It is wonderful to feel the warmth of carpeting or area rugs under your bare feet. The padding is softer on the joints, warm, safer for children wrestling around and often softens harsh acoustics in the room. However, mainstream carpeting and rugs are doused with dangerous pesticides and off gas many chemicals which can effect your short and long-term health.
Fear not, there are several toxic free ways to have a healthy warm home with carpeting and area rugs.
Lush and soft, 100% wool carpeting is a favorite solution. This resilient fiber has natural stain resistance, so no chemical additives are needed to keep this looking good for years.
Other natural fibers such as sisal, coir and sea grass are price competitive alternatives to wool. Although they do not self extinguish like wool or are as soft, they will withstand flooding and the heaviest traffic.
Whether you decide to go with wool or another natural fiber, it is as equally important to insure the backing and underlayment of your carpet is faultless. Backing is the woven material holding your carpet together. Insure the backing is woven with jute or natural latex and if any adhesives are added they are toxic free.
Lastly, the underlayment is the cushioning under your carpet. Older materials can be found under carpet as a toxic pink crumbling mess. Just because it is not pink does not mean it’s safe, only newer, and could be made with post consumer waste and unidentifiable chemicals. Safe underlayment includes 100% wool or all natural rubber. All natural rubber should be used in a high traffic area such as a staircase.
Another benefit of natural materials is sustainability. They will last forever in your home but only take five years to break down in a landfill environment.
A few common questions:
You just picked up a 100% wool rug from your trip in the East? Great souvenir, although you cannot confirm the dyes used. Be sure to purchase a carpet pad to prolog the life of your investment. The pad should be natural wool or latex.
What if you are renting or your new in-laws gifted you a toxic off-gassing area rug so bad you can smell it? Fear not there is hope. AFM Safecoat has created a three-step process, all under $50, to seal in the toxins of your carpet and backing to prevent off gassing for one year.
Always check for more than one green certification and do your due diligence to insure there were no toxic chemicals added to the manufacturing process. Carefully sourced materials can be found at Honest Home, Louisville’s Green Building supply store in St. Mathews.