April 30th, 2014

Carpet Detective: My Hunt for a Chemical-Free Carpet

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Groovy Green Livin carpet

This piece was originally published over at Moms Clean Air Force

Air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk according to new estimates released by WHO, showing that in 2012 around 7 million people died — one in eight of total global deaths — as a result of air pollution. 4.3 million of those deaths were attributable to indoor air pollution.

New carpet installation is one cause of indoor air pollution and can fill household air with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including probable carcinogens like formaldehyde and benzene and stain repellents.

My struggle to find a chemical-free carpet began in college, but it didn’t end there. Every space that I’ve come to call home over the years has had some form of carpeting.

The toxic carpet issue became real as I watched my first child begin to roll and fall face first into our plush, new carpet. Most conventional carpets are made from synthetic fibers doused in artificial dyes, stain repellents, adhesives and other toxic chemicals. And my son was diving head first into that toxic soup.

What can we do?


As with any purchase, it’s important to be an informed consumer. We can all become carpet detectives! Contact retailers directly to ask questions and verify that you’re receiving a product free from toxic chemicals. Not only will this ensure that your carpet is safe for you and your family, but it will also notify retailers that we, as consumers, care about our products and we refuse to purchase products that are toxic.

Wondering where to buy a chemical free carpet? I detected a few brands that fit the bill. Some better than others. Some more expensive than others.

Earth Weave

Earth Weave is my top choice for chemical free carpets. According to James Stinnett, President of Earth Weave Carpet Mills:

“The company’s commitment lies not in the recycling petrochemical products, but rather in taking advantage of the ultimate manufacturer; Mother Nature and her renewable natural resources. There’s no safe level of toxicity”

He also refers to the “recycled pop bottle products” that other manufacturers are using as an eco-selling point, and calls this “green-washing” stating that even though these products are marketed as environmentally friendly, they’re truly not.

Earth Weave uses something called Bio-Floor, which is 100% bio-degradable, and will decompose in a similar fashion to trees and grass clippings. Their products are made of pure wool, with no dyes, pesticides or stain protections.

Bloomsburg Carpet 

Bloomsburg Carpet is a family owned business that focuses on using sustainable fibers that are ecologically friendly and readily renewable. According to the company “Our carpets meet the highest standard of indoor air quality and meet or exceed the Green Label Plus* criteria for floor coverings.”  Green Label Plus is an independent testing program that identifies carpet with very low emissions of VOCs to help improve indoor air quality.


Woolshire is a family owned business, using wool to make their carpets. Wool acts as a natural fire retardant and also is a non-allergenic fiber which does not promote the growth of bacteria, dust mites, or give off harmful emissions. All Woolshire carpets are certified Green Label Plus* (see above for description). They’ve also partnered with EnviroCel, a natural backing for their carpets made from recycled soda bottles and soy beans.


Helios carpets are made in the US and are owned by Mohawk, a large conventional carpet distributor. Helios carpets are primarily made from New Zealand wool. Wool is dirt and soil resistant, fire retardant and non-allergenic. While most carpeting is tufted, Helios Wool carpets are woven. This makes them wear twice as long, and the company claims this reduces energy consumption by 50% during manufacturing and keeps them out of landfills for a many more years.

*Note about Green Label Plus certification: Some carpet manufacturers argue that the Green Label Plus certification isn’t a very stringent or reliable standard.

Don’t you think it’s time to take the burden away from the consumer and place it where it belongs – with the carpet industry?

Have you had any luck finding non-toxic, chemical-free carpets?

photo credit: Helmuts Guigo via photopin cc

39 Responses to “Carpet Detective: My Hunt for a Chemical-Free Carpet”

  1. This is such a hard topic. Considering many of our exposures to toxic chemicals in the home are through building materials, it makes it a very expensive “fix” great to have this in one spot since many people ask about safer carpets. Thanks Lori!
    Lindsay recently posted..Chemical additives in food kept secretMy Profile

  2. I’ve never even heard of any of these brands – so thank you! Fortunately, only one room in our house is carpeted but we might redo the basement at some point so we’ll probably need carpet there.
    Micaela @MindfulMomma recently posted..Top Ways to Air Out Your Home For Spring #HealthierHomeMy Profile

  3. Non-toxic carpet is just really tough to come by. I think you are always better off with wood and area rugs if you can swing it. I do wonder about wool and how it’s treated in some of those brands.

