Rugs: Less Shedding, Please

by Grace Bonney

I’ve been having a bit of an internal struggle lately regarding everyone’s favorite rugs right now, Beni Ourains and Azilals. This classic style has had a major resurgence lately, and rightfully so — they’re gorgeous. But when I finally gave in to my desire to own one, I was struck by how much they shed. I know a period of shedding is common with thick wool rugs, but it’s been over a year now, and it looks like I’m hiding a giant white and gray Bernese mountain dog somewhere in my apartment. My landlord actually asked me if I had a dog because she saw me sweeping white fuzz down the stairs and out the building door. While I love the rich patterns and textures of something so fluffy under foot, I think I’m ready to transition back to flat weave rugs.

While working on my ice cream-inspired roundup this week, I came across these new rugs from Dash & Albert. I have a “summer rug” for my living room that’s from their Cabana stripe collection, and I love it. It’s held up so well, and the color has remained as vibrant as it was a year ago. So my willingness to take a risk with their rugs is pretty high. I love the look of these new pieces, which appear to be inspired by the patterns found in Native American trade blankets as well as more traditional Moroccan rugs. Instead of thick tufting, they’re using a flat weave that, hopefully, will mean less shedding than the original styles. I love all the reds and pinks in the style above, so I’m considering taking that leap. In the meantime, you can check out their latest designs right here. Most styles range from $50 to $2,000, depending on the size. xo, grace

Image above, left to right: Nordic Kilim, Scandia Wool Rug

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  • Dash & Albert rugs hold up fantastically well over time. I’ve bought several at their outlet’s tent sale, held twice a year in Pittsfield, MA. Great quality, easy to clean and still looking good despite the numerous feline related indignities they have suffered.

  • In one of my interior design classes my teacher told us that wool rugs that shed a lot are that way because they are made from dead wool. That means that the wool used was sheared from dead sheep rather than live ones. I’ve had several thick wool rugs that have never shed (seriously), presumably because they were made using live wool. Often it’s hard to know what kind of wool is used, but it’s extremely worth it to find out. Especially since wool rugs can be so pricey.

    • Hi Lisa,

      You’re absolutely right. Many rugs sold in local Moroccan markets, particularly tourist areas, are made of wool from dead sheep. The key is knowing the source of the wool and that can be pretty hard to do, particularly if you’re just interested in getting a rug! With the Anou community (you can check it out here http://www.theanou.com) we’ve recently launched our own supply chain of wool where we sheer our own sheep, thread our own wool and we also dye it all using non toxic dyes. All of this minimizes the shedding that many people just assume will always be bad when it comes to wool rugs, which isn’t necessarily true!

  • i’m torn on this too. i scored an awesome plush rug from anthropologie about a year ago at an unreal price that is a real treat to the eye and feet, but the shedding is the same today as it was brand new….i wonder if it will start to bald the rug out soon?

  • Hi Grace, thanks for the tip. I’ve been thinking about ordering a rug from Dash & Albert but haven’t taken the plunge yet. I too am ready to return to flat-weave rugs or dhurries. We bought a wool rug from Crate &Barrel last April and almost a year later, I still have to vacuum it at least every other day to get a handle on the shedding. I was so disappointed bc it was very expensive (for my budget) and the shedding issue was not mentioned in the Care and Cleaning tips and the sales lady never disclosed it either. I live and learn.

  • what does a flat weave rug feel like underfoot? are they just thinner? (i’m not sure i know what ‘flat weave’ means.)

  • I have had my eye on the Souk Rug from West Elm for the past year. Anyone have experience with excessive shedding with this rug? Thanks!

  • There is a huge difference between good shedding and bad and I teach my clients this all the time. Most wool tufted (cloth backed) rugs will shed forever. Yes, they are cheaper, and that is why. In order to make them at that price point they use a lesser quality wool, which tends to shed forever. I do not sell tufted rugs for this reason, but they are the fad in the industry right now. I tell my clients to buy a nylon or reliable wool machine made or jump up to a hand knotted which can also shed based on wool quality but should get better over time. The solution to the shedding problem is not only to buy a flat weave, but to find a reliable dealer to teach you how and why rugs shed and you will be more equipped to buy in the future. And if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

  • We were SO annoyed with our wool rug’s shedding. I finally took a push broom to it and worked up as much excess as I could. Vacuumed it every day for a week after that, and now it’s great. But after seeing these beautiful rugs…. I want to swap it out!

