Sisal Rugs

Sisal Rugs

Sisal Rugs

Sisal rugs and carpets are a sustainable option for the home and office. The sisal floor covering market is not big, but looking for your sisal area rug, matting or flooring is worthwhile if you want something different, biodegradable, and durable.

If you have no idea what sisal rugs and sisal carpet are, then you’re not alone. But interior designers are in on the secret of sisal, and so should you. A sisal floor covering is environmentally friendly because of its sustainable growth habits, and because it doesn’t off gas, it can’t pollute your home or office environment.

Sisal is a plant that is grown in semi-arid regions of the globe. The most common locations to grow sisal are Brazil and Africa, due to adequate environment conditions. Sisal is a natural fiber that is derived from the agave sisalana cactus plant. The fibers, up to three feet long, can be harvested by hand from the plant, and are considered to be much stronger than jute or coir. This strength allows it to be a great material for carpeting and rugs. So what pros do you find with sisal carpets? The pros of using sisal:

  • easy to clean
  • biodegradable

    And the cons of sisal carpeting are:

  • can not be used outdoors
  • is not comfortable for sitting on

    When choosing natural fibers, you are choosing to provide a healthier environment for youself and your family. Sisal rugs and carpets allow those prone to allergies a lessened chance of sneezing and other reactions. And since they are not produced with carcinogenic chemicals and materials, you don’t have to worry about exposing your family and friends.

    Because of the natural fibers, a sisal floor covering will provide natural humidity in the area that it is used. Static to build up is uncommon with sisal, or other natural fibers. In an office setting with computers, this can be a terrific addition.

    Since there aren’t any artificial colors used in sisal floor coverings, you don’t need to worry about the overall appearance fading. Any sunlight will only help to subtly change the color. Items sitting on sisal area rugs and carpets won’t stain.

    Caring for sisal flooring is quite simple as well. Although you should not introduce any moisture to the floor, you can vacuum it regularly. Steaming the sisal is not recommended. If you should have a spill, cleaning sisal rugs with a small bit of club soda should do the trick. Follow that up with a nice shot of hot air from a blowdryer or fan to dry the area.

    Again, the introduction of moisture is not good for sisal rugs, so outdoor use is not recommended. Moisture can build up in the rug and damage the overall integrity, as well as lead to mold.

    The natural fibers may not be the most comfortable surface for sitting, but your feet will love the instant massage as you walk over the surface. If you still want to use sisal, then sisal area rugs might be an option, having your guests in chairs instead of directly on the floor.

    Sisal flooring is becoming a design element, as well as a sensible choice for a sustainable environment. Many retailers will send you a sample of the material so that you can be sure that it meets your needs, but with all that has been described, you’re sure to look into sisal rugs and carpeting.


    Could you comment on a sisal rug developing mold/mildew underneath. It is over a parquet wood floor in a fifth floor condominium in Washington DC. There is no moisture nearby. It is an airconditioned/heated space.

    The rug was purchased in 2005 from Storehouse which is now out of business.

    What might have caused this mold/mildew to grow? The rug is being removed and trashed. I am reluctant to purchase sisal again.

    Thank you for any insight you might provide.

    Nita DeNicola

    nita denicola at July 16, 2007 5:45 PM

    Sisal rugs, like other natural products, can be processed wrong in manufacturing. When wood develops black mold, it’s generally from improper drying and storage. My hunch is your sisal rugs suffered the same fate.

    The question I can’t answer is whether the manufacturer of your sisal rugs has a problem with this in general, or if your rugs are the lemon of the batch. Since I don’t hear much about that being a general problem with sisal rugs, I’m going to bet it’s a fluke and unlikely to be repeated.

    But now that you have mold/mildew (is it black mold?) in the house, take great care to clean that up before introducing new rugs so they don’t suffer the same fate.

    Aside from the mold/mildew, how do you like your sisal rugs?

