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Shopping for Non-Toxic Area Rugs

Written by Maia James

You may already know that rugs can bring a lot of unwanted toxins into your home. These toxins are of special concern if you have babies and young children who spend a lot of time rolling, crawling, and playing on the floor. 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 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 area rugs. (If you’re looking for non-toxic wall-to-wall carpeting, we wrote about that here, and you can shop our top pick here).

Rug_Infographic _Guide_1600x1200

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

 

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, including plastics like polypropylene and nylon. And “natural” materials — like cotton and wool — that are not carefully sourced can be laden with pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. What can be confusing 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. When you have the option, choose natural fibers (silk, wool, jute, hemp, cotton) as in most cases this is going to be a rug that’s both safer for you and less harmful to the planet.
  • In addition to the primary materials, rugs usually also include materials that are hidden from the eye but integral to the product. This can include synthetic latex that contains endocrine-disrupting phthalates. Some rugs from West Elm (like this one) are made of 100% wool, which is great, but then the backing contains synthetic latex.
  • Toxic dyes and other chemicals used in the dying process give area rugs their good looks. This is particularly true for conventional wool products; wool naturally resists color and has to be treated to extra-harsh chemicals to achieve different colors. (Note: Companies like Earth Weave have created innovative ways of coloring wool without the worrisome chemicals.)
  • Glues and adhesives often can contain formaldehyde and other chemicals that off-gas into the home environment.
  • Toxic pesticides and fungicides are commonly used to keep rugs free of bugs and mold.
  • Flame-retardant chemicals are also typical in synthetic rugs. For instance, nylon, polypropylene and viscose aren’t toxic in and of themselves, but they are almost always treated with fire retardants that ARE toxic. (You can read lots more about flame retardants in our Mattress Guide.)
  • Rugs that boast about being stain-resistant and water-repellent often get those properties from yet another class of worrisome chemical known as PAFS.

In Praise of Wool

As you consider what type of rug to buy, I want to give a special shout-out to wool 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. This can result in energy savings.

2) Wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture from the air without feeling damp. A wool rugs functions as a natural air conditioner that 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 from a smooth hard surface.

Our favorite wool rugs are these.

8 Companies That Make Non-Toxic Rugs

Fortunately, there are a handful of truly non-toxic rug options out there. 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. What follows are the best of the best for ethically made and non-toxic rugs.

Earth Weave

Earth Weave Catskill Area Rug - Heron

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.)

Shop Earth Weave Rugs


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

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.

Shop Hook & Loom


Lorena CanalsLorena Canals Washable Rug Atlas Natural - Vintage Blue from Gimme the Good Stuff

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.

Shop Lorena Canals Rugs


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

Peace Train Organic Weave Rug Gimme the Good Stuff

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. 

Shop Organic Weave Rugs


Peace Industry

Peace Industry Rug Gimme the Good Stuff

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 malibu-natural-rug-20210114-_Z6N9153-2

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.

Shop Rawganique Rugs


Non-Toxic Rug Pads & Grippers

Rug and carpet people 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. 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 (and 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_signature

 

 

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90 responses to “Shopping for Non-Toxic Area Rugs”

  1. How do you feel about recycled Polyester rugs like at Burrow?

    1. Hi, do you have a suggested list for outdoor rugs?

  2. Are the Ruggable pads non-toxic? Their website says you must use their pads, which they say are synthetic thermoplastic rubber, similar to a yoga mat.

    1. Oye, okay that is a problem. I would avoid synthetic rubber.

  3. what are you thoughst on ikea rugs? the non-wool ones (the 100% polypropene ones)?

    1. I would love to know about IKEA rugs as well…very curious, especially since we have many of them in our apartment! Thank you 🙂

  4. Just want to plug Hook and Loom rugs! The most excellent and responsive customer service, and the rug was soooooo soft for my littles at home. Totally recommend!

    1. so glad to hear that you had a good experience!

  5. Hello, I ordered a rug from Lorena canals that comes with a gripper, but I believe the gripper is made of pvc. How toxic is that and do I need to contact the company to determine if the rug pad is treated with anything?

  6. Hi! I am trying to understand why all wool rugs are not non-toxic. What makes a wool rug toxic vs. non-toxic? Thanks!

  7. Hi, I would like to know if anyone else has has a problem with Hook & Loom? I’ve purchased 4 rugs from them and every single one smelled like mold. I even set them out to air out for weeks and still I can’t have them in my house. I’m so disappointed because I have multiple sensitivities and wax so hoping these would work. I purchased the cotton ones. Again I’m on a search for rugs ugh

  8. Hi! This was so helpful, thank you so much. One question– is there anything to look out for with regard to cotton backings? I am confirming there is no latex or glue in the back but wondering if I should ask anything else. Thank you so much!

