You may be wondering how to clean a sheepskin rug at home without damaging it. The good news is there are several easy ways to do this. These include; vacuuming the rug, shaking the rug out, spot washing the rug, and many other methods. There are also various ways that you can remove fats, grease and food stains from sheepskin rugs, as well as clean up pet urine, liquids and spillages. Read on to discover the expert guide on how to wash a sheepskin rug at home without causing any damage to it.
How to Clean A Sheepskin Rug At Home – What Are Sheepskin Rugs?
Sheepskin rugs are made of the complete natural skin and wool fibers of a sheep. The top side is the wool fiber, often called the fleece. The underside is the skin. It’s during the tanning process that the wool fibers are permanently attached to the skin, and the skin becomes what we know as leather.
Sheepskin rugs are naturally an off white or ivory color, rather than a bright white color. Since that is the natural color of wool. However, sheepskin rugs can be dyed in a variety of different colors.
Faux sheepskin rugs are made from a mix of polyester and acrylic fibers. They are usually long fibers designed to imitate the look and feel of a real sheepskin rug.
Why Have A Sheepskin Rug?
There are lots of reasons why someone may want a sheepskin rug in their home or property. Some of these reasons are outlined below.
Sheepskin Rugs Add Luxury And Comfort To A Home
Sheepskin rugs are naturally stylish and add luxury and elegance to any home or interior. Add the fact that they’re very soft, warm and silky to the touch, and it’s clear why they’re such popular home décor accessories.
As mentioned, genuine sheepskin rugs are naturally off white, but they can be dyed in a variety colors. This means that you’ll always be able to find a color or shade of rug that gives your room the desired warmth, vibrancy and character.
Not only that, but sheepskin rugs are versatile and can be used as more than just an area rug. Many people place sheepskin rugs across sofas, and at the end of their bed. Another popular use for the rugs is to drape them over outdoor chairs. No matter how you utilize the rug, they always provide warmth and insulation.
Sheepskin Rugs Are Hypoallergenic
Sheepskin rugs contain very few substances that can trigger allergic reactions. This is because the natural oils in the fleece are very resistant to water, dust and dirt. In other words, sheepskin rugs are hypo-allergenic. This makes them perfect for families with allergies or conditions like asthma.
How To Clean A Sheepskin Rug At Home Without Damaging It – Step By Step Guide
Genuine sheepskin rugs are naturally long lasting and resilient to dirt and grime. However, they will need to be cleaned and washed from time to time. One of the great things about them is that they’re very easy to clean. You just need to make sure you use the right methods and you can clean and brighten a sheepskin rug with ease.
Always Read The Care Label On The Rug
When seeking to wash your sheepskin rug at home, the first thing you should do is read the care label attached the rug. The label will tell you the recommended ways to clean the rug. For example, it will say whether the rug can be washed in a washing machine, or if spot cleaning is the recommended method, and so on.
This may seem like a statement of the obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people don’t read the care label. As a result, many people wash their sheepskin rug using non recommended methods.
Detangle The Rug
Matted and trodden down wool fibers are breeding grounds for grime and bad bacteria. Therefore, you should detangle your rug regularly. Not only does detangling reduce the opportunity for dirt and grime to build up, but it makes cleaning and washing the rug so much easier overall.
Note that detangling should be done before you vacuum or brush your rug. It’s also essential to detangle your rug before washing the rug in a washing machine or by hand.
You can untangle the knots in your rug by using various types of brushes. But the most effective type of brush would be a metal toothed or metal hard wire brush. These brushes can also be described as a dog grooming brush or a wool carding brush.
Shake The Rug
Give your rug a good shake! Take your sheepskin rug outside and shake it repeatedly. By giving the rug some good firm shakes this should dislodge any small solid pieces of debris that were lodged deeper in the rug.
If you have a particularly large rug then it might be difficult to shake it properly by hand. In this case, you can hang it over a fence or railing and hit it with a rug beater or a broom stick. Don’t forget to work over both sides of the rug using the rug beater.
Vacuum Clean The Rug
Sheepskin rugs love to be vacuumed. Make the vacuum cleaning of your rug a regular part of your general household cleaning.
