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Polypropylene carpet: pros and cons, cleaning and comparisons

What is a polypropylene carpet?

Polypropylene (also known as olefin) is a synthetic material, meaning it’s man-made. It’s popular due to its combination of stain resistance, softness and value for money.

Designed for the modern home, polypropylene is suitable for parents and pet owners alike. It’s also bleach-cleanable, making it easier to remove spillages and stains.

Wool vs polypropylene

Polypropylene is a synthetic and therefore cheaper alternative to natural wool carpeting. However, there are pros and cons to both materials:

 

Cleaning Durability Price

Wool

  • Resistant to fading—wool can sustain its original colour over years of wear and cleaning.
  • Shedding—due to the way natural carpets are designed, wool fibres can shed and get caught in your clothes.
  • Easy to stain—spills can become permanent stains if you don’t clean them up quickly. Greasy and oily stains can be particularly troublesome.
  • Durable—wool is naturally long-lasting and recovers quickly when crushed.
  • Flame-retardant—has a higher ignition point, meaning it’s less likely to catch fire via dropped matches, cigarettes and fire sparks.
  • Insects—moths and carpet beetles sometimes live in wool carpets.
  • Cost—due to being a natural product, its manufacturing costs are higher and therefore so is the price.

Polypropylene

  • Stain-resistant—the man-made fibres resist almost all typical stains.
  • Bleach-cleanable—almost any tough stain can be cleaned up with a bleach solution.
  • Oil staining—oil-based stains are difficult to clean up, even with bleach. You will need to pay for professional cleaning.
  • Resistant to fading—protected from sunlight.
  • Water-resistant—polypropylene fibres have water-resistant properties so won’t go mouldy as easily.
  • Flammable—the fibres can easily melt and burn from sources of heat. Avoid using in rooms with open fires.
  • Less resilient—heavy objects and footfall can crush the fibres.
  • Excellent value for money—a cheap carpet which can resist stains and is easy to clean.

Wool or carpet for the stairs?

Polypropylene if… you have a young family, as it can resist stains well and is easy to clean.

Wool if… you live in a busy, but adult, household. Wool is incredibly resilient to crushing and footfall. It’s long-lasting and environmentally friendly. However, it can stain easily and is a pricier option—this can be a bad combination for parents with small children.

Polyester vs polypropylene

Polypropylene and polyester are both synthetic fibres. They share plenty of similarities, but the differences are worth noting.

 

Cleaning Durability Price

Polyester

  • Resistant to water-based stains—doesn’t absorb water easily, meaning you can wipe spills right off the carpet.
  • Fraying—over time the polyester’s fibres can un-twirl themselves, making the carpet look frayed.
  • Comfort—while it can depend on price and brand, generally polyester is known to be comfortable underfoot.
  • Poor lifespan—the average lifespan for most carpets is 10–15 years. With heavy use, polyester may only last for 10 years.
  • Resilient—can suffer damage through heavy footfall or heavy items being dragged over it. 
  • Reasonable price—polyester is affordable as it’s made from a synthetic material.

Polypropylene

  • Stain-resistant—the man-made fibres resist almost all typical stains.
  • Bleach-cleanable—almost any tough stain can be cleaned up with a bleach solution.
  • Oil staining—oil-based stains are difficult to clean up, even with bleach. You will need to pay for professional cleaning.
  • Resistant to fading—protected from sunlight.
  • Water-resistant—polypropylene fibres have water-resistant properties so won’t go mouldy as easily.
  • Flammable—the fibres can easily melt and burn from sources of heat. Avoid using in rooms with open fires.
  • Less resilient—heavy objects and footfall can crush the fibres.
  • Excellent value for money—a cheap carpet which can resist stains and is easy to clean.

Nylon vs polypropylene

Nylon is one of the most popular synthetic fibres around.

 

Cleaning Durability Price

Nylon

  • Non-absorbent—nylon dries quickly, meaning stains shouldn’t soak in.
  • Not bleach-friendly—stains cannot be bleach-cleaned and will require professional cleaning.
  • Resilient—the structure of the nylon fibres means the carpet won’t crush easily.
  • Elastic—nylon can stretch up to 33% of its length while still retaining its original shape, which is good for high-traffic areas
  • Fading—due to the colouring process, the carpet may fade in the sun.
  • Price—nylon is more expensive than polypropylene.

