What are Sprouts on Wool Rugs?

Rug buying should always be fun – you are making your home beautiful and buying something that will last generations. But sometimes, you will run across a term or phrase that is simply confusing.

One word that is commonly used is sprouts on rugs – or rug sprouting. This can be confusing because it makes you think your rug is growing something. But this simply isn’t true! In fact, sprouting is totally normal and doesn’t mean your rug has any defects or problems. No, your rug isn’t growing anything. Sprouting in rugs is what we call threads that appear to unravel from the rug and stick out longer than the other loops and threads.

Basically, they are loose tufts that protrude above the surface of the rug’s pile. Wool is hand-twisted on our hand-knotted rugs. So when it becomes untwisted, it sticks up off the rug slightly.


Is my rug defective if I find a sprout?

No, it most certainly is not. It happens to almost all hand-knotted rugs and it is very easy to fix.


How do I fix a sprout if I find one?

First, be careful with your wool rug. Very carefully use scissors to cut the sprout down to the same size as the rest of the pile. Then use a strong suction vacuum, but not the beater bar to clean it. You won’t even be able to tell there was a sprout there at all. Please, DO NOT attempt to pull the sprout out. This will cause the entire wool thread to come out. Just clip it down to size.


Why don’t machine-made rugs have sprouts?

Machine-made rugs won’t have sprouts because they are looped by machines. Machines are able to do what human hands cannot – create an exact number of twists without any inconsistencies. Just like hand-spun pottery will have character that a machine-made bowl will not, a hand-knotted wool rug will have character that a machine-made rug will not.


Will my rug continue to make new sprouts as I use it more?

Yes and no. It all depends on the wear and tear on the rug and how well you take care of your rug. If your rug is in a high-trafficked area, and you use the wrong type of vacuum on it, you damage your rug and cause sprouts and unraveling. However, if you use the right vacuum (do not use a beater bar) and take care of your rug properly, fewer sprouts will show up over time. Oriental rugs are made to last, take care of your precious investment.


When do rugs start to show sprouts?

Hand-knotted rugs can show sprouts the day they come home from the factory, or even a year after you buy them. Sprouts are not a sign of a defective rug. If you have questions about your wool rug, contact us and we are happy to help.