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The best type of carpet for a healthy home.

"Is synthetic carpet pulling the wool over your eyes?"

Selecting a new carpet requires a decision, wool or synthetic?

As a nation of sheep hoarders one can imagine that carpet of the wool variety would be our most popular choice of carpet, and in the past it has been. And rightly so – wool carpet (from New Zealand sheep) has great durability and will last a long time if taken care of correctly. But wool stains easily; natural oils that protect wool can deteriorate when spills occur. These spills strip the wools natural oils, equalling permanent damage to your carpet and directly effect its lifespan. The vast majority of carpeted New Zealand homes are of the synthetic variety, and this is mostly down to affordability and selection.

Having said that, synthetic carpet is also susceptible to stains and spills, and its general lifetime falls a little short in comparison to wool. Of course, synthetic carpet is cheaper (petrochemical products tend to be) and often comes treated with Teflon and other solutions that fend off any and all disruptions to the carpets integrity; toddlers, animals, red wine loaded tipsy mother in laws, you get the picture. Synthetic carpet and the treatments it goes through in production allow for the carpet to be cleaned by the homeowner more efficiently than wool carpets. The natural fibres of wool don't react kindly to heavy duty cleaning treatments.

When searching for new carpet it pays to consider how your new carpet will effect the environment; how far it's travelled to get to New Zealand and how the materials for the carpet were harvested in the first place. This is also true for carpet underlays, plenty of toxic and non toxic underlays are available on the market, so be sure to select the eco friendly option. Synthetic carpets, more often than not, end up in landfills (or as kiwis call it, the dump). Synthetic carpets are filled with all sorts of hard to pronounce/distinguish chemicals, these chemicals can do wonders on maintaining your carpet over time, but they can be harmful to the environment in the long term. But it should be mentioned that there are new technologies that are both cleaner and greener, and that offer some really interesting prospects in terms of using recycled bottles, fishing nets and other natural fibres in the production of synthetic carpet, which is exciting to hear.

Wool carpets are no captain planet, but they are recyclable, and that earns a few bonus points. As mentioned, there is a real surge in alternative materials in the production of synthetic carpets, but wool is still by far and away the greenest option available. Wool is recyclable, flame retardant, and despite not being pre-loaded with anti spill materials and chemicals, its natural resilience to outside nasties is second to none.

A big factor to consider when carpet shopping is allergies. Allergies are more rampant than ever, so chances are pretty high that someone in your home is going to be effected by an allergy at one point or another. Selecting a carpet that isn't going to negatively effect the health of your loved ones is really important. Synthetic carpets are often filled with nylon and polyesters, which similar to clothing and household items, have been developed to repel allergen's. Wool on the other hand can cause allergy sufferers a few issues. Wool can store all sorts of allergens and moulds due to it's natural composites, so it's best to avoid wool if you have serious concerns over the health of the allergy sufferers in your home.The good news is that yes, even allergy sufferers can enjoy carpet of one variety or another, cold winters spent walking on and constantly cleaning wooden floors needn't be an issue anymore.

As you can tell there are many factors to consider when searching for a carpet, and to be honest, there is no clear winner in the wool vs synthetic battle. Wool is the more expensive but greener and longer lasting option, and synthetic carpet is a wonder for allergy sufferers and noticeably cheaper.Carefully weigh up what you want your carpet to do for you, and where you want it coming from. With a little research and know how, you'll be disco dancing on carpet in no time.

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