A natural rug by Minna Frames Rug

Natural, Non-Toxic Rugs for a Conscious Home



Most of us spend the majority of our day inside our home. And reality is that indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality. According to the EPA, indoor pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor pollutants.

The good news? Our home environment is one we can control—especially when it comes to the items, cleaning products and decor we bring into our homes!

While you may not have control over your wall paint if you are renting, you can consciously choose a natural, non-toxic rug! 

94% of rugs sold today are made with plastic and chemicals that release toxins into our home all day, everyday!

A natural rug by Minna Frames Rug

Minna Frames Rug

Why choose a natural rug?

Synthetic rugs are typically produced with man-made fibers like polypropylene (olefin) —while it is a cheap resource it comes with any questionable ingredients and releases toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into your home and into the air you breathe.

Synthetic rugs are:

  • made from plastic and petroleum
  • colored with toxic dyes
  • treated with fungicides, pesticides and flame retardants
  • contain phthalates that are endocrine disrupting chemicals
  • made with glues that can contain formaldehyde (typically the backings)
  • increase plastic output into the environment and ocean

Natural rugs are made from natural materials like wool and cotton as well as plant based materials like jute, seagrass and hemp. Natural rugs are durable, sustainable and eco friendly and don’t release VOCs into your home.

VOCs can off gas for 5-6 years, which means your body is coming into contact with these chemicals for a long time! —> This also makes vintage rugs a good option!

What’s the difference between synthetic and natural rugs?

Synthetic Rugs

Fabrics: polypropylene, acrylic, polyester, nylon

Pros: cheap, resist dirt, can be steam cleaned

Cons: off-gas VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) which can harm your health and the environment, often treated with flame retardant and stain resisting chemicals, made of plastic and petroleum, backings are often composed of carcinogenic chemicals, toxic dyes, use of formaldehyde and other chemical based glues

If you are going to purchase a synthetic rug, look for a vintage or antique rug that has already had time to off-gas some VOCs and choose one with a natural backing (without glue or chemicals).

Natural Rugs

Fabrics: wool, cotton, silk, jute, sisal, seagrass, bamboo, hemp

Pros: durable and long lasting, made from biodegradable resources, emit low or no VOCs, keep your indoor air environment and health safe, made from natural materials

Cons: more expensive, more difficult to clean or can require professional cleaning

What is the Oeko-Tex standard and is it really worth it?

This is a great standard and starting point and recently pretty easy to find clothing, textiles and rugs that are Oeko-Tex certified. A global network of laboratories operates Oeko-Tex, a certification system for textile producers. They test for harmful substances which are prohibited or regulated by law and chemicals which are known to be harmful to health. This process surpasses all other standards. Under the umbrella of Oeko-Tex there are different levels of standards and certifications.

Oeko-Tex tests for carcinogens, pesticides heavy metals and more, so while it’s not the gold standard it’s a great starting point when you are searching for a rug and typically pretty easy to find one in a good price point.

Does Oeko-Tex mean organic?

No. Oeko-Tex tests the end product only and does not take into account farming or manufacturing practices.

Graphic of Natural, Nontoxic Rugs for a Conscious Home

How to choose a natural, non toxic rug for your home

There are plenty of beautifully designed natural rugs to choose from—choose the fabric based off the locations needs, amount of traffic, feel and your style.

Favorite brands: Parachute, Loomy, Lorena Canals, Hook and Loom, West Elm, Minna, Serena and Lily, New England Loom, Willaby

*Materials can vary from brand to brand, so always double check!


Wool rugs are soft, come in beautifully dyed colors, require minimal cleaning, are durable and naturally flame resistant. Wool rugs are very common, but always double check the backing.

Wool rugs are great in high traffic areas like the bedroom, living room and hallway.

Favorites: Akshay Area Rug, Mini Pebble Wool Jute Rug, Braided Wool Rug, Berber Shaggy, Sand In Your Feet, Textured Wool Rug, More Than Vanilla, Blush and White by Magnolia Home, Park Hand Knotted Rug


Cotton rugs are inexpensive, soft and easy to clean but they are not as durable or long lasting. They can cozy up a room and come in beautiful colors and patterns.

Cotton works best in the bedroom, bathroom and is great for a kid’s room or playroom.

Favorites: Lorena Canals washable kids rugs, Brighton Eco Cotton Rug, Ryder Denim Rug (made of wool and recycled denim), A to Z rug, Frames Rug – Spring, Hand-Loomed, Washable Rug


Jute is the softest of the plant based fibers and very inexpensive.

Jute is best in pet-free homes and lower traffic areas like the dinning room.

Favorites: Zahari Rug (with recycled cotton backing), Diamond Lattice Rug, Round Jute Rug, Jute Boucle Rug, Striped Jute


Sisal rugs are very durable, naturally flame retardant and made from a biodegradable resource.

Sisal is great for high traffic areas like hallways and the living room.

Favorites: Custom Sisal Rug (choose your own size), Sisal Almond Rug, Natural Fiber Sisal Area Rug


Seagrass is incredibly affordable, environmentally friendly and water resistant—great for high traffic areas—you don’t have to worry about water damage, dust or stains.

Seagrass rugs are great on the feet and perfect for the kitchen, entryway and living room.

Favorites: Custom Seagrass Rug (choose your own size), Color Bound Seagrass Rug


Hemp does not attract dust and dirt like other rugs, so this is a great option if you have asthma or pets! However like many other plant based rugs, hemp is not a soft, cozy feel.

Hemp requires little maintenance and is great for high traffic areas like entryways, kitchens and hallways.

Synthetic vs Natural Fiber Rugs: Natural, Nontoxic Rugs for a Conscious Home

Favorites: Custom Hemp Rug (choose your own size), Tulum Rug

leave a comment

  1. Maria Wright says:

    Great post with such helpful information! What would be a natural backing example? Latex?

    • Caroline Potter says:

      Yes, latex, rubber (natural substance), cotton or wool! Most natural fiber rugs don’t have a backing. It’s mostly the glues that you really want to watch out for in a backing!

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