Polyester Rugs: Are They Really Toxic?

Natural Area Rugs Blog Staff

Natural Area Rugs Blog Staff

Your trusted source for Natural Area Rugs inspiration & information. ~ Nurturing your home with nature ~

The rugs in your home can have a huge impact on your health, especially if you replace them with synthetic fabrics. For example, polyester rugs are made of plastic, which has been linked to several health problems, such as cancer and hormone disruption. This blog post explains the dangers of using these rugs, their makeup which makes them toxic, and what are the best alternatives.

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Understanding Polyester Material

Polyester is a synthetic fabric made of plastic and sometimes made of a combination of plastic and cotton. It’s a cheap material, and is cheap to produce, which is why it’s so common.

It is manufactured using a chemical process that combines one or more monomers with oxygen and hydrogen. The polymerization reaction that forms the polyester is catalyzed by a metal-based catalyst. This is a chemical compound that contains a metal atom.

Polyester production methods include direct polymerization, melt polymerization, and solution polymerization. The most common method of producing polyester is through the direct polymerization of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. In this process, the raw materials are mixed together in a reactor and heated to a temperature of 120 °C to 180 °C.

Polyester has been linked to health problems, including cancer, and hormone disruption, and polyester is also an allergen. 

What Makes Polyester Hazardous or Toxic?

Flame Retardant Chemicals

Polyester is often made with flame retardants, which can make it hazardous or toxic if it is breathed in or if it gets on the skin. Breathing in the fumes created by the flame retardants can be harmful, and can even lead to cancer. 

Toxic Dye Chemicals

Many synthetic rugs use toxic dyes to color the fibers. 

This chemical process of using dyes has been found to release dangerous chemicals such as mercury, lead, chromium, copper, sodium chloride, toluene, benzene, alkylphenol ethoxylates, aniline, and formaldehyde.


Antimicrobials, such as those used to prevent mold, bacteria and fungi, can be irritating to the skin and eyes. They can also potentially harm the human reproductive system.

Stain & Water Resistant Chemicals

Many synthetic rugs use stain-resistant chemicals that are often not environmentally friendly. These chemicals have been found to be toxic, carcinogenic, and cause damage to the environment. 
Some of these chemicals are known as PFRs or Para-Poly-Fluro-Resins. Many synthetic rugs do not meet all of the standards set by the Green Guide for Rug Care. Many of these chemicals are not even listed on the label. 

Chemicals used to make water-resistant rugs can be harmful to people who breathe them in or get them on their skin. These chemicals include perfluorinated compounds, which are linked to causing cancer. A study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that chemicals used to make these rugs could leach into the ground and potentially harm the environment. 

Toxic Glues

The glue used to hold some rugs together may contain toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals are often not listed on the label. The toxic chemicals in the glue can be a health risk to anyone who breathes in or gets it on their skin. The chemicals can also cause skin irritation, allergies, or even cancer.

More Reasons Why Polyester Rugs May Not Be An Ideal Area Rug


Many synthetic rugs, including polyester rugs, are made from non-biodegradable materials. These materials are not naturally decomposable and do not decompose even after they are discarded. 

They have become a major problem because of the large amounts of polyester carpet and rugs that are produced every year. In fact, it has been estimated that more than one million tons of synthetic fiber rugs are manufactured each year in the United States alone. The disposal of synthetic fiber rugs is becoming a growing concern due to the increasing number of residential and commercial buildings that are being constructed with synthetic fiber rugs as interior floor covering.

Manufacturing of Polyester is Carbon-Intensive

The manufacturing of polyester fibers requires a high level of energy consumption. This energy consumption is usually derived from fossil fuels, which are considered to be non-renewable resources. Many synthetic fibers, including polyester, are manufactured using chemical processes that require large amounts of energy to heat and process raw materials. Many of the chemical processes used in the manufacturing of polyester fibers also generate large amounts of waste products. These waste products include dyes, solvents, stabilizers, and other chemicals that are used to make the rugs. This is why many people feel that polyester rugs are environmentally unfriendly. 

Short Lifespan

Polyester rugs can last between 5 and 15 years in mid-traffic areas. However, if you place it in high-traffic areas, it will start to show wear and tear sooner. 

Alternatives to Polyester and Synthetic Rugs

Wool Rugs

There are many advantages to using wool rugs instead of polyester rugs, including wool rugs are more durable, they are more comfortable, they are hypoallergenic, they are more eco-friendly, and can last a lifetime with the right care. Wool rugs also have a very low propensity for static electricity and they are very resistant to mold, mildew, and rot. 

Sisal Rugs

There are several benefits to using sisal rugs, including that they can be made in a variety of sizes and shapes and are made from natural fibers. However, one of the most important benefits of using sisal rugs is that they are environmentally friendly. They are made from a natural product and, therefore, don’t require the use of harmful chemicals to produce.

Jute Rugs

There are several benefits of using jute rugs instead of polyester rugs, including that they are a renewable resource. Jute rugs are also very durable and will last for a long time. They also don’t require a lot of maintenance and cleaning. Jute rugs also provide comfort, which is important when you are spending time indoors. And, jute rugs are eco-friendly. They are also naturally anti-static and they are extremely absorbent.

Seagrass Rugs

Seagrass is a natural fiber and a renewable resource. It is environmentally friendly and is a very durable material. It is also an extremely soft and comfortable carpet. The best thing about seagrass is that it is naturally anti-static and is resistant to stains and moisture. The downside to seagrass is that it is not as easy to clean as polyester. Seagrass requires a bit more cleaning than other carpets, but it can be done easily with a vacuum and a few drops of water.

So. Are polyester rugs toxic? Yes, polyester rugs are made out of chemicals that are harmful. 

Therefore, it is not advisable to use these rugs in your home. Instead, you should try and buy natural material rugs (which are much safer and non toxic) or non toxic rug.

If you want to be a conscious consumer and purchase a polyester rug, it is best to do so with great caution. 

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