Now that environmental consciousness has been stamped in biodegradable ink into the social contract we find ourselves questioning the differences between natural and synthetic products, and rugs offer a unique opportunity to directly compare the pros and cons.
First, though, it must be noted that a natural rug can be “natural” in many different ways depending on whether it’s made of wool, cotton, bamboo, silk, jute or something else not cooked up in a lab. These various fibers all have different qualities that make it difficult to form a direct comparison to synthetic materials …
… but, we’re gonna do it anyway.
Polyester, acrylic, nylon, polypropylene – these are the major players in the realm of synthetics. We could talk about how they’re manufactured, but in this comparison the end product is what’s important. So, what’s good about synthetic rugs?
Low Cost: Synthetic fibers are cheap to manufacture, at least in terms of dollars. Those fibers may still be woven by hand, and that costs money, but the raw material is comparatively inexpensive to produce.
Durable: Synthetic material is strong. It can be stain-resistant, water-resistant and fade-resistant. It’s mutant fiber, so of course it’s going to have indestructible qualities.
Easy Cleaning: Since many synthetic fibers are so durable, it also makes them easy to clean because you don’t need a gentle touch or instructions for special care.
When it comes to natural rugs, there are so many different types it’s hard to list across-the-board benefits, but there are a few that deserve consideration.
Eco-friendly: Many synthetic rugs are petroleum-based, which is a non-renewable resource that doesn’t degrade well once it’s discarded. This makes natural rugs superior when it comes to environmental stewardship.
Feel: It’s very hard for a synthetic rug to compete with the level of bounce and comfort that many natural fibers deliver – especially wool, which has been used in rug-making for centuries.
Hypoallergenic – It’s a bit counterintuitive, but many find natural rugs to be better for allergies than synthetic rugs due to the kinds of chemicals used in synthetic rug production. This is particularly true of sisal rugs, which also repel dust (and dust mites) that cause allergies.