  4. I think so too Betsy. Especially when you’re dealing with allergies. Over time we’ve removed some of the carpet in our home. There isn’t much left at this point.

  5. I had never heard of many of these brands either Micaela until I started doing my research. It’s nice to know there are non-toxic carpet options out there- not too many, but a few good choices.

  6. Thanks Lindsay. It’s frightening how toxic our indoor air can be. It’s always good to be educated before heading out to buy a carpet.

  7. Hi Lori,

    Thank you for this post. To make this even more difficult, the carpet (and rug) industry also has a poor record of social responsibility and fair trade. Do you know if any of these companies have committed to fair labor practices (US) or are certified fair trade (other countries). Thanks

  8. Thanks Maura. That’s an excellent question. After looking for a bit on their sites I’m not finding much.I just sent your question over to Earth Weave. I’ll let you know if I hear back.

  9. With any carpet you have to look what the back of the carpet is made of. Most are made of plastic and not the best adhesives. You want to look for a jute back and low toxic adhesives. I only know earth weave from your list. We have their carpet pad.

  10. Very true Anna. Earth Weave has confirmed that they don’t use synthetic backing. The president emailed me with this: “I am not sure that it comes across in the article but the other manufacturers you listed all have synthetic backings (SBR – styrene butadiene) that are identical to those used in every other nylon, polypropylene or polyester carpets.”

  11. I enjoyed your article as this is a hot topic for my family. We are active duty military and our housing usually consists of carpet that is so old they don’t have dates for it or new carpet that causes my son and I to have asthma attacks. One thing I should point out is about the wool carpets you mentioned being allergen free. There is a growing population that is developing an allergy to lanolin, which is found in wool so these carpets could potentially be a very expensive way of finding that out.

  12. Thanks for the info Tonya. Many carpet stores let you take a sample home to test out. Maybe this would be a good way to determine if any allergies exist.

  13. Thank you for this post, I never considered what goes into a carpet to make it stain resistant and never thought about that “new carpet smell”. I did more research after reading this post and cannot believe all of the “stuff” that can be used in carpet, including polypropylene, stain and/or soil repellents, synthetic latex or vinyl backing, or carpate padding which could be made from urethane or PVC.

    Then, you have possible antimicrobial and anti-static treatments, dyes. Oi vey.

    Wool and Hemp carpets seem to be good alternatives in certain situations, and apparently, the carpet industry is answering these growing concerns with its own green label certification program.

    Again, thanks for the post. Really!
    Jeff Morgan recently posted..Why Most Roof Repair Work Should Be Left to Professionals!My Profile

  14. […] different sources including tobacco products, oil, gas, coal and wood, building materials, couches, carpets, cleaning products and […]

  15. I read somewhere that wool isn’t great for allergies. And you have to deal with carpet beatles and other bugs. Wondering if hrmp or jute are viable alternatives? Have you done any research there?


  17. It is also worth considering the source of the wool. New Zealand farming practice is not always ethical with regards to animal welfare – considering our own health should go hand in hand with considering the health (and lives and deaths) of those who provide for us!!

  18. […] blog of the day: Groovy Green Livin gives the skinny on what to look for when buying chemical free […]

  19. thank you for sharing your research. i am looking for non toxic carpeting that is animal friendly. wool is not acceptable. i am distraught to see that the non toxic carpets are made with wool. how to find vegan, non toxic carpet?
    thank you.

  20. This is great info. I don’t want chemical laden, or ecologically damaging products in my home. Indeed wool seems many desirable virtues.