It’s perfectly safe and effective to vacuum sheepskin rugs in the same way that other rugs can be vacuumed. However, do keep the following points in mind when vacuuming your rug
- If your vacuum cleaner has a very powerful suction, then reduce the suction power to the region of mid to low.
- If you have spinning brushes on your vacuum, ensure they’re not spinning when cleaning the rug. Alternatively remove the brushes completely when vacuuming, if your vacuum allows for this.
- It may be helpful to use the hose or upholstery attachment to vacuum the rug. This can help to get a more deeper penetrating level of cleaning.
Be sure to follow the tips above. Otherwise, you may damage and break the wool when vacuuming.
Hand Wash The Rug
Handwashing is an effective way to clean a stained sheepskin rug, or if you just feel your rug needs a full wash. However, it’s recommended that you limit how often you fully submerge your sheepskin rug in water. This is because frequent water submersion can cause the leather underside to grow more and more stiff over time.
Before hand washing a sheepskin rug, ensure you’ve detangled the rug, then shaken it, then vacuumed it. You need to do this before wet washing the rug, otherwise you’ll get poor results from hand washing.
How To Hand Wash A Sheepskin Rug
- Fill a bath tub or large plastic tub with lukewarm water. Ensure the water is not hotter than 38°C/100°F.
- Add sheepskin washing detergent to the water.
It’s important that you use a detergent that does not contain any enzymes and is non-ionic. You should use a detergent that is lanolin infused and is specifically for sheepskin rugs, rather than just regular wool clothing. This will ensure that not only is it safe for the wool fibers, but that it’s also safe for the leather backing of the rug.
- Fully submerge the rug in the liquid and swish it around gently.
- Use a clean cloth or sponge to lightly scrub any areas of the rug that are particularly stained or dirty.
- Continue to swish the rug around and lightly scrub it for around 5 minutes.
- Once the rug is clean, you will need to rinse it. So drain the dirty water from the bath tub, then refill the tub with clean lukewarm water. Again, ensure the water is no hotter than 38°C/100°F.
- Swish the rug around in the clean water to give it a through but gentle rinse.
- Once the rug is fully rinsed, drain the water from the tub.
- There are different ways to dry your sheepskin rug after washing it. Jump to this section of the article to read instructions for the different drying methods.
Steam Clean The Rug
If you want to avoid fully immersing your rug in water, but believe it does need more advanced cleaning than vacuuming, then steam cleaning can do the trick. Steam cleaning your sheepskin rug is a great deep cleaning method, and it’s safe and practical.
Since using a steam cleaner does not require immersing your rug in water, it has the extra advantage of avoiding the risk of the leather underside becoming stiff when drying.
Before steam cleaning a sheepskin rug, be sure to detangle the rug, then shake out the rug, then vacuum it. You need to do this before steam cleaning to ensure all loose debris and solid particles are removed from the rug. If you don’t so this, you’ll get poor results from steam cleaning.
How To Steam Clean A Sheepskin Rug
- Allow the steam cleaner to heat up to the desired operating temperature.
- Steam clean the rug in the direction of the wool fleece growth. Never steam clean against the direction of the wool.
- Typically, you shouldn’t steam clean for more than 10 minutes. But the time can be increased a little if you have a particularly large sheepskin rug.
- Be mindful not to get the rug too saturated with water as you steam clean it.
Spot Wash The Rug
Another effective way to clean your sheepskin rug at home is spot cleaning or spot washing. This method is recommended if there are different dirty spots or stained areas on your rug, but doing a full wash would be over the top
Materials You Need
- Specialist sheepskin rug detergent. You should use a detergent that is lanolin infused and is made specifically for sheepskin rugs, rather than just regular wool clothing. This detergent will be the stain remover.
- Clean cloth or sponge. Ideally it should be white so you can see if all the substance has been removed.
- Tool to scrape any solid debris or dried particles. This could be a spoon or the blunt end of a butter knife. Depending on the size of the debris you could just use your hands to remove it.
How To Spot Clean A Stained Sheepskin Rug
- Firstly, use your hand or a scraper tool to break up and remove any solid particles or debris from the rug.
