If you are considering wool carpets or recently purchased a home that contains them, congratulations. Wool is a high end fiber that is highly sought after. However, it does require some special care. We have compiled everything you need to know about vacuuming wool carpets, including the best vacuums to handle the job without damaging the delicate fibers.
- Pros & Cons of Wool Carpets
- What to Look for in a Vacuum for Wool Carpets
- VACUUM FOR WOOL CARPETS Comparison table 2018
- 1 Soniclean Soft Carpet Vacuum Cleaner
- 2 Sebo X5 Upright Vacuum Cleaners - Blue by Sebo
- 3 Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet
- 4 SHARK ROTATOR PROFESSIONAL LIFT-AWAY UPRIGHT VACUUM, GREEN/WHITE (NV501GN)
- 5 Oreck Upright Vacuum Cleaner LW100 Magnesium SP with 3 HEPA Bags | Carpets, Tile and Hardwood Flooring | Dirt, Debris, Pet Hair | Lightweight, High-Suction Clean
- Maintenance of Wool Carpets
Pros & Cons of Wool Carpets
Wool carpets are a very attractive choice for many reasons. For one, they are made of natural and renewable fibers. They can also be made without any synthetic dyes or chemicals, so that the whole family can lounge on the floor without breathing in anything dangerous. Unless a person is specifically allergic to wool, it is one of the best choices for a hypo-allergenic home.
Pros About Wool
Sheep can be shorn every 9-12 months and eat only grass for the most part, so wool is truly a renewable resource. The manufacturing process does not release any harmful chemical by-products either. Many wool carpets are fully biodegradable once their useful life as floor covering is over.
Wool carpets are both soft and springy, and retain their shape well, offering years of comfortable lounging.
Resilient & Durable
In terms of carpeting, resiliency has to do with how well fibers bounce back after compression. Wool is quite resilient, so it can withstand high traffic without crushing and showing foot tracks. That means that, with proper maintenance, you can expect your wool carpet to last a couple of decades.
Wool is resistant to soiling, that is, taking on and holding dirt and dust for a grungy appearance. Wool fibers have microscopic scales that prevent dirt from embedding into the fibers. Wool is also good at repelling oil stains, which can come from human skin, shoes, and cooking. The fiber’s scales also disperse light, so any soiling that does occur is not highly visible.
Most synthetic fibers melt under high heat, but not wool. It doesn’t burn, though it does blacken. So if a lit cigarette is dropped on it or a spark jumps from the fireplace, a mark will be left but it will not ignite. That can be a helpful safety feature, and makes wool probably the only type of carpet that should be placed near a hearth.
Wool is highly absorbent, and that leads to one of the more unique features about wool carpets. When the air is humid, the carpet will pull excess moisture from the air. When the air gets dry, it releases moisture. So simply having a wool carpet in your space can help to keep the home’s moisture level balanced.
However, wool isn’t up to the task alone in very humid rooms or geographical regions. A dehumidifier will still be required to pull excess moisture in these cases. Wool that never has a chance to dry out will tend to grow mold and mildew.
Wool is a natural insulator and may even reduce your heating and cooling bills. That’s something to take into account when budgeting for your new carpet.
Cons About Wool
While wool requires the same basic kind of maintenance as other carpets – regular vacuuming and occasional deep cleaning – if you use the wrong tools, wool carpet can be easily damaged. Avoid vacuums with too-powerful suction and harsh brush rolls. In terms of professional cleaning, make sure the person you hire is familiar with avoiding shrinkage and understands the correct level of moisture to clean effectively but not drench the carpet in a way that won’t dry thoroughly.
Here is an unusual thing to think about in wool rug care, shedding. The first few times you vacuum a wool carpet loose fibers will likely fill the bag or dirt container. Wool is what’s called a “staple fiber” that’s relatively short. Therefore, many fibers are left unattached in the manufacturing process. The amount of shedding does diminish over time, but is something to put up with until the new carpet is broken in.
Prone to Staining by Liquids
In this case, wool’s ability to absorb moisture is not a positive feature. Liquid spills are likely to be sucked up by the carpet’s fibers pretty quickly. It helps to purchase a carpet that is treated with some sort of stain resistant material, but you’ll still need to manage any spills as quickly as you can. If the liquid sits on the carpet for just a little while, it will soak into the carpet fibers and may stain them.
