Shopping for Non Toxic Rugs

Written by:

Maia James

Image of various non toxic rugs. | Gimme The Good Stuff

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Non-Toxic Area Rug Guide

Graphic of Rug infographic guide. | Gimme The Good Stuff

1. Lorena Canals / 2. Hook & Loom / 3. Earth Weave / 4. Peace Industry / 5. Rawganique

Written by Maia James

You may already know that rugs can bring a lot of unwanted toxins into your home. Even if you don’t have pets or little kids who are face-down in your rugs regularly, the toxins in rugs can migrate into household dust and be inhaled by everyone who lives there. Worse, the international rug industry is notorious for its use of child labor

Don’t despair (and/or hate me for being the messenger of bad news!). There are some safe and beautiful non-toxic rugs out there. We’ve done the research to help you find safe and even organic rugs, free from both child labor and harmful chemicals.  

(If you’re looking for non-toxic wall-to-wall carpeting, we wrote about that here, and you can shop our top pick here). 

What’s Toxic About Most Rugs?

The variety of sketchy materials and chemicals that go into most rugs and related products is actually kind of crazy, and includes: 

  • Synthetic primary materials, which are full of harmful chemicals 
  • “Natural” materials laden with pesticides and other agricultural chemicals 
  • Hidden materials, like synthetic latex, which contains endocrine-disrupting phthalates 
  • Toxic dyes and other harsh, dyeing-related chemicals 
  • Glues and adhesives containing formaldehyde and other offgassing chemicals 
  • Toxic pesticides and fungicides 
  • Flame retardant chemicals 
  • PAFs, which are chemicals found in stain and water-repellant rugs 

Is Ruggable Toxic?

One confusing factor in rug shopping is that not all synthetic materials are toxic (even if they tend to be less Earth friendly). For instance, Ruggable rugs are untreated and should not off-gas in your home, despite being synthetic. They are made from polyester, polyurethane, and unspecified types of plastic.

Ruggable rugs do not make our best list, but they aren’t particularly toxic. Although they aren’t likely to off-gas, the rugs have been given a Prop 65 warning for containing methylene chloride. 

In Praise of Wool

As you consider what type of rug to buy, I want to give a special shout-out to wool rugs. Wool might be the best natural material for rugs. Here are a few reasons: 

  1. Wool holds heat while also being breathable. Wool floor covering can reduce the heat transfer between floor and air space by a factor of 50% compared to other floor coverings. 
  2. Wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture from the air without feeling damp. A wool rug functions as a natural air conditioner. It absorbs moisture in periods of high humidity and releases it when conditions are dry. 
  3. Wool is the most fire-safe textile material used in interior refinishing. Wool is difficult to ignite and forms an insulating char when it burns. Wool also emits far less smoke and toxic gasses than those formed during the combustion of synthetic fibers. 
  4. Wool is a great acoustic insulator. Sound waves penetrate deep into the pile, rather than being reflected back in the room multiple times as they would with hard floors.

Our favorite wool rugs are these. Note: Wool is notoriously hard to dye. Companies like Earth Weave have created innovative ways of coloring wool without the worrisome chemicals.

How to Find Non-Toxic Rugs

Fortunately, there are a handful of truly non-toxic and eco-friendly rug options out there. When you have the option, choose natural fibers (silk, wool, jute, hemp, cotton). In most cases, these are the least toxic rug materials. Your choice will be a rug that’s both safer for you and less harmful to the planet.

Rating rugs is tricky! For instance, synthetic rugs aren’t always “bad”. Nylon, viscose, and polypropylene aren’t toxic, but they are almost always treated with fire retardants that ARE toxic. That’s why you should steer clear of synthetics and avoid polypropylene rugs.

Rugs and carpets can be made exclusively or primarily from natural and safe materials, while still being gorgeous and durable. Also, thanks to greater awareness about child labor, you can buy from several brands that don’t support bad practices.

For truly non-toxic and ethical rugs, look for the following certifications: 

We’ve made it easier for you by compiling a list of our absolute favorite non-toxic, organic, and/or eco-friendly rugs. What follows are the best of the best for ethically made and non-toxic rugs. 

