Polyester vs Polypropylene Rugs

Polyester vs Polypropylene Rugs

Polyester vs Polypropylene

Polyester or polypropylene? These are two of the most popular types of synthetic fiber rugs, with good reason. While they’re extremely similar, they still have a few important differences that make them better suited for certain lifestyles. If you want to feel confident in your purchase, arm yourself with all the knowledge you need using this guide to polyester vs. polypropylene rugs.

Pros and Cons of A Polyester or Polypropylene Rug

Both polyester and polypropylene, also known as olefin, are plastics. The difference between these two synthetic rug materials is how they’re transformed from fossil fuel to fluffy rug fiber. Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between polyester and polypropylene rugs.


Polyester and polypropylene rugs are both a great value. Their affordability makes them wonderful options for non-permanent spaces like rentals, dorm rooms, or baby nurseries. Because these rugs are man-made, they come in endless colors and styles that mimic more expensive versions, so you can still get the look, but for less.


Beyond costing less, these rugs are also less hassle. In fact, polyester and polypropylene are some of the easiest rug materials to clean. The trade-off? They wear faster compared to rugs made from raw organic fibers. Basically, with either polyester or polypropylene, you get a simple, stunning rug for the short-term.


It’s important to remember that the name of the fiber used doesn’t indicate a rug’s true quality. For a full picture of how a rug will perform in your home, check out our Complete Rug Buying Guide for all the other factors you should consider. But here is a tidy overview of the pros and cons of both rug materials:

  • Shared Pros: comfortable, affordable, water resistant, stain resistant, fade resistant, super easy to clean
  • Shared Cons: low resilience, oil absorbent

Look and Feel: Polyester vs Polypropylene

Polyester and polypropylene are actual plastic, so they’re flexible and tough materials. But as rug fibers, they’re also supremely soft. Density and overall fluffiness will come down to the specific construction of your rug. That being said, polypropylene is frequently said to share the lavish, cozy quality of wool. You can always make up for less cushioning in either type of rug by using a rug pad underneath it.

Durability Of The Rug Types

Because of their smooth, solid surfaces, polyester and polypropylene rugs aren’t made to bounce back under heavy foot traffic. In an entryway or hallway, for example, these rugs will look gorgeous and remain stain free, but they won’t have much staying power. Polyester will be the first to show wear and tear, with the fibers coming undone into frayed edges after enough use. A nylon rug would be the strongest choice, but all synthetic fiber rugs will lose their softness over time.

Stain Resistance

Here’s where both polyester and polypropylene rugs truly shine and prove their might. Not only do the fibers hold radiant colors exceptionally well, but because of their tight construction, it’s virtually impossible to alter a synthetic rug’s color with a stain. In fact, water-based spills famously wipe away from a synthetic rug’s smooth surface.

That being said, both polyester and polypropylene rugs are known to dull and yellow with regular skin contact. The oily residue discolors the rug fibers as it builds on top of them. Polyester rugs are better than polypropylene rugs at keeping their texture and they won’t dull as quickly. For a better breakdown of a polyester rug’s qualities, read our full guide to Why You Need a Polyester Rug.

Which Rug Is The Best For Water Resistance?

Polypropylene and polyester rugs repel moisture, so they’re less likely to grow mold or mildew. This also means moisture damage – like you’d typically see with pet urine or everyday spills – isn’t so much a concern with these types of rugs. Polypropylene is the less absorbent between the two so it’s better suited for accident-prone households.

To make sure liquids won’t sink into either material, just make sure the base of your rug is not made of jute. A plastic backing will keep out odor and mold, while a natural fiber jute backing will hold it in.

Rug Placement

Both polypropylene and polyester rug fibers absorb oily substances, so they shouldn’t be used under a vanity where makeup or lotions could take a tumble. A kitchen or dining room would also be a risky placement choice for these types of rugs if you’re wanting to make them last.

Never fear. You can make the most use of your stain-resistant synthetic rug in a living room or outdoor seating area. The low cost of these materials makes it especially convenient for covering these larger areas. Polypropylene is least likely to fade or mold over in these areas, but neither rug is in true danger.

Rug Maintenance and Care

While both polypropylene and polyester rugs are often described as “heavy-duty” in terms of their strength, this also applies to their easy cleaning. Since polypropylene and polyester rugs have synthetic weaves, they offer no pockets to hide dirt. This is a blessing in disguise, since regular vacuuming is really all that’s required to keep these rugs looking fresh. Spot cleaning is typically all that’s needed for stain removal.

Lifespan Of Polyester and Polypropylene Rugs

Neither polypropylene nor polyester rugs need to be confined to low-traffic areas, but they’ll certainly last longer if they are. Both synthetic materials tend to last anywhere from 3 to 5 years, meaning you’re not locked into a single look or style forever. All things considered, a short lifespan is a small price to pay for a colorfast, quick-to-clean rug.


Are polyester rugs safe for babies and pets? What about polypropylene rugs? Short answer, yes! Either type of rug is a safe addition to your home decor. However, you may want to take a few considerations into account:

  • Both polyester and polypropylene are made from non-renewable fossil fuels. Neither are biodegradable when thrown away and both create microplastics. If you’re worried about your rug’s impact on the planet, avoid polyester and polypropylene and choose a wool or cotton rug instead.
  • Like all synthetic rug materials, polyester rugs and polypropylene rugs will initially release VOCs (volatile organic compounds) through off gassing. These tiny chemicals come from all kinds of home furnishings, and they’re safe in small amounts. Be sure to unroll any synthetic rug in a well-ventilated space for the first few days to whisk away the VOCs and keep your family safe. Read more about VOCs and new rug smell in our dedicated guide.
  • Some rugs of either material include a latex backing to make them slip-free. Look for latex-free rugs if you or a family member has an allergy.

While polyester and polypropylene have much in common, each rug can outlast the other in certain situations. To explore more durable synthetic fiber rugs or consider the advantages of natural fiber rugs, check out our Guide to the Best Types of Rug Materials.

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