My apartment has several different kinds of rugs: a Persian-style area rug from The Home Depot in the living room, a vintage Turkish rug I sourced on Etsy (a prized possession) in my bedroom, a flatweave, tasseled number that serves as a bath mat in the bathroom, and a gray, woven jute rug in the dining room.
If you’d asked me which of these rugs I thought might be the highest maintenance before I bought them, I probably would have guessed the vintage Turkish one. But nope, that rug is sturdy, which makes sense, as it’s in fabulous condition despite its 50+ year age. The most challenging of them all is actually… the jute rug.
It’s difficult to maneuver chairs over (they get stuck in the lumps and bumps), it holds onto crumbs and debris like nobody’s business (guess I should’ve gone for a flat weave under the dining table), it’s unraveling in one corner, and it sheds.
I was so excited to add this rug to my dining room when I got it. I had mood-boarded the whole thing, carefully plotted how best to pull the space together, and decided that a simple, gray woven rug was the best way to ground the passthrough eating area. Setting it all up, it looked amazing. The gray broke up all the warm wood tones, played off the dark wall paint, and acted as a clear divider into the dining room.
But what I was not prepared for was the layer of fine dust that collects under it. At first, I was horrified by what I thought was dirt we were bringing inside the apartment. I sweep and vacuum regularly, so I felt like I must’ve just been neglecting to clean under the rug like a heathen. But nope, none of the other rugs in my apartment were collecting that much dust, and with a little bit of Googling, I found that lots of other jute-rug owners were having the same issue.
Turns out that because jute rugs are made with plant fibers, they become a bit brittle from being woven into knots and braids, leaving them very susceptible to shedding tiny little fibers, aka the dust. Unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of preventing shedding, aside from regular vacuuming.
According to Elise Peters, Food52’s assistant buyer, shedding is a normal part of owning a jute rug. “You should really be vacuuming pretty regularly to maintain it,” she says, adding: “It’s also a good idea to do a more thorough vacuuming maybe three times a year where you vacuum the front of the rug, flip it to vacuum the back side, and then do the front again one last time.”
Another issue that became apparent was the rug’s slippage on my wood floors. While rugs typically benefit from a non-slip pad or some rug tape, most stay in place without one, only needing minor adjustments from time to time. The jute rug? It’s constantly trying to escape me—flipping, sliding, and scooting away. In an effort to remedy this, I bought two different kinds of rug adhesive: thick, sticky corner pieces and double-sided rug tape. I decided to use both for maximum effect, but the rug had other ideas. Within a month of sticking it down, the rug freed itself from its adhesive prison and started flopping around all over again. I haven’t tried to stick it back down since, because, well, I’m tired.
One more thing: my beloved Roomba does not get along with this rug. It’s like bringing a puppy home to an established family cat… the Roomba is intent on destroying it. Yes, it’s my fault for setting the Roomba loose to munch on the delicious jute fibers, but again, I’m tired. He often comes back inside with a dead mouse in his mouth, confused that I don’t appreciate his offering.
Even after all this, I still think that jute rugs are a really beautiful piece for a home. The natural fibers and chunky weave bring just enough texture without overwhelming a space, and they’re great to layer more colorful, statement rugs on top. The trick here is to do your research and prepare for the trade-offs when buying. Pore over reviews, make sure they’re listed as “low-shed,” plan for your rug to be in a lower traffic area, and don’t let your Roomba get a hold of it.
Still interested in jute rugs? Here are some fan favorites should you decide to eschew the call of the wild (fibers).
1. Armadillo Handwoven Jute & Wool Runners, from $340
These jute rugs are woven with wool so they’re more durable and less dusty. They’re also made with fair-trade practices in India.
2. Ruggable Flatwoven Warm Sand Re-Jute Rug, from $160
Ruggable is known for its family and pet-friendly rugs that can be popped right in the washing machine, and it now has a line of rugs that look like jute, but without the fuss.
3. Ouna Berber Kilim Rug, from
If you’re looking for subtle texture and natural fibers, kilim rugs are a great option. This one blends cream and black, which coordinates with nearly every room.
4. Rugs.com Braided Jute Rug, from
This is a classic jute rug—natural fibers, lots of texture, and natural color variation. It’s also very highly rated, comes in 26 sizes and shapes (!), as well as seven dyed colors.
For minimal shed and lots of texture, consider a woven cotton rug as opposed to jute fibers. These guys come in different variations, and can even be machine washed!