A sisal rug is a rug made from the agave, commonly known as a cactus. The plant was first discovered in the Yucatan and was named for the port where the fiber was first exported. These plants grow in semi-arid environments and produce large fleshy leaves from which the sisal fiber is crushed and scraped so that only the fibers remain. The fibers are then washed before drying in the sun or alternatively by hot air. It is very important to dry the fiber correctly as the quality of the sisal depends on its moisture content. The washed and dried sisal produces a strong, durable, stretchable material suitable for rugs as well as rope, handicrafts and many other uses. The sisal fiber is also suitable for dyeing and makes it a prime candidate for the making of sisal rugs. The leading exporters of sisal fiber are Brazil, Mexico, China, Tanzania and Kenya. In sisal rugs, sisal is usually blended with wool and acrylic for a softer feel. This is accomplished by a 60% wool and 40% sisal ratio generally. The resulting sisal wool rug is durable as well as soft. Hence you can actually walk on a cactus!
Your sisal rug does have some unique characteristics, apart from being made from a cactus. Sisal will expand or contract depending on the climatic conditions. Sisal rugs are not to be recommended for areas that may receive wet spills or has constant exposure to rain, snow or water in general. Your sisal rug is not recommended for bathroom,Jacuzzi or swimming pool areas. There are best used in indoor applications or in enclosed or screened porches.
How do I care for my sisal rug? Luckily, dirt does not cling to the static-free sisal fiber and vacuuming is the best care you can give it, in addition to keeping it from exposure to water. It goes without saying therefore that sisal rugs should not be steam cleaned or cleaned by any other method that uses water. Remember it this way, it came from the desert and it wants to stay there! If you do happen to spill something on your sisal rug (and you will), blot immediately and dry with a hair dryer or fan. There are products on the market that will coat and protect your carpet from absorbing moisture also. Check with your local rug dealer for information on this solution.