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3 Easy Steps to Cleaning a Genuine Sheepskin Rug

3 Easy Steps to Cleaning a Genuine Sheepskin Rug

When I was a little girl my grandparents brought our family back a large sheepskin rug from their religious mission to Australia. Since then, I have had a love for the genuine fur. My siblings and I would lay on the rug as we watched TV. We’d put a blanket on top and sleep on it. We’d roll each other up in it like bugs in a rug and have fun that way too.

I decided that I would have them in my home when I grew up and had my own kids. So now I own a few.

I put one in the nursery.

3 Easy Steps to Cleaning a Genuine Sheepskin Rug

Boys Nursery

and one in our living room.

livingroomafter

I also bought a sheepskin pillow that the kids love to play on.

Sheepskin rug cleaning tips

As you can see, they came in handy for our baby’s photoshoot.

3 Easy Steps to Cleaning a Genuine Sheepskin Rug

 

The problem is, for awhile I didn’t know how to clean them.

So I took the one that was dirtiest to a local dry cleaner that specialized in rugs and paid a pricey amount to have it cleaned. I asked the cleaner how he did it and was surprised when he told me how. It is quite easy! I have since just cleaned them at home by myself (saving $50-$100 each time!).

You’ll need:

  •  sheepskin detergent
  •  a microfiber rag or towel cloth
  •  a large tooth comb or sheepskin carding brush
  • You’ll want a fan, fireplace, a place to hang it outside, or a space heater to help with the drying process. You can use the sun on white sheepskin rugs to help bleach and dry after cleaning as well.

Read the label of your rug to see what kind of washing is recommended. Smaller rugs can often be gently washed in a washing machine with sheepskin rug detergent (instructions below). Larger rugs typically can get ruined in a washing machine and are best hand-washed.

Directions for general cleaning and spot cleaning:

Prepare to clean it by shaking out or vacuuming the rug (only vacuum longhair rugs without the vacuum beater bar).

3 Easy Steps to Cleaning a Genuine Sheepskin Rug

Follow the instructions on the sheepskin detergent bottle. Gently wash/scrub going with the ‘grain’ or direction the fur goes. Rewash the areas until the stains and dirt are out. Use a towel with just water to get extra detergent off.

3 Easy Steps to Cleaning a Genuine Sheepskin Rug

Next, comb through the sheep hair with a large-tooth comb like a pick, or even better, brush it out with a sheepskin brush while it is still damp.

Finally, hang the rug to dry. You can drape it near a heater vent, space heater, outside, by a fireplace, and/or point a fan on it.  I put mine on a chair a good 3 feet from our fire place with its fan on and it was dry in a few hours. Comb or brush through the rug after it is clean and dry if needed.

Directions for a full immersed clean: 

Note – If you get the hide area really wet, chances are your rug will shrink slightly (the first time you wash it this way). This is what happened when I took mine to the dry cleaners. He immersed the rug in water and when it dried it was shrunk 1/2 foot vertically and about 1/4 foot horizontally (he warned me prior to doing this and I told him it would be okay). If you don’t want your rug to shrink, then do not immerse it in water (use the instructions above). If a little shrinking doesn’t bother you, proceed.

Prepare to clean it by shaking out or vacuuming the rug (only vacuum longhair rugs without the beater bar).

First, fill a tub with cool water and sheepskin detergent. Immerse the sheepsking rug in water and scrub spots out while it is in the water.

Rinse detergent out if instructions require.

The rug will be very heavy and wet at this point. Do not ring it or you may crack the hide. Gently squeeze water out.

Finally, hang the rug to dry. You can drape it near a heater vent, space heater, outside, by a fireplace, and/or point a fan on it. Hang it fur-side faced down, with towels under it to absorb the drip. Comb or brush through the rug while it is still somewhat damp. Allow it to dry completely and comb through it again.

Machine washing

Follow instructions on the sheepskin detergent bottle, but I highly recommend only using a machine if your rug is small. I wouldn’t recommend machine washing anything over 3 feet as the hide can crack and tear. DO NOT tumble dry.

Finally, hang the rug to dry. You can drape it near a heater vent, space heater, outside, by a fireplace, and/or point a fan on it. Hang it fur-side faced down, with towels under it to absorb the drip. Comb or brush through the rug while it is still somewhat damp. Allow it to dry completely and comb through it again.

So that’s it!

Where to find genuine sheepskin rugs

I bought the rugs and pillows at Costco (which often has the best prices) and off of the local classifieds. I have often seen them on Amazon,  MyHabit, and Gilt deeply discounted as well.

Enjoy your clean sheepskin rug!

Anita

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6 Responses to 3 Easy Steps to Cleaning a Genuine Sheepskin Rug

  1. john Mahoney says:

    I didn’t realize that large sheepskin rugs could get damaged in a washing machine. I can see why knowing this can be very useful, I would want to keep my rug in good conditions. I will make sure not read the instruction carefully when it comes to cleaning my sheepskin rugs. Thank you for the tips, I’ll keep them in mind.

    • Anita Fowler says:

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Vicki says:

        It will depend on where it was tanned. The ones from Australia suggest to not put it in the sun at all. Sun will UV damage hides. It is best to dry on no heat, or just delicate warm heat (delicate setting only!) in dryer, or on a gentle warm day outside, OUT of the sun. If inside, drape it just as you suggest:) Don’t place near a heaters etc…not recommended…sorry, as it can do damage to the pelt due to uneven drying and heating of the wool. Fireplaces can also throw embers and add smoke smell to the pelt. Hmmm, maybe not? I love the fan idea however! Good thinking!
        Using a pet brush (the finishing kind used on Maltese dogs etc) are great for getting the pile to return to that soft look and feel. Bush gently upward, one small area at a time, then with the grain to ‘finish’. If you do put into a washer, use the non-agitation kind on the most delicate setting…as then the skin will not get damaged. Also use the correct detergent for it that you can get for wool horse blankets, or the kind sold in Sheep Skin stores that have the correct product without any bleaches, or harsh chemicals. Sheep skin can also be treated on the hide part with a special spray that keeps in the tanning oils, and you can get that as well at the sheepskin rug suppliers. However, the ones from Australia usually do not need that as they are prepared in the tanning process to take washing, unlike other pelts. An older skin would benefit however. Be sure the company you got the rug from has that tanning process at the start. If they don’t know, chances are it is from China, and they do not do that process in tanning, and cheaper skins. It is why you can get a ‘hard or brittle’ finish after it gets wet. Not fun. I had one do that from Scotland…darn! Anyway, love your page, and hope this also helps a bit too:) Cheers!

  2. Simona says:

    Thanks for this Anita. I’ve done the same as you and always taken mine to the dry cleaner and paid a small fortune for it. But these products look inexpensive so I think it’s worth trying to clean it myself!

  3. idlehouse says:

    thank you for your instruction. I have the exact rug as yours, alas, my kids acted as if they have a grudge against it or something, so I needed this.

  4. John Ferrell says:

    I like that you said that we need to prepare to clean it. If I was going to have a sheepskin rug I would want to know that I could take care of it and make it clean. You might want to ask a professional for help cleaning it when the time comes.

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