Fades in the Sun
You won’t want to put wool carpeting in areas that receive full sun all day long. Some sun is perfectly okay, but the colors in wool will fade under intense brightness. While that doesn’t affect the structural integrity, it may limit the time you can enjoy the look of your carpet.
Wool is one of the more expensive carpet fibers available, outstripping even high end nylon versions. However, there is also a large range in price per square foot, so you can still have wool on a budget with careful shopping. Also consider a wool area rug rather than a wall-to-wall version to save money.
What to Look for in a Vacuum for Wool Carpets
It can be tricky to find the right vacuum for your wool carpets, because you do want a beater bar and brush roll to move the fibers enough so that suction can get at dirt and debris. But on the other hand, suction that is too powerful or a brush roll that is too abrasive can fray wool carpet fibers. Your best bet is to choose a vacuum that has a specially designed gentle brush roll. Another option is to look at a vacuum without brush roll.
It is also helpful to find a model with as many options for customizing as possible. For example, multiple attachments allow you to try different configurations and determine the best for your carpet and soil level. Vacuums that offer height adjustment are also great because you can set them at the height that works for the pile of your carpet. The pile, or depth, will vary between different types of carpet and even different wool carpets.
Now on to shopping! Let’s find you the best vacuum for wool carpet.
VACUUM FOR WOOL CARPETS Comparison table 2018
#1 Editor Choice
Miele C3 Soft Carpet
Shark Rotator Professional
Nylon; can be disengaged
Oreck Upright LW100
1 Soniclean Soft Carpet Vacuum Cleaner
The Soniclean is the only vacuum on our list that uses patented sonic cleaning technology. With a sonic bar that releases 200 vibrations per second, it loosens embedded dirt and debris so that it can be suctioned easily. Unlike many vacuums with stiff brush rolls, the bristles on the Soniclean are soft so as to be gentle on carpet. It also has a patented adjustable vent system that allows users to open and close vents to their desired amount based on the pile of their carpet.
It’s great for allergy sufferers, too. Soniclean uses Seal-Tech hospital-grade HEPA filter bags that retain 99.97% of debris. But the air won’t just be clean, it will smell clean, too. This vacuum has a slot for Sonicfresh fragrance pods, which release the scent of clean laundry while you work. And added bonus is that the vacuum stays smelling fresh, too.
The digitally controlled motor has two cleaning modes: Quiet Mode works for average soil levels on carpets and hard floors, while Deep Cleaning Mode tackles high traffic carpeted areas that need a little more suction. It also has a jam protection feature that automatically shuts down the vacuum if anything gets stuck in the brush roll. In this way you can avoid accidentally burning out the motor or snapping the belt. This feature makes the Soniclean company is so confident in their product that they offer a lifetime warranty on the belt.
- Sonic vibration assisted
- Soft brush roll
- HEPA quality + fragrance pods
- Loud operation
- Does not come with bags
- No attachments
- 11.5 x 14 x 43.5 inches
- 10.5 pounds
- Five year warranty
2 Sebo X5 Upright Vacuum Cleaners - Blue by Sebo
We like this Sebo model for wool carpets because of its automatic powerhead adjustment feature. It has double brush rolls to clean deep into soiled fibers, but automatically adjusts the brush height so as not to damage carpets of any pile.
Built to last a solid 15-20 years, you won’t have to replace your vacuum until you replace the carpet. It has a wide 15 inch cleaning track and 3-layer HEPA standard filter bags, so you can make quick work of cleaning both the carpets and the air. It is easy to maneuver, with the ability to position the handle 180° parallel to the floor to get under furniture without having to move it.
This Sebo comes with onboard tools accessory tools including a crevice tool, upholstery tool, and small dusting brush. It is also available in two color palettes, blue and yellow or white and gray.
- Automatic height adjustment
- Easy to use accessories
- Quiet operation
- Parts and repair are pricy
- On the heavy side
- Too high powered for small area rugs
- 29 x 16 x 9 inches
- 16.9 pounds
3 Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet
Miele is a brand known for quality construction and innovative features. This canister model is probably the best Miele vacuum for wool carpet because it includes a specially designed SoftCarpet Electrobrush with independent motor and 12.5 inch cleaning track to quickly take care of your beautiful wool flooring. Two rows of bristles penetrate to loosen embedded soil.