    The Flooring Lady at July 17, 2007 7:35 AM

    There is a manufacturer in Austria called Mellau that produce sisal carpets that are unbacked and allow the floor to breath so avoiding mold/mildew. They will ship to the US. Their web address is:

    Peter Laszlo at January 10, 2008 4:01 AM

    I placed cushions from outside furniture on my sisal rug for about 2 hrs. They were minimally damp. Now I have 2 areas of discoloration from the moisture and its 1 week later. I took a hairdryer to a spot hoping that would help but it didnt. Any suggestions? I will have it dry cleaned if that would help- but its not stained from anything but a little water! Thanks, Maryann Waterman

    maryann waterman- at August 7, 2008 4:16 AM

    By discoloration I presume you mean that it has lightened the color? If so, there probably isn’t anything you can do. If the stain is darker the the rug, then you can try to spot clean it with a vinegar/water solution, but this is recommended for stains, and water doesn’t create a stain. I hate to say it, but I’ll bet it’s permanently lightened. I wouldn’t think that just slightly damp cushions would do this, but perhaps it was some sort of a chemical reaction or your carpet has dyes in it rather than being the natural color of the plant fiber. I can’t say for sure as you haven’t provided the information.

    The Flooring Lady at August 7, 2008 11:29 AM

    The stains are darker than the rest of the rug. Is it possible it could just be dampness that will eventually resolve? The hairdryer didnt seem to do much good. Thank you for response. Do you think dry cleaning could make the color more consistant? Thanks, Maryann

    maryann waterman at August 8, 2008 3:45 PM

    It is possible that the dampness is making it a bit dark, so it may lighten up as it dries out. If the darkness doesn’t go away, you could try a product called StainSolver. which would

    be better than OxyClean because it’s got more bleaching action. A friend of mine also suggests Enviro-One she says that it’s been good for stain removal in general, but she doesn’t have carpets so can’t test it on that. While I hate the idea of dry cleaning, I have seen it recommended before. It seems such a shame to take something that’s so environmentally friendly and contaminate it.

    The Flooring Lady at August 8, 2008 10:45 PM

    We have a sisal area rug in our family room that is bound with ultra suede. My dog got very sick in 7 places all over the rug. Big large circles are left all on the rug. I called a few of the cleaning companies and no one can clean it. Any suggestions.

    Kiwi carpet said that they would pick it up and do some sort of water process on it, hae you heard of it??

    Thank you

    cherie at August 21, 2008 10:45 AM

    Hi Cherie,

    Ugh. I’m glad I’m not in your shoes. I presume these cleaners are talking about giving it some sort of water bath in hopes that the colors even out so the carpet color winds up being more uniform. It’s worth a try as these carpets can be very difficult to clean when you’re talking about rather large stained areas, and multiple areas to boot. I would presume they’ll use some sort of cleaning agent as well and rinse a few times.

    The Flooring Lady at August 21, 2008 7:33 PM

    I have a 8×10 sisal rug that has not been used in five years and was stored in a damp basement. It is basically clean but has a slight musty smell. Is there anyway to clean a sisal carpet this large? Do you have any suggestions in how to minimize the smell. Thanks.

    Patty at September 21, 2008 11:17 AM

    Hi Patty,

    Sometimes just setting it outside for two or three days does wonders for airing things out. Be sure to bring it in at evening though so it doesn’t draw moisture from the night air (dew). Wouldn’t hurt to flip it over every other day as well. The sunlight might or might not affect the color though. If you set it someplace where the sunlight is filtered or only hits it part of the day, that should help to minimize any discoloration that could possibly occur.

    There are also products to deodorize items, I’d suggest something environmentally friendly rather than chemicals to mask odor (like Oust, Fabreeze, etc.).

    Hi can you tell me a good overall cleaning method for sisal carpet, I have several large unexplained stains one of which looks like red wine. can you please advise?

    Hi Gilly,

    If you look over the posts, you’ll find some good ideas. Don’t forget to use the search engine in the upper right hand corner of the page.

    If you think the stains are actually red wine, you could try a product like StainSolver — it would

    be better than OxyClean because it’s got more bleaching action. Be sure to test it first — I don’t think it’ll bleach the carpet fibers. It’s not recommended to saturate the carpet, so try mising it with water and dab it on, blot dry, repeat, repeat, repeat. Only saturate if you must and pray for the best.

    Good luck!