    1. Nope, if it’s a cotton backing that is fine:)

  9. Thank you so much for this helpful article – I ended up choosing Hook & Loom and couldn’t be happier!! As someone with debilitating chemical sensitivities, I searched high and low for a rug that would truly fit my needs (after learning that most “natural” rugs are sprayed with chemicals). I got the thick wool flat weave and couldn’t believe when I unrolled it… not only was it gorgeous, but it literally smelled like NOTHING. The gripper pad had a slight natural rubber odor as expected, but it didn’t bother me (and vanished when covered by the rug). I am truly floored, and so so grateful to have found this company that offers such high quality at a price point that was at least within reach for me! Just incredible.

  10. Thoughts on Ruggable?

    1. I’d love some thoughts on this as well as I’ve heard some mixed opinions.

    2. They are synthetic, but untreated with other chemicals, so not a bad option, actually.

  11. Nontoxic rugs are very important to you and youre family. especially your children if you have.
    Id rather use nontoxic, organic.

  12. What is the name/website for Linda’s rug company that you said you now recommend??

  13. How can I find out how safe Company C wool rugs are?

  14. I am looking for rug grippers for use under rugs on Luxury Vinyl Plank in the kitchen and bathrooms

  15. Hi would a nylon Oeko-Tex rug be considered safe? Thanks.

    1. Yes, the Oeko-Tex certification is a good one.

  16. Thanks for this post! Are you familiar with UV stabilizers? I know some polypropylene rugs are treated with Hals 770 UV Stabilizer to resist sun fading. I’m betting they’re bad news, but since you didn’t mention them, I wonder. . .

  17. Hate to be frank here, but none of these are affordable. A family of four on a family-of-four budget with both parents making modest income still find the prices on all of these vendors ridiculous. Yes, I think we all would love a non-toxic area rug that won’t give my kids cancer. Ywt, $2000 or $1000 is just way too much. Wish you had some affordable suggestions on this list.

  18. Hi! Thank you for posting this. Any thoughts on the Whitfield rugs?

  19. I’m also interested in a nontoxic doormat! Any suggestions?

  20. Claire are the rugs still shedding?

    Thanks!

  21. Hi, I ordered a cotton rug, but am wondering what can be done if it’s covered in pesticides or other chemicals? I confirmed there is no glue involved so it is supposed to be formaldehyde-free. Does it just need to be shampooed? Dropped off at dry-cleaner? It’s an 8×10 so it won’t fit in the washing machine…Thanks so much for any advice!

  22. Hi. I have not heard back from you since we bought you the vacuum you requested. I believe it does have a beater bar (revolving cylinder with rows of stiff brushes) which can be raised so it doesn’t contact the rugs and dislodge fibers. Please contact me if you would like more help. Thank you

  23. Would a polypropylene rug that is oeko-Tex certified be considered safe?

    1. Yes, that would be acceptable in my opinion. Thanks!

  24. Can you recommend a nontoxic doormat?

  25. What about West Elm rugs? How about NuLoom?

    1. My understanding is that only some of the rugs from both of those companies are oaky….. I’m still confused by it though!

  26. Found a sweet collection of contemporary rugs. You should definitely check it out https://therugmall.com/contemporary-area-rugs-best-rugs-to-buy-in-usa/

  27. Nice blog, I really appreciate it. It is nice to décor area with rugs. A rug can make your house perfect and decorative. I am also choosing rugs from https://therugmall.com/product/amer-contemporary-amanya-ama-1-area-rug-collection/, they have a nice collection you must check it out.

  28. Are the pads from rugpadsusa.com the good stuff?

  29. Did you purchase their wool or cotton rugs?

    1. Do you mean did we personally buy any of these rugs? I have personally bought the cotton Lorena Canal rugs because you can throw them in the laundry which I love. I also have an Earth Weave wool rug.

  30. Organic Weave rugs from Linda, has horrible customer service..

    When I asked questions she said she will not sale rug to me!!!

    1. Thanks for the feedback Tetiana.
      You sent us 27 emails in 3 days, all of which we answered within hours.
      Linda

  31. Thank you! Thank you! I will def. no shop at Hook and Loom.

    1. I would like to offer the other side for hook and loom. We purchased a cotton loom woven rug from them 4 years ago for a room shared by two of our kids (one of whom has severe asthma and chemical sensitivities). It has held up to years of abuse and very frequent vacuuming with a beater bar and is in fantastic shape. No odor or chemical issues either, from day one!
      We will always look to them first for cotton rugs!

  32. Hi there – I have the same problem. I purchased the wool ones, is that what you have? Was hoping it would stop shedding after a period of time….

