Recently, I’ve had a few private consulting clients who have asked about non-toxic carpeting. As a result, I’ve spent some time of late more deeply looking into this, and I hope this post helps answer the big question: Is there such thing as safe, truly non-toxic carpeting?
What Makes Carpeting Toxic?
- The chemicals and materials used to make the carpets and pads beneath them, including plastics, wool that’s laden with fungicides, synthetic rubber that may contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates, toxic dyes, and chemicals that are meant to repel flame, water, and stains.
- The materials used in the carpet installation process, including glues and other adhesives that contain formaldehyde and a range of VOCs that off-gas into the home environment.
- Carpet’s tendency that to accumulate dust mites, dirt, pesticides, and other toxins brought into our homes on our feet (and our pets’ feet!).
So Are All Carpet Bad News?
The older the carpets, the more likely they are to contain bad chemicals and pounds of accumulated junk. So I’d say that yes, old carpets are categorically bad news. But because we have some really safe options available these days (see below), newer carpets can be a good choice for your home.
And this is important: In addition to choosing safe carpets, you should clean them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This usually involves frequent vacuuming (make sure you use a HEPA-sealed vacuum that’s RoHS certified, like the ones from Miele) and occasional steam cleaning. You also might consider investing in a robust electronic air filter.
Non-toxic Carpeting Brands
We’ve done the research on non-toxic, natural carpets, and found three safe brands to recommend:
Earth Weave is the gold standard among non-toxic carpeting–they make the very best stuff.
Earth Weave’s natural, non-toxic carpeting is made in the United States from carefully selected European wool, plus hemp, cotton, natural latex, and jute.
Earth Weave uses only safe dying methods for some of their colors; the other colors are natural wool hues. Even better, they don’t treat their carpets with any worrisome chemicals.
We used Earth Weave on the staircases and landings in our home in Lancaster, PA, and I’m someone who has never had a carpet (I’ve never much cared for it). I have to say that our Earth Weave carpet is beautiful, cozy, and great for my peace of mind when little kids are running up and down stairs! I’m considering carpeting the bedrooms next.
Nature’s Carpet’s Everest carpet from their “Dark Green” collections is made from a blend of European and New Zealand wool and is chemical-free with a cotton and a jute backing as well as a natural rubber latex adhesive. The Aberdeen and Element carpets, also from the Dark Green collection, are made with 98% natural materials, and a woven polypropylene backing. (I consider polypropylene to be an non-toxic plastic). All three carpet styles in the Dark Green category from Nature’s Carpet use un-dyed wool and do not contain any moth-proofing or flame-retardant chemicals.
Unique Carpets makes a Four Seasons collection that is less expensive than the others I’ve mentioned while still being mostly natural, with un-dyed wool from the UK and no added treatment chemicals. This carpet does have some polypropylene-based backing (again, I’m not worried about this type of plastic), although much of their backing is jute. Note that other collections from Unique Carpets are not as natural as the Four Seasons line, and I can’t call them truly non-toxic carpeting.
Non-Toxic Rug Pads & Grippers
Rug and carpet sales people always 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, but there is a safe alternative:
Earth Weave sells natural rug pads made from a combination of wool and plant fiber (and no glues, dyes, flame retardant chemicals, or mothproofing chemicals). They also sell natural rug grippers made from 100% natural latex. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to order either.
Do you have experience with any of these–or other–carpet brands, or have other questions about non-toxic carpeting? Please post below!
P.S. Here’s our post on choosing a non-toxic area rug.