I receive many calls each week from consumers who complain that the rug they have purchased continues to “shed”. Some have even said that they have filled up their vacuum several time with this “fuzz” and wonder if they will have any carpet left in a few more months. The first thing I usually ask is what the carpet is made of, and the label will always state that it is 100% wool. Furthermore, it is usually a machine loomed (or power loomed) thick cut pile rug. Although I love wool because of its durability, it is difficult to assess the performance of any rug without comparing it to one of high quality. There is a test you can do before making a purchase, or in your home.
Quality test: Perform this before you make the purchase. The purpose of this test is not so much to determine what type of wool your rug is made of but to check the quality. A fairly accurate test is the “agitation technique.” Take a firm and hard hand to the face of your carpet. In an approximately 1 square foot area, agitate the pile vigorously back and forth a dozen times with both the tips of your fingers and palm using heavy and steady pressure forward and backward lengthwise on the carpet (with and against the pile direction). FYI: “shedding” is a natural occurrence in many rugs. However, if your rug continues to shed for an extended period of time (several months or more) an inferior wool was most likely used in production or the knotting technique is inferior. This is NOT a defect, but rather a characteristic of your rug due to the price point.
When I use the term “inferior wool”, it is in reference to the length of the fibers. Longer fibers make a better yarn when they are spun because they can be twisted tighter. The yarn spun from shorter fibers is not as strong, and will break apart under normal usage which causes the shedding. When harvested, the longer wool fibers are separated into a higher caliber batch to be spun into a more expensive yarn, while the shorter fibers are collected to be spun into a less expensive yarn that has the same look and feel.
Note: As a general rule, if your rug was purchased at a home improvement center or an mass producing outlet store, there is good possibility the wool is of lower quality. Even though they are really heavy and dense, these mass produced rugs are lower in quality than the rugs you will find at a reputable rug dealer. In short, if you are buying a rug to collect, it would be a better investment of your money to purchase a fine quality “hand knotted” rug, but remember the price will be high for a rug that can last for generations.
For really in-depth information on rugs, go to Feizy Rugs and you may look at them differently.