  • I was looking at these same rugs the other day for the same reason. I have an all wool rug (Martha Stewart Collection from Home Decorators), and it’s still shedding after two years. It makes me absolutely crazy. We have two vintage kilims, and I am dying to replace the shedding rug with the red and pink Dash and Albert. It’s so happy and fun.

    • Mellie Marshall. October5, 2016

      I, too, have a couple of beautiful Martha Stewart Collection rugs that my interior decorator chose when I remodeled my house two years ago. And, yes, they still shed like the dickens. I also have a beautiful nylon rug in my living room that has never shed and is still beautiful after 5 years. Thinking of replacing both wool rugs with nylon, instead.

  • I need a recommendation for a good rug pad for a flat weave rug. It’s sliding underfoot. Where’s the best place for a rug pad for flat weave?

  • @ Lauren G – I have the souk rug from West Elm – so lovely looking and soft, but sheds like a mother!

  • I have a knotted 8×10 dhurrie rug from Crate and Barrel that I bought in 2010 for $1200. It’s the super duper thick version. It. Still. Sheds. Constantly. It’s too thick for normal vacuuming so must be vacuumed on the bare floor setting which only clears off the surface (the vibrating brush of the vacuum’s carpet setting gets clogged immediately). I end up raking it, then vacuuming (bare floor setting) again. Once a month we have to lug it to the deck and try to shake it out just to keep it clean. It weighs a ton. We have had it professionally cleaned 3 times, which made no noticeable difference in the shedding. I love sitting on it, however, whatever clothes I am wearing including socks end up covered in hair. It has to go!

  • Less shedding is a great idea. Homeowners don’t want to spend time dealing with rug hair all over the place. I love the vibrant colors in the purple rug. I will have to add this to my list of faves.

  • I have a couple of Turkish wool rugs – one is about 70 y/o, the other is maybe 25 y/o and fortunately they don’t shed! But we always roll them up in the summer and go with bare floors. Last year, I thought that it looked just a little too bare, and I’m planning to buy a small carpet from Dash & Albert to use in the summer months. I checked out the samples at a store here in Toronto and they’re really very nice. Even the indoor/outdoor carpet looks cool, and they are price point is great.

  • I have a question on the flat weave rugs, if anyone cares to answer:
    The wool dhurrie(?) style that I have is yellow and white, and on a rug pad. It doesn’t shed at all, but I have only had it for about a year and it already looks just….dirty. I don’t wear shoes in the house, and I clean regularly. Other than an expensive professional clean, has anyone any advice to perk it back up?

  • @Dana – Our flat weave rug (from Crate and Barrel) looks dirty all the time. Thank goodness it’s just a runner, so I can pop it in the washing machine. I don’t know what I’d do if it were larger!

    We also have a tufted wool area rug from C+B that sheds constantly, but like another commenter said, a Saturday morning spent with a clean broom to pull out as much fuzz as possible is a good use of an hour. Now, I just vacuum it every weekend and it has gotten much better than last year. Although, in our dining area I actually got an indoor/outdoor rug from Safeviah and it’s perfect – no shedding, no slipping, no staining!

  • Grace, I have sold rugs for eighteen years. If they are handmade, hand knotted rugs they should not shed like that. Tufted, less expensive rugs will shed, it’s one of those you get what you pay for things. A good oriental rug should last for generations, therefore, in the long run it actually costs less. The flat weaves also come with their own problems, curling on the edges and also are not conducive to areas such as dining rooms where chairs are being moved back and forth.

  • Those are superrr pretty :)

    More recently I have been looking to buy some rugs.. anyone know any sites?
    I’ve heard about Rugman.com? Any experiences there?

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