- Fill a plastic container with lukewarm water and pour in some sheepskin rug detergent. Stir it until you have a soapy mixture.
- Saturate a clean cloth in the shampoo liquid, wring it out so it is damp, instead of soaking wet.
- Use the damp cloth to wipe repeatedly yet gently over the stained area on the rug. Be sure to wipe in the direction of the wool growth.
- Continue to wipe the stain until it’s removed. While you may not be able to completely remove the stain, you’ll be able to greatly diminish its appearance.
Rinse The Shampoo Off
- Take a clean cloth or sponge and run it under clean water to dampen it.
- Use the sponge to wipe off the left behind shampoo residue from your sheepskin rug.
Get Rid Of Rug Odors With Baking Soda
It may be the case that your sheepskin area rug has an unpleasant smell you need to get rid of. In that case, baking soda will do the trick.
It’s perfectly safe to use baking soda on your rug, just follow the below simple instructions.
- Sprinkle your rug with dry baking soda.
- Using your hands, work the soda into the fibers of the rug. If you prefer, you can use a comb or a brush.
- For best results, leave the baking soda on the rug overnight. If that’s not possible, then be sure to leave it on the rug for at least two hours.
- Take the rug outside and shake it to remove the baking soda. You can also vacuum the rug to remove the baking soda.
- Finally, comb the rug to lift the fibers.
Dry Clean A Dyed Sheepskin Rug
If you have a genuine sheepskin rug that’s been dyed, then it’s not recommended to wet wash the rug. This means you shouldn’t hand wash the rug nor put it in a washing machine if you can avoid it. This is because you could ruin the color if you wet wash the rug.
Instead, take the rug to be dry cleaned. Most dry cleaning companies are very familiar with dry cleaning dyed sheepskin rugs.
How To Clean A Sheepskin Rug In A Washing Machine
Sheepskin rugs can be washed in a washing machine, and it’s a particularly good cleaning method for a small sheepskin rug. However, it’s best to limit just how often you do this. If your rug does need a full wash, then hand wash the rug first. This is more gentle than a washing machine, and is often just as effective.
What You Should Know Before You Wash A Sheepskin Rug In A Washing Machine
Putting a sheepskin rug in a washing machine does result in successful cleaning, but there are some important things you should know beforehand.
1. The Leather Underside Of The Sheepskin Rug Will Lose Some Of Its Softness
When you buy your sheepskin rug, you’ll notice that not only is the wool so plush and silky, but the leather backing will be wonderfully soft and supple as well. That’s due to the tanning process the rug has gone through.
However, the moment you immerse your area rug in water or put it in a washing machine, the leather will lose an amount of its softness.
There are things you can do to reduce just how much softness is lost. For example, make sure that when you wash your rug that you use detergent that’s made specifically for sheepskin rugs. Don’t use a detergent that’s made for regular wool clothing.
The more frequently you wash your rug, the more stiff the leather backing will gradually become over time. This is why it’s recommended that you limit how often you was a sheepskin rug.
2. You Must Detangle A Sheepskin Rug Before You Wash It
Failing to untangle a sheepskin before washing it will cause problems. If you don’t detangle and brush out the knots in the rug before using a washing machine, it will be close to impossible to brush out the knots after.
This is because the wool fleece will have transformed in a tightly matted felt material. And in case you’re not aware, felt cannot be brushed or detangled.
So do your rug and yourself a favor, be sure to thoroughly detangle and brush your rug before washing it.
3. Sheepskin Rugs That Are 12 Years Old Or More Are High Risk To Wash
As a sheepskin rug ages, the leather backing gradually starts to weaken and disintegrate. Therefore, if you wash a sheepskin rug in a washing machine, there’s a very high chance the leather backing will disintegrate drastically and completely perish.
It’s recommended that you spot wash a sheepskin wash that’s older than 12 years, rather than put it in a washing machine. Even hand washing a sheepskin rug of that age is big risk.
4. A White Sheepskin Rug Will Go Yellow Over Time And It Won’t Wash Out
Unless the wool has been dyed, sheepskin rugs are naturally white, or rather an off white ivory color. Over time, the white color will change from ivory white to a yellow color. This may take 15 to 20 years to happen, but it will happen.