    However, consumers should be warned of the wool industry’s brutal treatment of sheep during the shearing process.


  21. Hi Lori,

    I share your sentiments on finding NO CHEMICAL carpet and so are for the NO CHEMICAL carpet cleaning. Because I am asthmatic this is very important that leads to our business. The Healthy Carpet. Check out my site thehealthycarpet.com

  22. @ylt202 – I totally agree. I couldn’t have wool carpets and need an alternative 🙁

  23. I am trying to find a non chemical carpet, but I am running into the issue that wool causes me to break out into hives/rashes. I have always found it very itchy. Are there any other alternatives to wool or are these real itchy like most wool or wool blend clothes? Do you know of any hemp based carpets?

  24. Hi Courtney, Good question! I would reach out to some of the companies I suggested to see if they have any other alternatives to wool.

  25. Hello! My search started with a no smell carpet cleaning when I was six months pregnant! Nothing is available from where I live in Apex,NC. I after months of searching I found one that’s is in CA. Being asthmatic and so are my two boys, we decided to bring this to us. We now a proud owner of The Healthy Carpet. Check us out and your search for healthy carpet cleaning would be over!

  26. You make a good point about being an informed consumer. Contacting retailers with questions is another way to ensure this, as you shared.

  27. Hi

    I am trying to find non toxic carpeting for my den which tends to be a heavy traffic area. Our house tends to be cool, so my husband insists on wall to wall carpeting.

    The cost per square foot of these natural carpets are prohibitive. I cannot afford them.

    I am looking for a chemical free carpet that is not expensive. Not sure they exist.

    Need some help in this area.


  28. Hi Marcia, Have you checked out FLOR? This could be a great, inexpensive option. Let me know what you think!

  29. Why is will not an option?

  30. What is wrong with wool?

  31. I am looking for an inexpensive area rug for my living room. Target advertises that it sells non toxic rugs, but I don’t know whether to believe them. Why are so many people against wool? Because it’s not soft enough? I have a dog and cat. I just don’t want to make them sick from nasty chemicals. I live in Portland, OR. It’s been freezing, and I want to find something quickly.

  32. Hi Steven, I don’t know much about Target area rugs. I would contact the company and question them on what they mean by “non-toxic”. You could also try FLOR. They sell carpet squares and you can create your own design. I think they have a few eco options, but that would also be worth a phone call. Good luck!

  33. I’m on the search for a reasonably priced carpet that is not treated with Isothiazolinones. I’ve emailed 3 major brandings including Mohawk and all day that the fibers or glues are pretreated with the biocide. I stumbled across a company that had organic wool carpet that would run me $50,000 to replace just 2/3 of my home’s carpet.

  34. I’m on the search for a reasonably priced carpet that is not treated with Isothiazolinones. I’ve emailed 3 major brandings including Mohawk and all say that the fibers or glues are pretreated with the biocide. I stumbled across a company that had organic wool carpet that would run me $50,000 to replace just 2/3 of my home’s carpet.

  35. Thank you for this article. I’m not sure what we are going to do for the small amount of carpet and all the area rugs we are needing for our new construction home. I have found these products by AFM and am encouraged that they might expand our options beyond wool.
    We’ve used a couple of their other products and have been pleased. The “green” industry is not moving fast enough for me.

  36. The main problem with wool carpeting is that it is also inhumane….this time toward the animals. The animals raised for their wool are abused and inhumanely treated. It can only be the case when using animals for such great quantities of wool.

    Oh, to be able to find renewable plant or other non-toxic products that can go into carpeting!

  37. Hi Lori, Thanks for this helpful list of non-toxic carpet manufacturers! I’ll have to check and see if any of these are available in Canada.

  38. Let me know what you find, Kenneth.

  39. Hook and Loom makes great rugs in both cotton and wool. I have their Loom Hooked Eco Cotton rug in my kids’ playroom and it’s softer on their knees than wool, which can be scratchy.

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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