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Sprouting: What is it and why is it happening to my rug?

Mafi Rugs's picture
An area rug showing signs of sprouting.

Have you ever noticed that your rug has a few tufts of wool that seem to shoot up above the pile? No need to worry, this is called "sprouting," and is normal with a hand spun or hard twisted wool rug. Some rugs are more prone to have sprouts than others, as it depends on how they are made and what they are made of.

There are some guidelines when it comes to taming those sprouts, and no matter how many you get, you will want to treat them all the same. Most importantly, DO NOT pull on the sprouts, as it can remove strands of wool and create a small hole in the rug, or worse, damage the warp and weft. The best way to remove them is to take scissors, and with the blades parallel to the pile, trim the tuft off so that the surface of wool is even with the surrounding rug.

Rug sprouting be trimmed

Some people may worry that they will cause damage to their rug by trimming the sprouts. Fear not, trimming the sprouts properly should not harm the rug. To understand why trimming the sprouts is not harmful, let’s better understand why the sprouts occur in the rug in the first place.

Most importantly, DO NOT pull on the sprouts, as it can remove strands of wool and create a small hole in the rug, or worse, damage the warp and weft.

One type of wool yarn used in rugs is created by hand twisting the fibers. This yarn can be fashioned with either a drop spindle or a hand turned spinning wheel. Because both practices are basic spinning methods, there is some variation in the yarn. This variation is what gives handmade rugs their charm and individuality. The image below illustrates how different the strands of yarn can be, and you can see where the sections of yarn are looser or tighter depending on the weave. The yarn shown was specifically created to have a high amount of variation to highlight the artisans work; the yarns used for hand knotted rugs typically does not have this much variation. The photo also illustrates how each strand of yarn can have sections that are more tightly twisted than others.

yarn spun from wool

How does the sprouting process happen? Over time, the sections that are not spun as tightly can relax and lengthen. As they elongate, the individual fibers sprout up out of the knots that create the rug. This will be most notable in high traffic areas. It does not mean the knots are coming undone or damaging the essential structure of the rug. In trimming off those fibers, you are not harming the rug. The video shown below, is a great insight into why area rugs get sprouts and how trimming them is not detrimental to the rug.

Now that you have a better understanding of how and why the wool sprouts occur in hand spun wool rugs, you can be more confident in trimming and maintaining your area rug. If you like the natural look of the sprouts in the rug, it is not necessary to trim them. However, beware that they are more prone to catch on the vacuum when cleaning. As a general rule, it is recommended to vacuum your rug without using the beater bar (this can be achieved by setting the vacuum to the hardwood floor setting). Please see our vacuuming instructions in our Rugs 101 Look Book.

Thank you for visiting, and we hope this gives you confidence in trimming those sprouts!


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