The Truth About Tencel Carpet and Rugs

Manufactures understand that there is a marketing advantage to positioning a product as “new”, “different”, “green”, etc. The more of these buzzwords that can be applied the better.

In the field of textiles, one of the newest items on the block is the new fiber called Tencel. Let’s take a look beyond the hype and see what makes this new fiber tick.


Manufactured fibers often have two types of names: A generic name and one or more trade names. Polyester, for example, is the generic name for a synthetic fiber that is sold under various trade names including: “Trevira” and “Dacron”. “Herculon” was a trade name ( WAY back when) for an olefin fiber produces by Hercules, Inc.

Similarly, “Tencel” (rhymes with “pencil”) is the trade name for the generic fiber called lyocell. Produced by the Austria based fiber giant Lenzing, local was developed in the 1970’s and was first commercialized in the 1990’s. As the newest thing on the block, it makes sense that the fiber was first incorporated in uber-chic couture fabrics. Over the years, it eventually made its way into home linens and upholsterer fabrics.

Lycell didn’t really gain significant traction until 2005, when Lenzing bough the Tencel business that had been started by rival Courtaulds. Lenzing brought formidable efforts to bear – both technical and marketing in support of the Tencel brand.


There is a LOT of hype in the Tencel marketing we’ve seen. Antibacterial, manages indoor moisture, sustainable, biodegradeable, etc. Distilled to just facts, tow things stand out:
The manufacturing process for viscose ( the most common form of rayon) is considered “dirty”. The manufacturing process for Tencel recovers and reuses the majority of the spinning chemical, making is a “greerer” fiber.
2. Unlike viscose, Tencel does not lose its strength when wet. Tencel also shrinks significantly less than viscose

What really matters, however, is: How does Tencel carpet perform?


While we have given a general “thumbs up” to Tencel upholstery fabrics, Tencel floor coverings are an entirely different animal.

Textile floor coverings are often used in very demanding environments which get foot traffic, pet traffic, outdoor soils, indoor soils and stains. The best floor coverings will do two things very well:
Resist crushing from foot traffic, and
Respond well to water-based cleaning methods

The first point has to do with resiliency. Generally, wool is considered best in this category, with many nylon products rating very good as well. Olefin is known for its poor resiliency. Also known for crush-resistance are the cellulosics: cotton, linen, rayon….. and Tencel ( lyocell).

To be fair, the Tencel carpets we have seen are mostly dense constructions, meaning they will hold up somewhat better than the would otherwise. It’s a moot point, however, because the real stumbling point is cleanability.

The manufactures’ cleaning instructions we have seen are very specific in their recommendation for cleaning Tencel carpet: “Dry Clean Only”. This type of limitation is far from ideal, butt let’s look at how it relates to Tencel carpets.

First, the “dry clean only” suggestion does not always mean that other methods are not always mean that other methods are not also safe. Many upholstery fabrics carry this instruction but are safely wet cleanable.

Based on the testing we’ve done, we believe the manufactures are on the right track and the Tencel carpets should NOT be wet cleaned. Routine wet cleaning methods tend to leave the surface of the carpet distorted / shaded. Also, the Tencel fibers can become stiff after being wet, causeng a significant texture change.

What about the viability of dry cleaning? HOST is the most commonly recommended dry cleaning process for Tencel carpets. A moist powder ( looks like damp sawdust) is sprinkled on the carpet surface and then worked through using a machine with counter-rotating brushes.

Once the HOST product has dried (usually about an hour), the dried material is vacuumed from the carpet.

The problem with this method are multiple:
It does not do the thorough, rinse-type cleaning that water extraction does.
The method relies on a relatively aggressive brushing action which may be too severe for Tencel carpets.
HOST powder can be very difficult to completely remove from the carpet without very thorough vacuuming.


The very limited cleanability of Tencel carpets should be respected. Though we would like to recommend otherwise, it is our opinion that Tencel carpets should be installed only in areas that receive minimal traffic.


