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If you are looking for a latex free area rug, you have come to the right place. Read on to find out:
- Why you should avoid latex
- How to avoid latex in rugs
- Latex alternatives
- Tips for allergy sufferers
- The best non-latex rugs
- Where to buy latex-free rugs
What is Latex and Why Should you Avoid it
Latex is an adhesive material that is used to anchor the pile of the rug to the backing. It is also used as a backing itself to prevent the rug from slipping.
Latex is one of the worst backings for a rug, and here are the reasons why:
- Latex doesn't allow the rug to "breathe." Latex-backed rugs attract and trap moisture and gas and damage the floor beneath.
- Latex backing will start to degrade, leaving a dust of latex particles under the rug, these particles can make it into the air that you breathe in.
- Latex holds onto odors such as urine and other offensive odors that may come in contact with the rug.
- Latex is not cheap, so manufacturers often mix it with other ingredients such as chalk to decrease cost. This causes the latex to dry, crack, and flake off much sooner.
- Styrene-butadiene latex is the most common bonding material used. Styrene is toxic. Short-term exposure can cause nervous system effects such as depression, loss of concentration, weakness, fatigue, and nausea. Long-term exposure can cause liver and nerve tissue damage as well as cancer.
- Some people are sensitive/allergic to latex and experience sniffling, or itchy skin,
- Latex gives off a 'rubber smell' that some people find unpleasant.
How to Avoid Latex in Your Rug
Machine made rugs, as well as "hand-tufted" rugs, will most likely have a latex backing. There are also some alternatives to latex which we will cover below.
Avoid Hand-Tufted Rugs
Hand-tufted rugs are often labeled as "handmade," though this is a deceiving term.
Tufted rugs are made with tufting guns that are held by someone's hand, but that is as far as the "handmade" component goes. Tufted rugs offer the look of a hand-knotted rug, with a significantly lower cost.
A hand-tufted rug is created by punching strands of wool onto a frame-stretched canvas. After piling the wool, the rug is removed from the frame, and a backing is applied with latex glue to hold the "tufts" in place.
If you want to avoid latex in your rug, a good first step is to avoid hand-tufted rugs. Instead, opt for a "hand-knotted" rug. These are made entirely by hand and do not require a backing.
This Video Shows How Tufted Rugs are Made
How to Spot a Tufted Rug
- Tufted rugs have a cloth backing on them to protect the yarn and latex adhesive.
- There are no knots in a tufted rug, and the pattern is not visible from the back.
Latex backing Alternatives
Some alternatives to latex are plastic backing (though not very environmentally friendly) and natural materials such as rubber.
Rug Buying Tips for Allergy Sufferers
- Synthetic fibers are often recommended for allergy sufferers because the materials repel allergens, this is especially true with nylon (polypropylene), however polypropylene is toxic in other ways.
- Consider the pile of your rug. Low pile rugs are a better choice because fewer allergens get stuck in the fibers.
- Natural fibers such as jute, sisal, sea grass, and cotton shed less and are often woven into thinner rugs, making them a smart option.
- Brand new wool rugs are more prone to shedding which some people find irritating, but wool is actually a great rug material because it pulls pollutants from the air and neutralizes them. Wool also naturally resists the growth of allergens such as microbes and dust mites.
- If you are looking at buying a wool rug, look for a rug made from Grade 1 New Zealand wool.
- Jute rugs are a great choice because the fibers repel dust mites.
The Best Non-Latex Rugs and Rugs Pads
- Hand-Knotted wool or cotton rugs will often be latex-free.
- Flat-weaves and Kilims are handwoven and do not have backings.
- Hand-loomed cotton rugs.
- Jute, sisal, or sea grass rugs without a backing.
- Bamboo rugs are a good choice as well.
- Look for rugs pads made with natural rubber.
Where to Buy Latex-Free Rugs
Hook & Loom makes area rugs that are always latex free and made of recycled cotton and natural wool.
Loomy Home offers handwoven wool and natural fiber rugs that are latex free, as well as an eco-friendly rug pad.
If you want to shop on Amazon, search for "hand-knotted", "flat-weave", "kilim", or "braided" to find rugs that are latex free.
What kind of rugs do you like? Leave any questions you may have in the comments below and we will do our best to help.
This post was originally published on November 19, 2019.