The yellowing occurs as a result of the cellulose in the wool oxidizing. It’s a natural process that can’t be stopped. Not only that, but the yellow color can’t be washed out, nor can you bleach the wool back to a white color.
5. Sheepskin Rugs Should Be Left To Dry Slowly
After you’ve washed your rug, it can be tempting to use quick drying methods such as a tumble dryer on the rug. However, if you want to ensure the leather backing of the rug remains as soft as possible for as long as possible, then you should let the leather dry slowly in a natural way.
So instead of a tumble dryer, let the rug air dry for 7 o 10 days. After that period, it would be ok to put the rug in a tumble dryer, but make sure you put it on the lowest heat setting possible.
Step By Step Instructions On How To Wash A Sheepskin Rug In A Washing Machine
Now that you know what to expect when washing your real sheepskin rug at home, follow the instructions below.
1. Detangle The Rug Thoroughly Before Putting It In A Washing Machine
This point has already been mentioned above, but it cannot be emphasized enough. If you don’t brush out the knots in a sheepskin before washing it, the wool fibers will become matted and transform into felt. So don’t skip this step, be sure to detangle the rug first.
2. Get Rid Of As Much Debris And Solid Particles Before Using The Washing Machine
After detangling the rug you should take it outside and shake it out. This is to get rid of debris and particles. After that, you should vacuum it. This is to remove the finer solid particles that were not dislodged when shaking the rug.
You need to do this before washing the rug, otherwise you’ll get poor results from the washing machine.
3. Use Detergent Created Specifically For Sheepskin Rugs
General washing detergent is not suitable for sheepskin rugs. Many contain alkaline and enzymes and are not created for use on sheepskin rugs.
Instead, you should use a specialist sheepskin rug detergent, and not just detergent made for regular wool clothing. This type of special sheepskin detergent will be infused with lanolin and be non-ionic. This will ensure that not only is it safe for the wool fibers, but that it’s also safe for the leather backing of the rug
4. Use The Gentlest Washing Cycle Your Washing Machine Has
You should select the washing cycle that you would select for a very delicate pure wool garment. Typically, this would be a cool wash with a very slow spin.
Be sure that you don’t use more detergent than absolutely necessary, otherwise the rinse cycle won’t be able to properly rinse the rug.
Keep in mind that you must not use a hot water. This is make the leather backing stiff and brittle and shrink the size of your rug.
5. Drying The Rug After Washing It
There are different ways to dry your sheepskin rug after washing it. Jump to this section of the article to read instructions for the different drying methods.
How To Dry A Sheepskin Rug
There are different ways to dry a sheepskin. It’s important to note that sheepskins should be allowed to dry slowly, typically for 7 to 10 days. Read on to discover the different methods.
Squeeze Out Excess Water From The Rug
Whether you’ve washed your sheepskin rug by hand, or washing machine, there’ll still be excess water in the rug. In this case, hold up the rug over the bathtub or the sink, and gently squeeze out the excess water. It may make it easier for you if you squeeze it out one section at a time.
Do not contort the rug by twisting it and wringing it out as this is likely to deform the shape of the rug.
Blot The Rug With A Towel
After you’ve squeezed out the excess water, you should use a towel to soak up more water and moisture. Lay the rug down flat, and use a clean towel to blot the rug repeatedly. Allow the towel to soak up as much water as possible.
Dry The Rug Outdoors
If it’s warm day, then it’s a good idea to dry the rug outdoors. Place a towel on the ground, then place the rug on top of it. Finally, place a second towel over the top of the rug.
By doing this the rug gets to be in ideal conditions to dry – somewhere warm and airy. And placing a towel on top of the rug means the rug is not subject to direct sunlight. This is important as direct sunlight on a sheepskin can deform the shape of the rug or cause it to harden.
Dry The Rug Indoors
If it’s not possible to dry the rug outside, then you can dry it indoors by placing it on a drying rack.
Be sure to put it in a room that’s warm and that has good ventilation.
If you choose to hang the rug to dry, then make sure it’s hanging straight down from a railing or clothes line.