    The Flooring Lady at November 12, 2008 7:38 AM

    Sisal Rugs

    I bought a sizal (large) and the odour is very strong still and it has been about 5 months. It is in a small space but it smells very strong almost fishy. Anything I can do to get rid of this smell?

    denise at November 18, 2008 10:46 AM

    For starters, I’d recommend using baking soda on the rug, let it sit a while and vacuum. Do this on both sides if possible.

    Has the rug always smelled this way? If it has, you might want to contact the manufacturer and inquire what the smell may be and what they suggest to remove the odor.

    The Flooring Lady at November 19, 2008 8:11 AM

    Is it advisable to put sisal on stairs ‘ I have been advised not to.

    mare at November 22, 2008 9:19 AM

    Frome everything I’ve read and heard, it is apparently not advisable.

    Hello, I have a large area sisal rug that is dark brown. It has some mold in one corner, due to storage in a damp area, the rest is brand new. It’s never been used. What is the best way to clean the mold and make sure it doesnt spread? Thanks for your helpful comments!!

    This topic has been covered before. Please read through the thread .

    The Flooring Lady at November 29, 2008 12:14 PM

    Hi, I read all 19 comments and couldnt find anything on how to clean mold from the carpet. I read comments on how the mold could have started and can be prevented. Should I follow advice on how to clean sisal in general (misting with cleaning agents and dabbing)? I also read alot about drying with a hair dryer. Is there a possibility the mold would spread or is it safe to assume that once cleaned it will be ok?

    Anonymous at November 30, 2008 9:04 PM

    The mold shouldn’t spread so long as the carpet is kept dry and what mold is there is destroyed. Follow general cleaning advice. Sisal carpeting is relatively new, and there isn’t much info widely available yet on cleaning it. It might also help to call the manufacturer to see what they recommend.

    The Flooring Lady at December 1, 2008 8:00 AM

    How can I clean up vomit from my sisal rug?

    Laurie at January 2, 2009 5:07 PM

    Hi Gilly, If you look over the posts, you’ll find some good ideas. Don’t forget to use the search engine in the upper right hand corner of the page.

    You need to clean up as much of the vomit as you can without rubbing it into the carpet fiber (use a spoon, butter knife, whatever). Afterwards you could try a product like StainSolver — it would be better than OxyClean because it’s got more bleaching action. Be sure to test it first — I don’t think it’ll bleach the carpet fibers. It’s not recommended to saturate the carpet, so try misting it with water and dab it on, blot dry, repeat, repeat, repeat. If it doesn’t seem to have stained the carpet, I would only use water. Only saturate if you must and pray for the best. Good luck!

    The Flooring Lady at January 4, 2009 1:54 PM

    I have 2 cats. Do you think sisal is strong enough to withstand cat scratching? I would like to get sisal for my sun porch, but I don’t want it destroyed by my cats. What kind of padding is recommended for sisal? I am thinking of wall-to-wall.

    Liz at January 19, 2009 11:40 AM

    With sisal, you must not place it anywhere where it gets wet. So. so long as your sun porch stays dry it should be ok. I would recommend some sort of padding that will let the sisal carpet breathe, as moisture (even in the form of very high humidity) isn’t good for the carpet. It should withstand cat scratching to a point — I don’t know how vigorous would cat would scratch at the carpet.

    The Flooring Lady at January 24, 2009 10:53 AM

    I have a very large sisal rug. We moved two weeks ago and it got left outside all rolled up. This wouldn’t have been such a problem if it weren’t for the fact that it keeps raining and it hasn’t been able to dry properly. Now the rug is completely soaked. I unrolled it and let the rain fall on it today. There is mold all over it.

    Do you recommend blotting the entire thing with the cleaning treatment? I have read the thread but I haven’t seen anyone else that has such a HUGE problem. Or do you think the solution to this problem is throwing it away? I appreciate any advice! Thank you.

    Katie at September 14, 2009 5:12 PM


    Mold is never something to ignore or wait to clean. I would call a professional cleaning company as soon as possible and inquire as to the best course of action to get the rug clean and ready for use again.

    The Flooring Lady at September 15, 2009 9:04 PM

    Will my new sisal rug finally lay flat? I’ve had it for two weeks and the roll lines are still there. Would a pad under the rug help? The sisal rug is on a wood floor. Thank you.

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