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As a mother of two, I know how quickly life shifts to floor-level when you have babies and toddlers. (The back muscles become acutely aware of how much takes place on the floor, too. 🙂 )
You care about your little ones; you want them to grow up safely, as protected as possible from the myriad of unhealthy substances that surround us. You want to nourish their rapid development, and you know that toxins affect them much more than they affect us adults.
The safest area rugs are those made with natural materials such as wool or cotton and made by hand rather than machine. Hand-woven rugs without latex backing are best.
In this article, we will talk about safe, non-toxic area rugs for your baby; area rugs that will not off-gas nasty chemicals into the air where your child can breathe them in. You will learn:
- What makes an area rug toxic
- If you need a certified organic rug
- What to look for and what to avoid when shopping
- Our recommended rugs
What Makes an Area Rug Toxic?
The most toxic rugs are those made with synthetic materials.
- Synthetic area rugs are made of nylon, PET or polypropylene which off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOC's) into the air.
- Rugs are backed with chemicals such as PVC, Styrene, and 4-phenylcyclohexane. These compounds give your rug the "new carpet smell."
- Carpet adhesives often contain benzene.
- Rugs are often treated with flame retardants, moth and stain repellents, and synthetic dyes.
You don't want your babies to be exposed to these sorts of chemicals, especially when their bodies are so little and still developing! Babies spend a lot of time crawling around on the floor, you want something soft and non-toxic underneath them.
What is the alternative?
I am happy to say; there are alternatives! You can have a beautiful rug that doesn't keep you up at night with worry. Follow the recommendations in this article, and you will be well on your way to finding a non-toxic alternative.
Certified organic rugs are the ideal choice, as the certification ensures that the rug is made from sustainably grown natural materials, and dyed with low-impact dyes. A company that produces organic rugs is taking your health into consideration, as well as the health of the planet. These companies are tricky to find!
A standout company that offers GOTS certified organic cotton rugs is Hook & Loom. Hook & Loom is one of the only companies you can find that's committed across the board to creating rugs in a truly conscientious manner. They have been since day one. They give equal attention to the quality and health of the soil and the animals who grow the fibers, to the farmers who raise the cotton crop and tend the sheep, to the artisans who create the rugs from the spun fibers and to the expectations of customers like us who are mindfully searching for truly eco-friendly rugs.
There are numerous rug companies that feature an organic rug here and an organic rug there, but they're only specially-featured products. That effort deserves acknowledgement, too. Absolutely. But only Hook & Loom has spent years building entire lines of beautiful certified organic cotton rugs, wool rugs and Eco Cotton rugs.
NOTHING is added:
- No fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides used in their fields.
- No defoliants used during harvesting.
- No adhesives. They hand-bind their rugs, so no VOCs nor latex.
- No dyes, which means no residue of any chemical mordants used even in “organic” vegetable dyes.
Hook & Loom Wool
Rugs made from undyed, natural wool - wool the way nature intended.
- Using the beautiful varied colors of natural breeds of sheep, their wool rugs are hand-woven in rich, refined patterns.
- Whether carefully hand-bound or expertly hand-woven on their specialty looms, their sophisticated rugs are built to last.
- Their wool rugs contain NO dyes, chemicals, or latex.
As I mentioned previously, besides our beloved friends at Hook & Loom, organic area rugs are nowhere to be found as of yet (besides one by one here and there). If we're thinking about nurseries and floors where babies and toddlers will crawl, I do feel that playmats deserve a mention. They've come a long way. They can even be beautiful now. And organic! So while I depart a wee bit again from area rugs, let me share these gorgeous organic play mats from MakeMake Organics.
They offer a few versions of their GOTS Certified Organic Nursery Play Mat (yes!!!! it's washable!!!!) and oodles of other organic baby-related items.
NEXT BEST OPTIONS AFTER ORGANIC
If buying an organic rug is too out of your price range, I will give you a tip - if you stick to rugs made with natural materials, that are woven by hand, and do not have a latex backing, you will be avoiding much of the toxins that can be present in rugs.
Keep reading to learn what to look for in your hunt for a non-toxic rug.
What to Look For and What to Avoid
- Look for rugs that are hand-knotted. Skilled artisans create hand-knotted rugs using traditional methods that have been passed down for centuries. Flat-weave (also called Kilim) is another hand-woven method.
- Avoid hand-tufted or machine made rugs. These rugs have a plastic or latex backing that will off-gas VOC's.
- Avoid synthetic rug fibers - read why polypropolene is not a good option.
The best natural materials are cotton and wool.
- Wool is soft, resilient and durable. Wool rugs take dye beautifully, repel water and stains, and will last generations with proper care.
- Cotton rugs are not as stain-resistant as wool, but they are easy to clean. They are extremely comfortable and add softness and warmth to a room. Cotton is easy to dye, allowing cotton rugs to come in a variety of colors and patterns.
- Cotton and wool are both soft under feet, and they will feel comfortable to crawl on. Other natural materials such as Jute or Seagrass are not as soft and will feel stiff and scratchy on babies delicate skin.
- Machine made
- Polyester, Viscose, or Polypropylene
- Certified Organic (THE BEST OPTION... but challenging to find and sometimes afford)
- Flat-weave (also called Kilim)
- Recycled Cotton
- Cotton or Wool
I want to tell you about a couple of rug companies that I love and recommend, as well as my top picks for shopping on Amazon.
Hook & Loom handcrafts rugs in an earth-friendly manner, using no dyes, chemicals, or latex, yet offering a range of colors and styles, expert workmanship, and lasting durability.
- They create Eco-cotton rugs from recycled cotton clothing.
- Their wool rugs are hand-woven, with hand-binded edges. Made from natural undyed wool with no glues or latex, Hook & Loom's wool rugs are completely reversible.
- Free shipping within the USA.
Loomy is devoted to complete transparency in its processes. The critical information that you need about the rug you're considering is provided: who made it, how it was crafted, and what materials were used.
- They design and manufacture all of their own products, direct from the artisan themselves.
- All of their products are made from sustainable materials that are natural, eco-friendly man-made, or recycled.
- They are committed to closing the loop on wasteful manfacturing through their methods and non-toxic materials.
- Purchasing their products directly supports an indigenous community of certified artisan weavers.
- Free shipping inside of the U.S. ($75 outside of the U.S.)
If you are wanting to shop on Amazon, I recommend looking for flat-weave, kilim, or handwoven wool rugs from the brands Safavieh or NuLoom. Below are some of my favorites for the nursery:
I know that finding an organic or natural area rug for your baby is important to you and I hope that this article was helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will answer you as best I can!
This post was originally published on June 17, 2017.