Important points to keep in mind:
- Ensure the rug is not exposed to direct sunlight, nor positioned directly next to a heat source like a fireplace or a fan heater.
- Never hang a sheepskin on a radiator to dry as this could damage the leather.
Tumble Dry The Rug
It’s generally safe to tumble dry a sheepskin rug, although you should always read the rug’s care label to confirm this. Ideally, you should only tumble dry a rug as a last resort if you’re not in a position to allow it to dry naturally.
Another instance when you can tumble dry is after the rug has already been left to dry for about 10 days, and you just want to dry the last few small damp areas.
If you’re going to tumble dry a sheep skin then you must put the dryer on the lowest possible heat setting. If you don’t this you will invariably damage the rug.
General Care And Maintenance For Your Sheepskin Rug
As mentioned, sheepskin rugs are pretty durable and can last 15 to 20 years. In order to prolong the life of your rug there is some basic rug care that you should practice.
Avoid Putting Sheepskin Rugs In High Traffic Areas
If your sheepskin area rug is in a high traffic area, like an entryway or a living room, it will inevitably be subject to accelerated wear and tear. Not only this, but it will become dirty often and quickly. To combat this, you should consider changing the location of the rug.
By changing the location of the rug within the home for a period of time, you’ll give the rug some rest. It doesn’t have to be a permanent move, even intermittently removing the sheepskin from a high traffic location will help to extend the rug’s useful life.
Wherever you put the rug temporarily, never use it to stop a bed from sliding on a wooden floor.
Clean The Rug At Regular Intervals
It may seem like an obvious point, but cleaning your sheepskin rug at regular intervals will help to retain its quality, beauty and usability. Simply vacuuming or shaking out your rug regularly means there’ll be no build up of grime or dirt that could shorten the lifespan of your rug.
Don’t Put A Sheepskin Rug In A Washing Machine On A Regular Basis
Although you can definitely clean a sheepskin rug in a washing machine, it’s recommended to limit how often you this. Regularly using a washing machine will result in the leather backing becoming stiffer and more brittle more quickly.
Keep The Rug Away From Direct Sunlight
Another simple but overlooked care tip is to avoid subjecting your rug to direct sunlight. This means of course that you shouldn’t place your rug outdoors, nor in a place indoors under a roof window. Direct sunlight on a sheepskin leather can cause it to harden over time. Not only that, the direct sunlight can cause a white sheepskin rug to become yellow in color at an accelerated rate.
Spot Clean A Stained Sheepskin Rug
If dealing with a few flecks of dirt or grime, then spot washing a rug is a better option that washing the entire rug.
Spot washing, is simply and relatively quick. A full step by step guide to spot washing a sheepskin rug can be found in the earlier part of this article.
Are Sheepskin Rugs Hard To Clean?
No, sheepskin rugs are not hard to clean. The structure of a sheepskin rug is unique and gives it natural durability and resistance to dirt. They only require light maintenance that only takes a few minutes to carry out. For example, vacuuming the rug, shaking the rug out, or detangling the rug. The same can be said for cowhide rugs, they are also simple to clean. You can find out more by reading our article about how to clean a cowhide rug.
If there are stains on the rug that you need to remove, then spot cleaning the rug will do the trick. This is an easy method that involves using sheepskin detergent which acts as a stain remover. And if you feel your rug requires a full wash, then hand washing a rug takes less than 45 minutes typically. In this article there are full step by step instructions on how to do each of these cleaning methods.
Can Sheepskin Be Washed?
Yes, sheepskin can be washed and it’s actually very easy to do. When wondering; how to clean a sheepskin rug, keep in mind that you should limit how often you fully immerse sheepskin in water in order to preserve the quality and beauty of it.
There are three main ways to wash a sheepskin using water, these are; spot washing, hand washing and using a washing machine. If there are a few dirty spots or stained areas on your sheepskin then you should try a spot wash first. This only requires moistening the specific spots on the sheepskin that are dirty, and doesn’t involve full water submersion.
If you feel the sheepskin requires a full wash, then try hand washing first. Although this does involve full water immersion, hand washing is a lot more gentle than a washing machine.