    1. C is your wool rug still shedding?

  33. What about 100% jute rugs? Like the ones from RugsUSA.

    1. Yes I would consider those fine.

  34. I was very interested in Hook& Loom and sent some questions to them. The first response was thorough but when I asked for more detail, was basically told that perhaps I would be happier purchasing elsewhere. I can promise my questions were fair and clear, based on health and safety, and I was a bit surprised to basically be told to go somewhere else … which I will!

    1. Wow! That’s amazing and can tell us a lot about their health and safety standards. Good for you for asking the questions. As consumers the more we ask the more businesses will respond and the safer our products become. Thanks!

  35. sorry to hear about this frustrating experience!

  36. Thanks for the post!

  37. I strongly recommend against supporting Hook and Loom. I have one of their rugs and I *HAD* their non-skid rug pad. The rug is fine, but then I went on their website regarding the non-skid rug pad and it states “Not 100% green, as the thin mesh fabric inside is made from virgin polyester, and not chemical free, as an FDA approved chemical to retard flame is added, but we feel it is currently the best on the market.” As soon as I found out that the non-skid rug pad had flame retardants (which I feel is completely unnecessary), I had to throw out the rug pad.

    According to RugPadUSA, this rubber pad for putting under rugs to prevent slipping does not have flame retardants added: https://www.rugpadusa.com/products/natures-grip?gclid=CjwKCAjw5ZPcBRBkEiwA-avvk0LeNOhI9nzKPMUK7Cvyb0uF6Z8D8FQVpfPFDcmwhpoXIFt5uhnLBRoC0lsQAvD_BwE.
    Although their customer service was a little offputting because I called twice with different times, and during the second call, the man acted like it was weird that I was calling again with more questions.

    I called Hook and Loom regarding why they add flame retardant to the non-skid rug pad. They said they purchase the product elsewhere, and could not give me a better answer than, “We use the same flame retardant that the put in Maalox.” I replied, “I can’t believe Maalox puts flame retardant in something that humans consume orally. Hook and Loom customer service seemed very put off by the fact that I was suggesting that they not sell something with flame retardants. Will likely not patronize this company again. I’m sure there are other rug companies that are not put off by customer suggestions, and that care about the health of consumers.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, and sorry for this frustrating experience!

    2. My name is Whit Selke. I founded and run Hook & Loom and handle all the emailed customer service. Our rug pads are made in the USA by a company who buys rubber from a formulator that includes a fire retardent called Alumina Trihydrate in their rubber. It is FSA approved, so it’s possible it could be in Maalox, but after seeing your comment, I searched the ingredients and it isn’t among them. There is nothing I want more than to be able to offer rug pads without a flame retardent and I am very sorry that I did not communicate this feeling to you well enough. Heathy rugs are our mission, which is why we make sure everyone knows that the pads we currently sell have a flame retardent. Again, I am sorry. Please email me if I can be any help in the future.

  38. Hey, Great post. Recently I’ve got the interior of my entire house. Reds, strong blues and vibrant greens in particular. Please suggest me the best octagon Area Rug, as I have a wooden Dining table in my dining room with vintage cutlery set and blue color painted walls, Suggest me something which goes absolute fabulous with this combination. . I’ve been purchasing the rugs from https://therugmall.com/product/kaleen-transitional-helena-3211-17-area-rug-collection/they have the great collection of rugs.

  39. Hey thanks so much for your post. What are your thoughts on flor tiles and rugs by Stark?

  40. Thank you for this information. I was excited to find several options for an area rug for our living at an affordable price point from Hook and Loom. If you had more insight i will greatly appreciate it.

  41. Check out ragpadcorner.com for non-toxic, chemical free rug pads.

  42. I have the black and white Hook & Loom Oslo rug in my kids’ playroom and it’s held up wonderfully. I had initially wanted a brighter rug but I’m glad I got that one. I have 4 kids and we’ve had it for a year with no issues. I highly recommend it!

    1. I’m so glad you’ve found a great non-toxic rug!

  43. Does anyone have experience with how Hook & Loom Green Eco-Cotton rugs hold up to toddlers/children? I’d like to put a healthy, toxin-free rug in my son’s playroom, but know that it will take a beating! I’d love advice on which of these healthier options clean well and hold up to kids.

    Unfortunately I can’t do FLOR tiles because I will be placing the rug on top of foam tiles (for a basement).

    Thanks!

    1. I have a giant H&L rug in our playroom and another 5×8 one in a bedroom, and they’ve both done pretty well. I’m about to order a third to put on our covered/roofed patio. We also have a retriever mix who hangs out on both rugs and/so I vacuum frequently…they’ve done just fine.

