Handle With Care; How To Clean Your Sheepskin Rug Without Destroying It

Posted on: 4 December 2015

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If you have a sheepskin rug, you come to appreciate its beauty and how it feels on your feet when you walk on it. However, since they tend to be fragile, you have to treat them with care. The smallest stain can cause them to fade, but it is possible to make them look new again, and not ruin their beauty. Here are some tips for cleaning sheepskin rugs.

Gather Tools and Pre-clean

For this project, you need:

  • wire sheep skin brush or vacuum
  • sheep skin conditioner
  • sheepskin shampoo
  • sponge, cornstarch
  • baking powder
  • essential oil (lemongrass, pine, eucalyptus)
  • quart bottle 

Give the rug a gentle shake to remove stuck dirt, then run a vacuum with a brush attachment over it. Alternatively, hang it on a clothesline, and shake it as you brush it with a wire sheepskin brush. Repeat on the back of the rug.

Wash the Rug

Use shampoo formulated for sheepskin, or make your own detergent. Products with bleach, peroxide, or enzymes, could damage the rug. If your washing machine is big enough, soak the rug ten minutes in the shampoo, to make stains rise to the surface. For tough stains, let the rug soak longer.

To make your own shampoo, mix a tablespoon of lemongrass, pine, or eucalyptus essential oil and a tablespoon of baking soda, and ½ quart of water in a quart bottle. Lightly coat, but don't saturate, a sponge in the mixture, squeeze, and brush the rug gently.

Apply a thin layer of cornstarch over greasy areas, let it set for about an hour, then brush it out with a moist sponge. Wash the rug on medium-low cycle or wool cycle, ensuring the temperature stays below 100 degrees.

To hand wash, set the rug in the tub, and run lukewarm water over it until it is soaked completely. Churn the rug to circulate the soap in the fibers, let set five to ten minutes, then drain the dirty water from the tub. Fill the tub with warm water again, let the rug set several minutes, drain, and gently squeeze the water out.

Condition and Dry

Apply a sheep skin conditioner on the last rinse cycle to soften fibers, or before you rinse after hand washing. Hang the rug on a cool, windy day, or tumble dry on a cool or warm setting. 

Otherwise, hang it indoors or lay it on a flat surface, and run a floor fan to dry. Move the rug, and brush it occasionally as it dries to keep the rug pliable. Protect your rug from staining by adding a stain guard.

Your sheepskin rug will last longer with proper cleaning. If these methods don't work or you prefer not to try cleaning yourself, hire a carpet cleaning professional.