Finally, if you prefer not to hand wash, then you can clean a sheepskin in washing machine. This is most suitable for small sheepskin rugs. Be sure to only use sheepskin specific wash detergent. Further, you should select the washing cycle that you would select for a very delicate pure wool garment. Generally, this would be a cold wash with a very slow spin.
While washing a sheepskin at home will clean the wool fibers, the leather underside of the product will become hardened and more brittle at an accelerated rate.
How To Wash A Sheepskin Rug Without Water
If you want to wash your sheepskin but want to avoid using water then there are two ways to do this. Firstly, you could take your sheepskin to a dry cleaner, this will of course avoid using water altogether.
Alternatively, you could steam clean your sheepskin. Steam cleaning your sheepskin is a great deep cleaning method, it avoids water immersion, and it’s safe and practical.
How Do You Clean A Sheepskin Rug At Home?
One of the great things about sheepskin rugs is that they’re very easy to clean at home. There are various ways to clean a rug, these include; shaking the rug out, vacuuming it, steam cleaning the rug, spot cleaning the rug, using a washing machine, and many other home based methods. All methods are quick and very easy to do.
If your rug only has dust and loose dirt on it, then simply giving the rug a good firm shake outside should be the first step. After that, you should vacuum the rug to get a deeper clean.
It may be the case that your rug requires more advanced cleaning than vacuuming, in that case there are other easy cleaning methods to use at home. These include; steam cleaning the sheepskin, hand washing it, or cleaning it in a washing machine. All these sheepskin cleaning methods can be done at home and will clean and brighten a sheepskin rug.
What Is The Best Way To Wash A Sheepskin Rug?
The best way to wash a sheepskin rug depends on how dirty the rug is. If there are just a few dirty spots or stained areas on your sheepskin, then the best way to wash it would be to do a spot wash. This only requires targeting the specific spots on the sheepskin that are stained, and doesn’t involve immersing the rug in water.
If you feel the sheepskin requires a full wash, then the best way to wash it would be to hand wash the rug in a bathtub or plastic tub. Although hand washing a sheepskin does involve full water immersion, it’s a lot more gentle than a washing machine and in most cases is just as effective.
You may believe your sheepskin needs a more vigorous wash than hand washing. In that case, the best way to wash it would be to use a washing machine. If you do this, be sure to only use sheepskin specific wash detergent. Further, you should select the washing cycle that you would select for a very delicate pure wool garment. Generally, this would be a cold wash with a very slow spin.
How To Clean A Faux Sheepskin Rug?
There are different ways to clean a faux sheepskin rug at home without damaging it. These include vacuuming the rug, steam cleaning, hand washing, spot cleaning, and using a washing machine, among other methods.
If your faux sheepskin only has loose dirt on it, then simply take the rug outside and give it several firm shakes. After that, you should vacuum the rug to remove the finer dirt and debris lodged deeper in the fibers.
If your faux sheepskin requires a full wash, then you can hand wash it or put it in a washing machine. Be sure to use a gentle detergent created for upholstery fibers. If using a washing machine, select a wash cycle that uses cool water and has a slow spin.
Why Is My Sheepskin Rug Yellow?
Over time, the white color of a sheepskin rug will change to a yellow color. This may take 15 or more years to happen, but it will happen.
The yellow coloring occurs as a result of the cellulose in the wool oxidizing. This is a natural process that can’t be stopped, unfortunately. Not only that, but the yellow color can’t be washed out, nor can you bleach the wool back to a white color.
If the yellowing of your sheepskin spoils your enjoyment of the rug, then the only option is to buy a new white sheepskin rug.
Final Thoughts On How To Clean A Sheepskin Rug At Home Without Damaging It
After reading this article you should know how to clean a sheepskin rug at home without damaging it. There are lots of different ways to keep your sheepskin rug in tiptop condition. This article has explained step by step how that can be achieved. Sheepskin rugs are not hard to clean and the cleaning methods can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Sheepskin rugs lovely decorative items that add charm and warmth to any room. If you engage in regular maintenance of your sheepskin rug, it can remain in good condition for many years.