Fall 2015 Area Rug Introductions

Here is a sneak peak of some of our new arrivals coming this Fall.  Dune, Rhythm, Mirage, Tangier II, Shalimar, Serevan.  Visit Hemphill’s Rugs & Carpets in Costa Mesa, CA and see our great collection of all types of floor covering.  Don’t forget to purchase a Miele vacuum from us to protect and clean your carpet, rugs, and hard surface floors.


Dune 113840A Dunes 113838A Dunes 113839A Dunes 113839B Mirage 113630A Mirage 113630B Mirage 113630C Rhythm 108636A Rhythm 113636B Serevan 113595B Serevan 113595C Shalimar 113263B Shalimar 113264B Shalimar 113266B Tangier II 110533A Tangier II 110835A Vogue 113632A Vogue 113632B Vogue 113633A Vogue 113634A Vogue 113634B

Hemphill’s Rugs & Carpets Showroom Virtual Tour – 448 E 17th Street Costa Mesa, CA




Just Arrived: Mesa

Just arrived to our showroom.  A unique blend of wool, viscose and cotton.  This colorful carpet can be installed wall to wall or made into area rugs of any size.

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A Wools of New Zealand Premier Partner Showroom of Excellence.

Visit our websites:

Featuring brands such as: Rosecore, Stark, Nourison, Karastan, Cavan, Antrim, Stanton, Godfrey Hirst, Moda, Camelot, Masland, Fabrica, Dixie Home, Robertex, Woolshire, Hibernia, Godfrey Hirst, Surya, Uttermost, Richard Marshall, Concepts International, Prestige Mills, Safavieh, Feizy Rugs, InnerAsia, Saddleman’s of Sante Fe, Yerra, Dalyn, Delos, Design Materials, Fibreworks, Natural Carpet Company, Bellbridge, Radici, Old Vines wood floor, Royal Dutch, Hycraft, Hagaman, Unique Carpets, Gangchen Carpets of Tibet, Kalaty, Transocean, Olde Charleston Wood Floor, Rugs International, Zoroufy Stair Rods and more

Undyed Natural Wool Carpet

There are those who wish to be as environmentally benign as possible. We do have an assortment of products for those folks. They are Sierra Naturals, Cascade Naturals, Softer Than Sisal Naturals, Four Seasons, and Stratford. These products use no chemical dyes; their colors are created by blending the natural colors that exist in wool. Hence, no powder blue.

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But those who want powder blue often ask why natural dyes are no longer used to create color. Well over one hundred years ago, synthetic dyes came into being due to population growth and the need to use irrigable land for other uses than to grow indigo, saffron, madder, and woad (woad? Like wocky woad?) strictly for use as dyes. Dyes used to dye wool are all well established acid dyes and if your customers have furniture, curtains, upholstered automobiles, and clothes, they regularly come into contact with this stuff. Additionally, natural dyes generally have poor lightfastness properties and require heavy metal mordants (to help natural dyes affix to the fiber) so they really aren’t necessarily an environmental improvement. By comparison, acid dyes have no toxicity concerns and are not hazardous to the environment since exhaustion of the dyes onto wool is almost 100% so there are only minimal traces of dyes in the outflow. Read this again, it may be on the final exam.


Our showroom offers wool carpet and area rugs from: Unique Carpets, Masland, Woolshire, Fabrica, Hibernia, Godfrey Hirst, Hycraft, Couristan, Karastan, Bellbridge, Radici, Nourison, Luxelooms, Prestige Mills, Rodeo, Antrim, Cavan, Weave Tuft, Missoni, Concepts International, Rugs International, Obeetee, Hagaman, Design Materials, Fibreworks, Robertex, Stanton, Royal Dutch and more.

Karastan Wool Carpet: New Introductions 2014

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Karastan, the largest processor of wool carpets and rugs in America, will debut 12 stunning wool styles for 2014.  In my opinion, this collection of new Karastan carpet introductions for 2014 is the most exciting in at least the past 10 years.  Bill Storey, a Karastan veteran of nearly 3 decades, is now President and his efforts during the past year are clearly evident.

