Why You Should Not Use Wool Rug Pads
In my thirty years in the area rug industry, I have come to appreciate the benefits of wool in most types of rugs. Wool is very durable, cleans easily and last a very long time if properly cared for. While I love it in area rugs, I cannot say the same for it when used in the manufacture of rug pads. When we think of how a rug pad is used, we think of it out of sight, under the rug and doing what it should be doing – That’s one of the benefits of a rug pad in that it offers so much value while being completely covered by its area rug. There lies the problem with using a pure wool rug pad – It is completely covered by a rug. Yes, believe it or not, while it is perhaps the most expensive type of padding, wool rug pad is not practical for use under any area rug.
When customers buy their wool area rugs, they ask me about caring for the rugs and my answer is quite simple: caring for finer wool area rugs is relatively simple, as you should vacuum them regularly, clean spills with soap and water and rotate them once a year if possible. In regard to an overall cleaning, this should be done once every 3-5 years. While caring for your wool rugs is fairly easy, there is one stipulation that I always advise customers of and that is not to completely cover any part of the rug. For example, if your rug is in your living room and your sofa sits on it and the sofa has a skirt to the floor, be sure that the part of the rug under this skirt gets exposed to the elements. When we cover a wool rug from any daylight, foot traffic or airflow, we are inviting moths to germinate in that part of the rug – Moths love wool and they love it when the wool is covered! I always advise my customers that if they have to cover a part of their rug, to be sure to vacuum that part at least twice a month. If you can even move the sofa, if that’s the furniture sitting on the rug, then do so for a few hours a month. The point is that if any part of your wool rug is protected from airflow, daylight and foot traffic, then be sure to change this once in a while and show it some light, walk on it and vacuum it.
When we take this theory and think of your wool rug pad, it is completely covered by your area rug and receives no daylight, traffic, airflow or vacuuming, hence making it very susceptible to moth germination. Furthermore, if the rug on top of the wool padding is also made of wool, the moth will travel from the pad to the rug, creating a potential disaster within the rug, as wool begins to fall out of the rug. Moths attack the rug from the knots, or back of the rug, and when they eat away at these knots, since the knots are what hold the rug together, the face fibers literally fall out. You may notice this when you vacuum or if you rub your hand across the face of your rug – Wool fibers from the rug just come right off because once the moths eat the knots on the back, there is nothing holding the wool in place.
How to Prevent Moth Damage to Your Rug and Pad
One of the easiest ways to prevent potential moth damage is to not use a wool rug pad. There are great felt rug pads available that will not cause any harm and will keep moths away. Some felt rug pads contain a mix of wool fibers and nylon and as long as there is some other fiber with the wool, moths will not be a threat, as they mainly want only the wool and will not eat through the other (non-wool) fiber. Of course, if your area rug is all wool, while the non-wool rug pad will not present any moth danger, your wool rug still can. You need to take care a I explained earlier and pay extra attention to any parts of your rug that are completely covered from light and traffic.
Make Random Checks of Your Rug Pad
Whether you have a pure wool rug or a mix of fibers, it is always a good idea to perform a random check of your rug pad and floor. Once in a while when you think of it, lift a corner of your rug to expose the rug pad and lift the rug pad to check on your floor – The rug covers the pad and floor all of the time, so it is a good idea to know what’s happening underneath it all and in most cases, nothing happens, yet it is better to be safe than sorry.