Polypropylene

  • Stain-resistant—the man-made fibres resist almost all typical stains.
  • Bleach-cleanable—almost any tough stain can be cleaned up with a bleach solution.
  • Oil staining—oil-based stains are difficult to clean up, even with bleach. You will need to pay for professional cleaning.
  • Resistant to fading—protected from sunlight.
  • Water-resistant—polypropylene fibres have water-resistant properties so won’t go mouldy as easily.
  • Flammable—the fibres can easily melt and burn from sources of heat. Avoid using in rooms with open fires.
  • Less resilient—heavy objects and footfall can crush the fibres.
  • Excellent value for money—a cheap carpet which can resist stains and is easy to clean.

How to clean polypropylene carpets:

You can clean your polypropylene carpet by standard methods:

  • Vacuuming—for regular cleaning
  • Bleach solution—for removing stains
  • Steam—for a deep clean

Best way to clean polypropylene carpets

  1. Vacuum debris

Maintaining your carpet with a weekly vacuum will keep dust from sticking to the fibres. If you have spilt anything on the carpet, ensure you give it a quick vacuuming first.

  1. Blot the stain

If you can capture the stain before it dries, blot the mess with a clean, dry towel. Never rub the stain as that can grind it into the fibres. If there are any pieces of food, use a dull knife to scrape it off. Vacuum again if necessary.

  1. Clean the stain

Mix a small amount of liquid detergent with one cup of cold water. Use a wet sponge to rub the stain with soapy water. Then blot the affected area with a clean, dry rag. Repeat as necessary.

  1. Final vacuum

Give your carpet another vacuuming to ensure you have cleaned everything up.

How to clean carpet with bleach

If you own a 100% polypropylene carpet, you can bleach-clean difficult stains such as wine, ink and mud. Because of the way the carpet is dyed, it won’t fade.

  1. Use a solution of 10% thin domestic bleach and 90% tap water
  2. Pour into a spray bottle
  3. Evenly cover the stain
  4. Leave for 30–60 minutes
  5. Rinse thoroughly with water
  6. Vacuum/brush any stubborn dirt

Can you steam polypropylene carpets?

Yes. It’s recommended you steam-clean your polypropylene carpet every few months so it keeps its condition for longer. Steam cleaning is easy, hygienic, affordable and efficient. 

To find out how to steam-clean polypropylene carpets, take a look at our carpet cleaning guide.

Best polypropylene carpet

Xtron Sandstorm Deep Pile Saxony Carpet

  • Soft, deep pile
  • Bleach-cleanable
  • 10-year warranty
  • Available in 11 stunning colours
  • Price: £14.49 m2

Click here to visit product page

FAQs

Is polypropylene carpet fire-retardant?

No.

Polypropylene has a low ignition point, meaning it can catch fire at a lower temperature than other carpets. This should not be a concern, so long as you keep matches and candles at a safe distance and height. Don’t use polypropylene in a room with an open fireplace.

Do moths eat polypropylene carpet?

No.

Moths aren’t able to eat synthetic fibres. Natural fibres such as wool, however, can become infested with moths very easily. If you are having trouble with carpet moths, it’s worth switching to a synthetic material.

Is polypropylene carpet looped or twist pile?

Both.

Polypropylene can be both looped and twisted, although 100% polypropylene is more commonly used as a loop pile such as Berber. Loop carpets are often more durable due to the tight binding of the fibre.

How can I remove folding creases from a polypropylene carpet?

Removing folding creases from any type of carpet can be tough. However, there are two ways to tackle folding creases on polypropylene carpet by yourself:

  1. Wait for it to settle by itself—it might seem obvious, but the creases should even out after being walked over. This is the safest option to avoid any serious damage to your carpet.
  2. Place heavy furniture or weights on the crease—this can remove creases fairly quickly. However, be careful that you don’t leave it too long as it could crush the fibres permanently.

Does polypropylene carpet flatten?

Polypropylene can eventually crush due to heavy footfall or large objects. Frequent steaming and cleaning will help keep the polypropylene thicker. However, using polypropylene in high-traffic areas isn’t recommend—it’s more suited to bedrooms and living rooms etc.

Related content

How to choose your carpet material

Nylon carpet FAQs

Polyester carpet FAQs

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