My four-year-old has now been stuck at home for two months due to the COVID-19 crisis, and she is officially stir crazy. She appears to be taking out her angst on her bedroom rug. Last week, she “decorated” it with a pink marker. Then, she brought grape juice to her room for nap time but proceeded to knock the tumbler over, leaving a large purple stain. Finally, after a particularly muddy walk, she rolled around on it like a puppy, leaving brown smudges everywhere.
Ordinarily a rug wouldn’t stand a chance against a four-year-old’s cabin fever, but fortunately, my daughter’s is from Ruggable, a brand that makes affordable, machine-washable rugs. I was able to strip off the top layer and throw it in the washing machine, and three hours later it looked good as new.
Jeneva Bell, Ruggable’s founder, decided to invent a new kind of rug a decade ago after her dog peed on her pricey, new one. This is a common problem: Area rugs tend to get exposed to a lot of spills and stains—from coffee to red wine to blood—and are notoriously difficult to clean. Traditional rugs consist of tightly knotted or woven fibers that can become warped or discolored when exposed to water or detergents. As a result, some rugs can be spot-cleaned, while others must be taken to a professional. And if you don’t take the rug to the cleaner quickly enough, stains can become permanent. In Bell’s case, for instance, she ended up throwing hers away.
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Bell imagined that people around the world were having similar accidents, so she decided to invent a washable rug. With Ruggable, she has created a two-part carpet system. The base is made from a clingy material, and the upper layer is a thin, lightweight layer that is printed with the design. In practice, the rug ends up looking like any other low-pile rug out there. This year, Ruggable launched high-pile shag rugs that can also be washed.
Ruggable has several factories in the United States. Each is made to order, which allows the company to offer a very wide range of designs, from traditional Persian patterns to modern geometric looks to tribal prints. All of the patterns can be made in many sizes, from runners to 8×10 area rugs. (The company recently launched round rugs based on customer feedback.) And the prices are gentle: 3×5 rugs start at $109, while 8×10 area rugs begin at $399, with a range of sizes in between.
Ruggable uses a printing machine that creates the design on the rug, which is made of polyester and has a water-resistant polyurethane barrier incorporated into it. Ordinarily, orders would arrive at the customer’s house within two weeks, but due to the current crisis, Ruggable is using part of its factory to make masks that will be donated to essential workers. As a result, wait times have been extended to between two and six weeks.
According to Linda Lai, Ruggable’s chief marketing officer, some customers buy a single base, then purchase several rug designs that they swap out throughout the year. This allows them to create looks for their home, depending on the season. They might pick a Halloween-themed rug design that they whip out for their annual party, for instance.
In my case, however, the rug’s biggest selling point is that it’s child-proof. Given that my four-year-old and I are going to be stuck at home for much of the summer—and perhaps even the fall—I’m grateful that I don’t have to stress out the next time she decides to use it as a canvas for a finger-painting project.
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