  • Karaloc Introductions: Karastan’s Karaloc looms, which were originally introduced in 1934, enable weaving the carpet and backing together into one unit. The result is a unique, high-quality product that contributed to the development of Karastan’s reputation as a leader in luxury home décor. Even 80 years later, consumers continue to swoon over the traditional and sophisticated styles of Karastan’s Karaloc carpets. For 2014, Karastan utilizes this traditional process to create three trendy, must-have products, all of which carry the Wools of New Zealand brand. The introductions include: Worstead Weave, a small check that makes a big fashion statement; Worstead Elegance, a classy addition to Karastan’s wool category; and Patola, inspired by ikat designs and current fashion trends and using striated colors to create a unique dimensional look for fun, fresh, fabulous fashion.
  • Axminster Introductions: New Zealand wool is the purest, whitest wool in the world, offering excellent dyeing characteristics that create long-lasting colors. New Zealand wool is raised with little impact on the natural landscape. It is a renewable and biodegradable fiber that is one of the world’s most environmentally friendly products. “Wool has maintained an elite position in the flooring industry,” said Storey. “For those designers and home owners with an eye for high-end style and an unwillingness to compromise for less than the best, Karastan continues to provide retailers with answers for every project.” In 2014, Karastan offers three new 100% wool Axminster patterns: Violetta, which features loose, casual lines that meander gently into backgrounds of artichoke green, natural tan and chocolate brown; Serafina, whererows of square spirals march neatly across a palette of earth tones in Greek Key Square; and Florenza, in which simple, delicate leaf patterns against shades of tan, brown or green provide a soft natural backdrop to any traditional décor.
  • Tufted Introductions: Luxurious Edge, a 100% New Zealand wool tufted product, features light threads of classic beige to create a two-tone effect with earthy tans, browns and blues in this comfortable and relaxed wool loop.
  • Karastan Wool Blend Introductions: Karastan is also launching five additional wool blend products. A true differentiate for Karastan retailers, these five tufted styles provide a wide variety of pricing options and unique looks. Rounding out this impressive lineup of impressive wool products, the 2014 wool blend introductions include:
    • Reinvention: Gently etched into varying neutral-toned backgrounds, this graceful design evokes ancient minarets in exotic lands—or perhaps a curved porcelain vase—in a gorgeous cut pile texture with hand-carved detailing.
    • Artisan Brush: The random, graceful undulations of tree bark are beautifully replicated in this striped pattern with a coordinating color palette.
    • Iconic Square: Modern geometrics take center stage with tetris-shaped patterns carved onto various fashion-forward colored backgrounds. Blue tones dominate this tufted wool blend.
    • Innovative Flair: This wool blend elevates classic gray to stunning elegance. The upscale braided pattern, clean lines and tight texture offer a lovely formal look and timeless sophistication.
    • Perfectionist: This blended wool product uses an upscale grid pattern with clean lines, offering a timeless look. Coordinates beautifully with Innovative Flair.

Purchase Karastan carpet and area rugs at HEMPHILL’S RUGS & CARPETS in Orange County, CA – 949-722-7224

Ulster Wool Carpet of England

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Ulster is one of the many brands of wool carpet offered by Hemphill’s Rugs & Carpets in Orange County, CA .  Ulster is unique in that the material is offered in a variety of widths including 3′ wide which is great for hall and stair runners.  Also, the carpet is offered in 5 meter widths (16′) which is great for large area rugs and fewer seams.

Hemphill’s Rugs & Carpets is recognized by the Wools of New Zealand as a Premier Partner Showroom of Excellence. Thus, our clients find great wool area rugs, runners and carpet from companies like: Stanton, Karastan, Hibernia Woolen Mills, Godfrey Hirst, Hycraft, Masland, Fabrica, Radici of Italy, Woolshire, Robertex, Carousel, Prestige Mills, Stark, Weave-Tuft, Missoni, Concepts International, Fibreworks, Design Materials, Bellbridge, Unique Carpets, Couristan, Nourison and more.

Need carpet cleaning tips, you will find them on our website