      1. Did you order the cotton or wool?

  44. Yes they do…

    “Consisting chiefly of sustainable natural rubber, this is a very high quality low-profile non-skid rug pad. Not 100% green, as the thin mesh fabric inside is made from virgin polyester, and not chemical free, as an FDA approved chemical to retard flame is added, but we feel it is currently the best on the market. As our sales and buying power increase, we plan to develop a 100% green offering.”

    No, it’s not perfect, however, I do appreciate their transparency and honesty. I would consider this as the best option over any other at the moment until they can come up with something better. I hate guessing what may or may not be in something, and I feel better knowing exactly what it is even if it’s not perfect.

  45. Thank you for this information. I was excited to find several options for an area rug for our living at an affordable price point from Hook and Loom. However, their rug pads, though natural rubber, contain a flame retardant. It is not clear whether the rug pads from Earth Weave, the other company you recommend for pads, also contain a flame retardant. My children would not be touching the pad regularly but my understanding is that we wouldn’t want them regularly inhaling the flame retardant chemical either. Do you have any further information or insight to add on this topic?

    Thanks!

    1. Does Hook & Loom tell people that their pads have flame retardants in them? If not, they should! After all, why would people go to the trouble of buying a non toxic rug and then pair it w/a toxic pad? That would not be good business practice in my opinion.

    2. No, the Earth Weave rug pads are 100% natural rubber (which is why they are pricey).

  46. Just a heads up that the Hook and Loom rug pad has fire retardant chemicals. I found out the hard way. But they are looking for another option. Their rugs are lovely.

    1. Omg I order the pads from hook and loom also! I assumed they were fine because the rugs are good. My 2nd floor smelt so bad! I removed them right away. I am in the process of returning the rug pads. I will be buying the one recommended in this sight.
      But I am 100% happy with the rugs they are made soooo well and looks great!

  47. Thanks for writing this. Antique rugs are a wise choice! I would love to be included in any future articles…my company makes GOTS certified organic area rugs.

    1. Hi Linda — Please post a link for your company — I’d love to buy a GOTS certified rug from you right now!!!

      1. See above–we now recommend Linda’s rugs!

  48. Hello,

    Do you know if Lorena Canals rugs are fully free of ANY flame retardant and formaldehyde? I emailed the company 3 days ago, but have not heard back yet.

    Thanks
    Anaka

    1. Anaka did you find out about Lorena Canals rugs?

      1. Hi Holly – I did receive a response from Lorena Canals company a couple days ago. I have copied their response below. If you contact them directly, they will also send you copies of their certifications. Although, it might have been nice to hear back from Gimmethegoodstuff, given that they have endorsed the product here :
        )

        EMAIL –

        our products do not have fire retardant treatment because they are incompatible with the concept of our brand, a great percentage of our products can be washed in conventional washing machines, and the treatment applied to make a product fire resistant is not water resistant.

  49. Thank you for the above information and everything you do in this space. Do you know that sisal or jute rugs (like from Merida) do not have pesticides applied? I do not know if they can stay in their natural state or if chemicals are applied.
    Also, I do believe that antique rugs can have moth-proofing chemicals applied…but not always
    Kindly,
    Laura

  50. I read somewhere that any rugs sourced from overseas must be sprayed with pesticides upon arrival in the US, so even if the company doesn’t apply any chemicals at the factory, the chemicals may be applied during the import process. (I also read the same about wooden toys sourced from overseas.) Is there any truth to this?

  51. How about Home Depot area rugs that what I got in my living room : (

    1. It really depends on what material it’s made from–it may be fine!

  52. This is great! Thank you!! Do you know anything about the rugs at Cost Plus World Market?

    1. I’m sorry but I don’t know about those!

  53. I suspect that antique oriental rugs, made by nomads from wool dyed with vegetable dyes, are probably toxin free; although they’ll be full of 100+ years of dust and will need to be aired out and beaten.

    These rugs are expensive; but, because they’re wool, they aren’t flammable like synthetics (and aren’t covered with flame retardants) and they’ll last another 100 years if you take care of them.

    Does anyone know of any reason why they wouldn’t be safe?

    1. You’re right–the rugs you’re describing would definitely be safe (once cleaned!).

    2. Just a thought- Doesn’t wool..even though it is natural- still need to be processed and is mostly processed with chemicals? Or are you saying that because a rug is made out of wool – it is safe and no chemicals have been added?
      Thank you.

  54. What are your thoughts on IKEA rugs?

  55. What are your thoughts on FLOR tiles? https://www.flor.com/

    1. FLOR is the best. Most reasonably priced for pure org anic w no toxins, no smell. Easy to clean. Often get free samples. Used for years.

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