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How Does Wool Carpet Compare to Synthetics?

In today's blog post, we discuss how wool carpet compares to synthetics.

The majority of carpet made today contains face fibers made of synthetic materials such as nylon, olefin and polyester. Less than 1% of all installed carpets in the United States are made of wool.

Wool costs more to produce, process and dye. It takes more time, labor and effort to raise, feed and care for sheep than it does to extrude synthetic fibers. Sheep live outside, sleep on the ground and have natural oils in their wool. Fleece just removed from a sheep is known as "grease wool" and contains a high level of body oils (lanolin), dirt, dead skin, sweat residue, and vegetable matter. The fleece must be scoured to remove these contaminants from the wool.

Not all sheep are the same. Therefore wool from many sheep must be carefully blended to achieve the consistency of texture, color and appearance required for making carpet and rugs. The wool fibers must be combed and stretched through a process called carding so that they are in general alignment with one another. After going through these steps the wool is ready to be spun into yarns for making carpet and rugs.

Synthetic fibers do not need to be sheared, scoured, blended or carded. So if synthetic carpets are easier, faster and cheaper to make, why go through all of the trouble to produce wool carpets? And why would anyone choose to pay 2 or 3 times more for carpets made of wool? Aside from the luxurious look and feel, wool has some amazing characteristics that make it quite desirable as a floor covering.

Since wool has a natural crimp, wool yarns have more bulk than synthetic yarns. This results in carpets that feel softer to walk on. The additional bulk retains air and creates valuable thermal insulation, making wool feel warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Wool has an amazing capacity to absorb moisture from the air, holding up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling moist. During periods of high humidity wool absorbs moisture and releases it as humidity levels decrease, acting as a natural humidistat. Since wool retains moisture, it is also naturally resistant to static electricity. Wool does not support flames and once ignited, quickly self-extinguishes.

If you would like to learn more about what kind of carpet you have in your home, call KleenRite today at (217) 351-4930.


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