So, you bought your first sheepskin rug! Congratulations! You have probably read about the endless benefits of sheepskin, from its temperature regulating and natural moisturizing properties to its hypoallergenic nature, but how do you clean this thing? Proper sheepskin care is critical to the longevity of your sheepskin. Sheepskins are incredibly durable and can last you years, but only if you care for them properly. Cleaning a sheepskin rug is not a time-consuming or difficult process, though! It just requires the right tools and, once in a while, some help from a professional.
Proper care of a sheepskin differs depending on whether the rug you have is dyed. Some sheepskin products are machine washable, while others need to be only spot cleaned and very occasionally professionally cleaned. Ivory sheepskins are sheepskins in their natural state and are undyed. This makes them more flexible in how you can wash them! They are machine washable, spot cleanable, and hand washable. Medical sheepskins are also machine washable, with the Hi-temp version being able to be washed in temperatures of 80 degrees Celsius! Any sheepskin that is a color other than Ivory has been dyed, and the dye is not colorfast, so while they can be sparingly spot cleaned, professional cleaning is always recommended.
Determine what kind of sheepskin you have and gather together the necessary tools. You will need the right detergent, a wire wool brush (or substitute a flat paddle pet brush with wire bristles), a spray bottle, and a clean cloth. The right kind of detergent is a detergent free of bleach and enzymes. Practically all detergents you see in the supermarket contain enzymes, even if they do not contain bleach. Including the kind that claims to be all-natural! You will want to do some research on detergents before you use them on your sheepskin rug or use the Eucalan Wool Wash available on our website! We 100% recommend this brand as they are tried and tested, and it not just cleans your sheepskin rug but also restores some of the natural lanolin found in sheep wool. It contains no bleach or enzymes, is environmentally friendly, and will effectively clean your sheepskin without any harmful chemicals. People with sensitive skin will love Eucalan wash. For more information on Eucalan Wool Wash, you can visit our FAQ page on it.
What you will need to clean your sheepskin:
- Bleach and enzyme-free detergent
- Wire wool brush
- Basin or washing machine
- Spray bottle
- Clean cloths
- A line to hang
Before you wash
Proper care of your ivory sheepskin starts with routine maintenance. Remember that sheepskin is a natural product that contains natural oils and direct sunlight will cause the sheepskin to dry out and the leather will shrink. The sheepskin fur will also dry out causing it to become coarse and brittle. Similarly, cleaning products, perfumes, mothproofing, etc. also contain alcohol that will be absorbed by the sheepskin and cause it to dry out.
Sheepskin rugs should not need frequent cleaning as they are naturally self-cleaning. Simply brushing your sheepskin with a flat wire brush and shaking out any debris should be sufficient for the most part. You can also air out your sheepskin, always making sure your sheepskin is not in direct sunlight, to freshen it up and help smells dissipate. With regular brushing and shaking your sheepskin will feel clean for longer.
Spot cleaning a sheepskin rug
Sometimes accidents happen! Say someone spills a bit on the rug, you definitely don’t want that to stain but it also doesn’t warrant a full washing. No fear, this is just the job for spot cleaning!
To spot clean you will need
- To blot the spill with a clean cloth.
- To grab your spray bottle and mix half a capful (about two teaspoons) of detergent with lukewarm water.
- Thoroughly spray the soiled spot on your rug and then work gently with your fingers.
- Rinse the area thoroughly with lukewarm water and gently pat the area dry with your clean cloth.
- Follow this by giving the sheepskin a brush.
- Let the rug air dry in an area that receives no direct sunlight.
Washing your sheepskin rug:
Say your sheepskin rug or throw has seen a bit more action and even with regular brushing and shaking you can tell it is time for a full wash. You have two options: hand washing or machine washing. This is really up to you, your washing machine, how much time you have, and how big your ivory sheepskin rug is.
Machine washing a sheepskin rug
For machine washing a sheepskin rug:
- When washing, use a maximum temperature of 100℉ / 38℃
- Be sure you are on a gentle cycle
- Use 15-30mL/1-2Tbsp of Eucalan Wool Wash or similar product per load
- Lay the rug out or hang to dry. Make sure not to dry the rug in direct heat or sunlight
- Brush rug once while damp and once while dry
- Shake rug to fluff sheepskin
Sheepskin rugs that are larger than 4 pelts will likely not fit into your washing machine but anything under should wash in a washing machine fine. Do not be tempted to dry in a dryer! This will 100% ruin your rug! The leather will shrink and the fur will lose its natural softness and luster. Give the rug a brush when damp and then again when dry to ensure there are no knots and to restore fullness to the fur.
Hand washing a sheepskin rug
If you have a larger rug or just prefer hand washing you will need to fill a tub or large basin with lukewarm water and make sure the basin is large enough for the whole sheepskin to be submerged.
For hand washing a sheepskin rug:
- Use 5mL/1 tsp of Eucalan Wool Wash per 4L/1G of water
- Add water with a maximum temperature of 100°F / 38°C
- Soak your sheepskin for at least thirty minutes and then begin to gently squeeze the sheepskin, working the detergent and water through all the fibers.
- Once you feel you have sufficiently massaged the soap and water through the sheepskin drain the water
- Run your sheepskin under lukewarm water, gently squeezing to remove any remaining detergent
- Gently squeeze any excess water from the sheepskin
- Brushing while damp and hangout dry
- Brush again when dry and give a good shake
Don’t forget! Hang to dry somewhere outside of direct sunlight!
Cleaning a sheepskin rug that is very dirty
Sometimes your sheepskin may experience heavy soiling or perhaps you don’t have a basin deep enough for your 8-pelt octo sheepskin rug. This is the time to have your sheepskin professionally cleaned. You will want to do some research and make sure your sheepskin is being cleaned by a dry cleaner, furrier, or rug cleaner who is familiar with sheepskin and knows how to properly clean the rug. Simply calling ahead to a few places will ensure your sheepskin is in the right hands.
Questions to ask potential sheepskin cleaners
- Are you familiar with sheepskin and have you cleaned it before?
- What type of detergent or cleaning product will you be using on my sheepskin?
- How will you be drying my sheepskin?
- What steps are taken to ensure no color is lost in the cleaning process?
Cleaning a sheepskin that is dyed
Dyed sheepskin rugs and throws should receive regular brushing and shaking, just like the ivory sheepskins. This will loosen dirt and keep your rug fresh and soft. If you do happen to get a spill on your dyed sheepskin rug you can sparingly spot clean using your bleach and enzyme-free detergent (I recommend the Eucalan Wool Wash for dyed sheepskins as well) and the same steps I have outlined above for the ivory If significant soiling occurs and you need to wash your dyed sheepskin they will need to go to a professional to help ensure as little color is lost in the cleaning process as possible. A good fur cleaner will also be able to recondition your sheepskin and add lanolin back into it, extending the health of your sheepskin without losing significant dye in the process.
Caring for your sheepskin is not hard as long as you follow these steps! Regular brushing and shaking are key to keeping your sheepskin fresh, soft, and clean. Small stains can be spot-cleaned. This is your first line of defense and washing your rug should always be saved for when it really needs it. If your sheepskin does need a full wash make sure to follow the proper steps and use the right tools so that you can enjoy your sheepskin for years to come!