Merino wool possesses both resilience and comfort making it an ideal material for carpets. It’s a natural fibre, produced by Merino sheep, that is both natural and renewable as well as being completely biodegradable. So, how do you care for it? Unlike synthetic materials it has unique properties which actually make it naturally stain and odour resistant. Plus, it does not generate static like synthetic materials so attracts less dust and dirt. However, you will still need to take steps to keep your wool carpet looking fresh and new for the long term.
Wool carpet should be vacuumed weekly to prevent any build up of dirt in the carpet’s pile. Built up dirt will wear out the carpet, by creating friction at the base of the wool tufts. Any type of vacuum can be used. For loop-pile carpets choose a suction-only vacuum rather than a beater bar or revolving bristle type. And always finish vacuuming in the direction of the carpet’s pile. The manufacturer will be able to advise on this if you’re not sure.
Regular vacuuming and paying prompt attention to spills will keep even light-coloured wool carpet looking fresh for a year or more without the need for cleaning. Once carpet is starting to appear dirty you can choose to either clean it yourself or hire a reputable professional carpet cleaner. If you decide to clean it yourself be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and choose a good quality-cleaning agent for the task. Mostly importantly choose one that won’t leave a residue on the carpet which can cause damage to the carpet and increased soiling. Four options are outlined below.
Always use a neutral shampoo on wool carpets, ie not alkaline, and avoid shampoos that smell like ammonia or household detergent. To check a product’s suitability leave some in a saucer overnight. When you remove it from the saucer, allow to dry and check if there is any residue that might attract dust. If so, find another. Once you have the right product a machine can be used to apply it. Follow the machine’s instructions carefully and avoid letting the carpet get too wet. Do not replace furniture until the carpet is completely dry.
Solvent-saturated or detergent-saturated powders can be a fast and effective way of freshening up your carpet and save on the drying time required with shampooing. Simply vacuum, sprinkle the product over the carpet and brush through the pile then vacuum to remove.
Aerosol foam shampoo
Small areas of carpet can be cleaned by sparingly applying an aerosol foam shampoo to the area and vacuuming once dry. Always follow the instructions and perform the residue test above, on a small area of carpet first.
Spray injection – extraction
It is possible to rent a machine similar to those used by professional carpet cleaners that will inject carpet with hot water and detergent and extract dirt. This is best for carpets with deep set dirt and is more effective on removing heavy stains than a simple surface clean.
Photography: Courtesy of Missoni | Illustration: Barry Allen Patenaude