Synthetic rugs? Yes, even though we specialize in the cleaning and repair of fine hand woven, natural fiber area rugs at ABC, we are also pleased to clean your area rugs made of synthetic fibers such as nylon, olefin (polypropylene), polyester, acrylic, or any combination of those. Specialized training is required of our staff in all aspects of the care of all types of rugs.
By far, the best fiber for rugs is wool. It is the strongest, most vibrant, and most resilient fiber to be walking on. It always washes beautifully as well. Even a low-quality wool rug will outlast the best synthetic fiber.
But so many homes today have gone to hard surface flooring at least for the main living areas and the opportunity to use many different area rugs abounds. The market is now flooded with all types of rugs, natural and synthetic, handmade and machine made. Synthetic fibers are even being used to create ‘fake’ wool rugs.
That said, there are both pros and cons when it comes to synthetic rugs:
SYNTHETIC FIBER RUGS ARE CHEAP!
This is because there is no labor cost in their production (all are machine made) and the fibers are essentially poor-quality plastic.
A SYNTHETIC RUG CAN USUALLY WITHSTAND HUMIDITY (such as in a bathroom).
In those circumstances a wool or natural fiber rug could buckle or shrink, or worse, become mildewed.
SYNTHETIC AREA RUGS ARE OFTEN VERY DECORATIVE AND SOMETIMES QUITE UNIQUE.
However, the consumer should be made aware of the problems inherent with these rugs as well the fact that they will undoubtedly need to be replaced regularly.
THEY REQUIRE MORE CLEANINGS.
They do not hide soil as well as natural fibers so they will look dirty sooner and will need to be cleaned more often. Olefin, polyester, and acrylic are solid and smooth strands of plastic fibers with no place to hide soil. Soil simply sticks to the outside of the fibers. These rugs get dull faster as a result.
THEY WEAR AND YELLOW FASTER.
Because they are plastic, they do not have longevity, and do not wear well with abrasion. In fact, most wall-to-wall carpet installed in commercial buildings is olefin carpet (because it’s CHEAP!). The next time you are in a commercial building, look at the entryways and high traffic areas of the carpet and you will see how worn down that carpet gets after only a few years. Wear in a carpet can look like dirt.
Olefin (polypropylene) carpet is often sold for homes as well (because it’s CHEAP!), but this is the absolute worst fiber to have for residential homes because it simply does not hold up to foot traffic. Look for nylon instead if you want synthetic fibers for your wall-to-wall carpeting. Olefin, polyester, and acrylic can get worn looking after just a few years on the floor.
THEY ARE STICKY AND SCRATCHY.
(Regular vacuums will not help.) They grab everything and it is tough to get them to release lint, hair, and grime, making them very difficult to clean. Some of these rugs require much more labor to clean, sometimes exceeding what was paid for the rug in the first place. (We always let our customers know if the cleaning will exceed the value of a rug).
Also, because they are plastic, they are not super soft to the touch. They aren’t rugs that feel great when you walk on them with bare feet, and kids are certainly not going to want to roll around on them!
IT IS DIFFICULT OR IMPOSSIBLE TO REMOVE URINE ODOR FROM SYNTHETIC RUGS.
If you have pets that are not properly trained, you will have a problem with synthetic rugs, not because of the plastic fibers but because these plastic fibers are often wrapped around jute. Jute is an absorbent plant fiber that looks like straw. These thick, compacted jute fibers hold odor like no other fiber can. They are the king of odor-holding fibers!
This means if you have any odor issues with synthetic rugs, you have two choices: one, to know that you will have to likely pay quite a bit more to clean and deodorize your rug than you paid for the rug to buy it; or, two, buy another one and hope your pet does not repeat the problem.
This is also the case with cheap wool rugs with backings attached with latex known as tufted rugs. The urine gets into the latex and the backing and cannot be removed. Please see our articles on tufted rugs and disposable rugs.
FYI: With hand woven rugs, removing odors is typically not a problem. A proper wash process thoroughly removes the contaminants from urine exposure or flood exposure from wool and cotton fiber rugs
Olefin fibers are an exception. Although they get ugly with grime, they are pretty much stain proof. Because nothing can penetrate the olefin fibers themselves (they have no 'pockets'), there would technically be nothing to ‘hold’ the odor in them.
SYNTHETIC FIBERS ARE PETROLEUM PRODUCTS, SO THEY ARE NOT SUSTAINABLE RESOURCES.
These plastic fibers are made from petroleum. There are some people who are not aware that synthetic fibers are plastic. They may not want to own them due to political, or environmental, or perhaps health reasons. Wool is a renewable resource. It grows back year after year on the sheep.
Synthetic rugs never look bright and beautiful after a cleaning. If a customer is not made aware beforehand that this could be the outcome of cleaning synthetic rugs, the customer will be sorely disappointed, and we will not have done our job.
If you need a rug that you don’t want to worry about, that you are using for a decorative floor covering, and it looks just right in your home but you know you will want to replace it in a few years, then a synthetic rug or perhaps even a wool tufted may be a good choice.
Decorators and designers like to come up with great 'unique' custom creations for rugs involving all fibers and fabrics imaginable. Today we see many 'shag' rugs made of acrylic, polyester, wool, and leather or a combination of any of them.
Buyer beware though! These are extremely difficult to clean. That is because when a rug manufacturer pieces together incompatible fibers or fabrics, each may require different cleaning chemistry and methods. These rugs need to be cleaned section by section to not create any disasters, and this often takes more time and will cost the owner more money.
Whether constructed of wool, cotton, nylon, polyester, olefin, acrylic or a natural or synthetic blend, our staff will treat all rugs as if they were fine handmade treasures. Please also see We Cannot Clean That Rug!
We assess each rug brought in for cleaning, handmade or machine made, natural fiber or synthetic, so that we can give our best estimate for the outcome of the cleaning. If the cost of cleaning and/or repair would exceed the value of the rug, we always inform the customer, who can then decide whether the work should proceed.
If you have any questions about your rugs, we can be reached by phone or text at 607-272-1566 or just bring in your rugs to our cleaning plant at 130 Cecil Malone Drive in Ithaca.
Please note: A portion of the information and in this article was used with permission from rugchick.com.
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