when the first spill happens. Protector will not bulletproof the rug but it will help lessen the extent of the damage.

These rugs are also easily damaged by most durable vacuum cleaners. A better choice is a lightweight cordless vacuum to help pick up and remove surface dirt and grit without tearing apart the rug fibers.

Artificial silk fibers have no ability to hide soil so they dirty quickly and show it, so vacuuming should happen as often as the counters and floors need to be wiped off and swept up.

More information about viscose rugs, please continue reading here.

Shedding Viscose RugShedding Viscose Rug


Please call or text our office at 607-272-1566 with any questions about shedding area rugs. Our staff is always ready to help with the purchase and/or cleaning and repair of any area rug.

Our website has several articles about silk rugs and natural fiber rugs. Please click here for more info.

Information about shedding in area rugs was used with permission from

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Oriental and Area Rug Washing at ABC Oriental Rug 

Rugs on the wash floor are gently scrubbed before thorough rinsing.

Gentle scrubbing continues. Note the wringer in the background-the next step in the washing process after rinsing.

After thorough rinsing, the rug is sent slowly and carefully through the wringer to take out as much of the water as possible before being hung on racks in the drying room. 

Rugs are hung on a rack in the temperature controlled drying room until completely dry.