It also has a five level height adjustment capacity, so you can vacuum with confidence no matter how deep your carpet’s pile. With an additional seven levels of suction power, easily toggled on the powerhead, there may be no other vacuum with this level of customization potential.
It’s easy to maneuver with 360 degree swivel wheels and the Deluxe Comfort Grip handle keeps you comfortable while you work. The Miele comes with three integrated accessories, including a crevice nozzle, upholstery tool, and dusting brush.
The Miele features a nearly silent motor and uses a HEPA AirClean filter to capture 99.99% of dust and debris. Though a bit pricy, this vacuum could be perfect for people with several different flooring types. The C3 Soft Carpet, despite its name, can be adjusted to provide optimal cleaning on all of them.
- Highly customizable
- HEPA rated
- Quiet operation
- Parts may be tricky to replace
- On the heavy side
- Learning curve to find the right settings
17.2 x 23.2 x 15 inches
Five year warranty
4 SHARK ROTATOR PROFESSIONAL LIFT-AWAY UPRIGHT VACUUM, GREEN/WHITE (NV501GN)
Shark is a highly rated brand of vacuum, but we love this model for wool carpets because it is a 2-in-1. Enjoy the enhanced swivel steering on the full sized upright to make short work of big surfaces. The mounted LED lights help make sure you won’t miss anything. For spot cleaning, simply remove the LiftAway Pod handheld. Both are lightweight and super quiet in operation.
Based on your particular carpet, you can engage or turn off the brush roll to preserve the texture of the wool. The Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology and dual foam filters retain dust impeccably and earns this Shark a HEPA rating.
Beyond the capability of the handheld to get into tight spaces, this Shark comes with additional accessories including a pet power brush, wide pet upholstery tool, crevice tool, and a straight suction nozzle. Avoid having to unplug in large spaces with an extra long 30 foot power cord.
- 2-in-1 vacuum
- HEPA rated
- Quiet operation
- Smallish collection tank
- Handheld is unwieldy for use on stairs
- Plastic accessory holder clips subject to wear
- 45.7 x 12.2 x 12.2 inches
- 15.5 pounds
- 5 year warranty
5 Oreck Upright Vacuum Cleaner LW100 Magnesium SP with 3 HEPA Bags | Carpets, Tile and Hardwood Flooring | Dirt, Debris, Pet Hair | Lightweight, High-Suction Clean
The Oreck brand is known for high power cleaning with a lightweight design. We like this model for wool carpets because it has dual brush head speeds, so you can stick with gentler action except in areas that are highly soiled or need to be fluffed due to high traffic or depressions from furniture. The self-propelled motor, large wheels, and 7.7 pound weight make the job virtually effortless.
Oreck uses an advanced HEPA filter bag, so it’s great for allergy sufferers. All of their vacuums come with three extra bags as well, so it will be awhile before you need to buy more. Safe for any type of flooring, this vacuum also has side brushes to keep baseboards and corners cleaner. That’s handy for eliminating spider webs and other insect hiding spots, especially important if you have wool carpets, because bugs do love wool.
Though the Oreck does not come with any accessories, it has a long 30 foot cord and the ability to lie almost flat when needed to vacuum under furniture. You may find that you can handle even the tightest of spots without having to break out a handheld.
- Side brushes
- Dual brush speeds
- No attachments
- On/off button awkwardly placed
- Zipper access to bag can be sticky
12.5 x 10.5 x 47.5 inches
7.7 pounds7 year warranty
Maintenance of Wool Carpets
You know that wool carpets have a tendency to suck up moisture, and so wet spills can pose a problem. It is vital to immediately address spills and stains because, if left for very long, the foreign substance will chemically bond with the carpet’s pigment. At that point, removal is extremely difficult without damaging the carpet pile.
And while wool naturally repels stains from dirt and oil, it’s still vital to vacuum regularly in order to keep your carpet looking good. Following is some advice on how to vacuum wool carpet and the best ways to manage spills, so that your investment lasts a very long time.
With care and regular vacuuming, you may not need to have your wool carpet deep cleaned for a couple of years. Vacuuming new wool carpets approximately once a week will keep soil from getting pushed deep into the carpet fibers. Vacuuming too often, or with the wrong vacuum, can cause wool carpet fuzzing, which shortens the carpet’s life. However, not vacuuming often enough can cause matting. It is a delicate balance, but weekly on average is a good amount of vacuuming.