Good Stuff: Where to Find Safe Rugs

Earth Weave

Earth Weave makes area rugs out of their ultra-natural wool carpet material, bound in a variety of sizes.

We sell these in our online store, and have them in our own homes, too.

(We also cover shipping for these rugs, making them more affordable than anywhere else online that we’ve found.)

ecoFiber

ecoFiber Custom Rugs is based in Colorado and sources its rugs from Nepal. The company emphasizes natural, safe materials, sustainable practices, and no child labor. To purchase from ecoFiber, you must go through a design professional.

Hook & Loom

Hook & Loom rugs are both safe and affordable. Rugs are made from undyed natural wool or from recycled cotton fabric. You can choose from a variety of colors, patterns, sizes, and thicknesses.

Last year, Hook & Loom launched an organic line for an even safer, more eco-friendly option.

None of Hook & Loom’s rugs are made with toxins, dyes, or latex.  Rugs ship for free in minimal packaging.

Hook & Loom is based in Massachusetts, and the rugs are made in carefully selected workshops in India that do not employ child labor.

Lorena Canals

Lorena Canals offers my favorite non-toxic rugs for kids, though many of their designs are sophisticated enough to use elsewhere in your home; I have this one in my own bedroom.

These rugs are made entirely from naturally-dyed cotton or wool. They’re machine washable (score for parents!), and are hand-sewn in India in facilities that do not employ child labor.

The variety of colors, shapes, and designs is really fun. It seems like the company is always debuting new styles, which you can now find in our online store.

Merida

Merida has revived a corner of the American textile industry by producing its made-to-order rugs in a traditional mill town in Massachusetts. They make very high-quality, customizable rugs using a variety of natural materials (like wool, mohair, jute, and sisal). To purchase from Merida, you must go through a design professional.

Organic Weave

Organic Weave rugs are the only area rugs on the market to earn GOTs certification. All rugs are handmade in India by skilled women artisans. Organic Weave sells everything from shag rugs to rugs for kids to yoga mats to organic wall-to-wall carpets. Use code GIMMEGOOD at checkout for 5% off your order. 

Peace Industry

Peace Industry rugs are made of 100% wool with toxin-free dyes and have no backing at all. Instead, they are double-sided, which means they are basically reversible and extend the life of the rug. The bad news is that these shipped from Sweden, and the costs reflect that reality!

Rawganique

Rawganique makes 100% organic wool and hemp mix rugs. These non-toxic rugs contain no rubber and are completely untreated with pesticides. The hemp is not dyed and the wool is dyed with eco-friendly pigments.

Non-Toxic Rug Pads & Grippers

Many people strongly recommend that you use rug pads and/or grippers to prevent slipping, increase cushioning, prolong the life of the floor covering, and protect the floor underneath. Unfortunately, most of these products are at least as toxic as conventional rugs and carpets themselves. 

Thankfully, Earth Weave sells natural rug grippers made from 100% natural latex. They also offer natural rug pads made from a combination of wool and plant fiber. These pads include no glues, dyes, flame retardant chemicals, or moth-proofing chemicals. 

Please comment below with brands you’ve found that make natural, non-toxic rugs! 

Stay sane,

Maia, Founder & CEO

Read more about our choices for the safest products for your family here

Note: This article contains affiliate links or sponsored content, which means that if you make a purchase, we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that meet our strict standards for non-toxicity and that we use (or want to use!) ourselves. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Good Stuff! 

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96 responses to “Shopping for Non Toxic Rugs”

  1. martha Avatar
    martha

    Hi Maia (and fam), can you share more about why you recommend/sell Lorena Canals cotton rugs and feel good about their dyes? All I’ve been able to find is that they’re “non-toxic”, which seems very vague, and meet general mainstream safety standards. I love their designs, but want to make sure it’s not greenwashing. Thank you!

  2. Heather Avatar
    Heather

    What is your best wool carpet brand recommendation?

  3. zidane Avatar

    very clear and good article easy to understand. Thank you

  4. Parker Avatar
    Parker

    I am wanting to get a Ruggable rug only because it is going to be on carpet and the pad underneath help keeps the rug from buckling. They say they are non toxic even though they are synthetic but they do have a prop 65. Would you put one of these rugs in your home?