Whether you have wooden flooring or carpeting is often out of preference. But although hard flooring is probably easier to clean, there’s no doubt that many people prefer carpet. It’s obviously warmer and more comfortable, and usually safer for pets, children and older people. And if you are on a budget, you may not have any choice but to keep the carpet you love.
But whereas carpets used to be made from natural materials, today most modern carpet (especially the more affordable ones) are made from plastic. It’s all very well to tell people to buy carpets made from coir (coconut) or sisal, but these carpets are out of the price range of most people, and also quite scratchy, not as comfy as some high-store carpet. So this post looks at the realistic options, for those with money to spare, and for those on a budget.
Choosing Natural Carpets
There are 4 main types of natural flooring. They are expensive, so not everyone can afford them. But if you are redecorating and have the funds, then here are the main four to choose from. Most carpet stores sell them or you can buy online from Naked Flooring or Sisal & Seagrass. Note that some natural carpets still use fire retardants and moth-proofing, so ask beforehand, if concerned:
- Sisal is an organic fibre, from the agave plant (related to cactus). It’s made by crushing washed dried leaves, then extracting the fibres, before spinning into yarn. It’s suitable for dry areas of the home, not for bathrooms or kitchens.
- Seagrass is grown in paddy fields that are flooded with water (like rice). It’s harvested and dried, then spun into a strong yarn that is used to make flooring, bags and baskets.
- Coir is made from coconut husks, ideal for hallways.
- Jute is a fibre that grows as a shiny green plant, but appears naturally brown, once dried and made into carpet.
Carpets Made From Fishing Waste
- Sedna® is a Belgian company that makes carpets from ECONYL®, a nylon made from recycled waste like abandoned fishing nets and old carpets. This carpet helps to save thousands of beautiful sea creatures like tea turtles, dolphins and seals, who will no longer get trapped in ‘ghost fishing gear’. It also features a textile backing made from recycled plastic bottles.
- Aquafil produces carpet tiles made from fishing waste. It can be used again and again, and is identical to the carpet made from fossil fuels. At least 50% is post-consumer waste, so a step in the right direction.
Our oceans worldwide are packed with over 640,000 tons of discarded nylon fishing nets, which never biodegrade. And as the oceans have no borders, what is dropped in one ocean, eventually ends up somewhere else.
Zero Waste Carpet Underlay
Traditional underlay for carpet is (like carpet) made from PU foam, which contains volatile organic compounds, which can cause off-gassing. These can also give rise to allergies.
- SpringBond is made from recycled bottles, with the average home using up 900 recycled plastic bottles for each order. This is thick and comfortable, with good heat and noise acoustics.
- Envirolay is another eco-friendly underlay, made from recycled materials. It has excellent sound and heat insulation, and is guaranteed not to collapse. It also prevents creases and pressure marks and is comfortable to walk on.
Rugs Made From Recycled Materials
- Hug at Home makes good quality rugs, including ones made from recycled plastic (above). The company also designs runners that can pick up mud and dirt, to stop it tracking into your house. Available in many styles (including special ones for muddy dogs), these are made in Yorkshire using a highly-environmentally-friendly process, and contain recycled rubber for the base. Many staff live within walking distance, and they are constantly looking at ways to go zero waste. The rugs contain recycled cotton, plastic bottles, bottle tops and rubber. They even use green energy to make the rugs. Keep your Hug Rug clean by simply shaking it, and vacuuming off dry mud.
- Weaver Green makes beautiful rugs made from recycled bottles, that look and feel like wool. In beautiful designs like Oxford Stripe, you can also buy runner rugs, throws and blankets to match your decor. Naturally moth-resistant, they are also uninteresting to dust mites and other critters. Each of the machine-washable rugs is made from up to 3000 plastic bottles. Available in different weaves.
How to Clean Carpets (naturally)
Modern carpet-cleaning products are packed with chemicals that are linked to cancer, alongside endocrine-disrupting chemicals and fragrances that cause allergies, and don’t biodegrade.
3,7-dimethyloct-6-enenitrile; 3a,4,5,6,7,7a-hexahydro-4,7-methanoinden-6-yl acetate; citral*; decanal; dipropylene glycol; hexyl cinnamal*; linalool*; methylbenzyl acetate; octanal; terpineol* (the ingredients in Glade’s vacuum powder)
Using a good quality vacuum cleaner is the best way to keep carpets clean, so less cleaning products are needed. A wonderful little invention is RollaReleasa. Just a few pounds, this can remove old carpet fibres and string and pet hair from your vacuum cleaner, without getting dangerous with scissors.
Borax is toxic to pets and young children, so avoid if they are around. Essential oils are natural, but are toxic to many pets (including cats, who can’t break down the ingredients in their livers). Leave out essential oils near pets or children.
- Bicarbonate of soda is the best product to remove odours naturally. It does take time to work though, so ideally leave it 30 minutes or overnight after sprinkling, then just vacuum up. You can buy it in bulk from Dri-Pak or Wilko.
- Dri-Pak also sells Soda Crystals, which you can sprinkle over rugs that have been wet with warm water. Leave for a few minutes, then run a carpet cleaner over them. See the results with this before/after photo (always test on an inconspicuous area, for colour fastness). The hotter the water, the more effective (especially if with grease or oil – for blood stains, use cold water instead). Use for other stains (1 tablespoon to 1 cup with 500ml of water) but don’t use on aluminium or lacquered surfaces.
- DIY Carpet Cleaner mixes hot water with castille soap, white distilled vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, and essential oil. Just combine and stir, pour into a carpet steam cleaner (or apply to stain and scrub with a brush).
- DIY Carpet Deodoriser is great to get rid of odours for pet accidents or smoking. Baking soda is ideal to lift up grease and grime, and the juniper and lime oils leave a fresh scent (don’t use near pets, note essential oils may stain light carpets). Just let it sit on the carpet for at least 30 minutes or overnight, as baking soda takes time to work.
- Hydrogen peroxide (ensure you get the right strength for cleaning) is the best simple stain remover for light carpets. Just dab it on after vacuuming up the baking soda. It can bleach out stains, so be careful for dark carpets. Then blot with a reusable towel. Try this 1 Ingredient Natural Carpet Stain Remover.
- Lemon Lavender Rug Freshening Powder uses Borax, baking soda, lemon peel and essential oils. If your vacuum cleaner is not strong, the author suggests you grind lavender buds into a powder, so they are not too difficult to hoover up.
Where To Recycle Old Carpet
- Carpet Recycling UK says that once carpet as possible. Once carpets are thrown out, if they are made from plastic, they just sit on landfills, releasing methane gas. This site has a list of recommended carpet suppliers including Recycled Carpet Tiles and Spruce Carpets.
- Some say you can use it as mulch to cover weeds, but don’t use carpets treated with chemicals. Best only for natural carpets.
- Give it away to local animal shelters (cut into pieces, the mats help animals to keep comfy, while waiting for forever homes).
- Use a piece to cover your windscreen, to prevent ice.
- Use it to line a pond.