When you start to notice soiling, it’s a good idea to have a professional take care of it as soon as possible. Three methods of deep cleaning will work for wool carpets: dry foam, dry extraction, or spray extraction.
The dry methods are recommended a little bit more for wool because it can tend to mold if it gets too wet. But as long as you trust that your carpet cleaners know what they’re doing, the spray method is just fine. We do suggest that a professional do it, though, because it’s hard for someone with little experience to get the right feel for how much spray to use.
Aerosol Foam Shampoo
This method is typically used for small spot-cleaning jobs. The cleansing foam is sprayed sparingly onto the carpet then worked into the pile with a damp brush or sponge. The carpet is left to dry and is finally vacuumed. It’s important not to use too much of the spray because any that is left behind will attract further soiling.
Dry Extraction (Absorbent Powder)
This powdered product can be sprinkled liberally over the carpet, because it doesn’t matter too much if any is left behind. It is brushed into the carpet pile, where it absorbs the embedded dirt and oil. After a little while, simply vacuum the rug as normal. Any powder that remains will continue to work and come up in later vacuuming. This method does not require any downtime between cleaning and using the carpet because it does not involve water.
Spray Extraction Cleaning
Spray extraction is often called steam cleaning, but that’s not totally accurate. In fact, warm water (not steam) is pushed into the carpet under pressure along with a cleaning solution. The soil is suspended in the fluid and then pulled out immediately by a wet vacuum system. It is generally considered the most effective method of deep cleaning carpets because it gets to really deeply embedded soil. However, it’s easy to over-saturate wool carpets so that they don’t fully dry out, and therefore spray extraction of wool should be done by a professional.
Spray Extraction Cleaning
- Blot up wet spills with paper towels or a clean absorbent cloth. Scoop up solids with a spoon. Avoid rubbing, as this will fray the fibers.
- If you are going to follow up with a spot-removal cleanser, test it first in an inconspicuous area, unless you’ve used it before on this particular rug.
- Apply cleanser to a clean absorbent towel rather than the carpet itself and blot the stain.
- Be careful to avoid over-wetting the carpet; you want it to dry relatively quickly.
- Start at the edge of the stain and work inward to avoid spreading the mess.
- After applying cleanser, follow up by blotting clear, tepid water with cloth. Be careful not to soak the area.
- To jump start the drying process, put down a layer of paper towels about ½ inch thick and apply pressure. Change the towels as they become soaked, and do this until little moisture is absorbed under pressure.
- Allow the area to air dry, and then once dry, fluff the fibers with your fingers to help the carpet regain its shape.
Beware of Sprouting
Wool carpets are sometimes subject to sprouting, which is when a single tuft rises from the pile surface. This can be due to snags on shoes or even caused by the wrong vacuum. Though it is tempting, DO NOT pull at the tuft. Instead, trim it off with scissors. Unless you happen to have a loop pile carpet, cutting will not affect the look of the carpet. If it is loop pile, call a professional. In any case, tugging will further damage the carpet.
Protect Against Heavy Furniture
To prevent wool carpets from being damaged by heavy furniture, place furniture cups under the legs to spread out the weight. It’s also a good idea to shift furniture a few inches in another direction every month or so in order to give the compressed fibers time to rebound. Vacuuming can help straighten them up again.
Another way to rejuvenate flattened pile is to use a warm steam iron. First lay down a towel and then gently inject steam into the carpet through the towel. Don’t press down on the carpeting, though, or you may leave iron-shaped glossy marks on the wool.
Watch Out for Insect Damage
Insects can do a number on wool carpets. They are generally attracted to areas with food or plants, which can apply to a number of locations in any home, so preventative measures are simply to keep up on vacuuming, especially under furniture and along baseboards, where debris can collect. You may also look for a wool carpet that has been treated in a way to make it insect repellent.
Wool carpets have a lot of positive qualities that make them an excellent choice for the home, but they don’t work in every space and situation. Because wet spills are fairly damaging, we recommend choosing wool for adult-oriented spaces that don’t see too much humidity. Once you have purchased and installed your floor covering, all that’s left is to select the best vacuum for wool carpet. Any one of our suggested models can do the job well. Now you can sit back and enjoy your upscale wool carpeting for many years to come.