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How to Clean a Sheepskin Rug

How to Clean a Sheepskin Rug

Natural sheepskin rugs are from skins of sheep with wool fibers fixed to the skin in the tanning process. Large rugs have several sheepskin pieces joined together. These rugs are best as the wool fibers are soft and resilient; they retain natural oil that resists dirt and odors. Walking on the sheepskins rugs, sitting on them, and even allowing pets to use them as a bed can flatten the fibers and become dull.

 If you aren’t sure how to brush and clean your sheepskin rug, our rug care guide will show you. There are various methods that you can use to clean your sheepskin rug. These methods help remove dirt, dust, and stains from your sheepskin. They include hand washing,  machine washing, dry cleaning, steaming, and spot cleaning.

What You Require

  • Vacuum with attachment or handled vacuum
  • Sheepskin detergent 
  • Water
  • Spoon/ spatula
  • Sheepskin brush
  • Sponge
  • A tub or a large sink
  • Soft cleaning cloths
  • Drying rack or clothesline
  • Cornstarch
  • Paper towels

General Cleaning Method

  • Take your rug in the open and shake it to remove debris and loosen the embedded dirt.
  • Vacuum the mat with an attachment or a handheld vacuum.
  • Use a spoon to mix a squirt of sheepskin detergent in a cup of water.
  • Immerse the sponge in the soapy mixture and wring out
  • Using the sponge, pat heavily soiled or dirty areas.
  • Use a brush to brush through the entire rug and remove any tangles.
  • Hang the rug on a clothesline away from direct sunlight or in a warm area to dry. It’s best to avoid direct sunlight or direct heat, which can make the rug shrink.
  • You can still allow the sheepskin to air dry.

Hand Washing 

You can consider hand washing if your rug is too big to fit in the washer. Large rugs can damage the machine or even fail to get clean in a delicate cycle.

  • Fill your container with warm water and sheepskin detergent.
  • Soak the rug in the tub.
  • Gently shake the rug, use a gentle touch to swish the rug for around 5 minutes. You can still scrub and soled spots with a clean, soft rag.
  • Empty the dirty water in the container.
  • Refill the tub with warm water to rinse the rug and remove any remaining dirt and soap. If the mat is still dirty, add some detergent but less than the first round to make rinsing easier.
  • Move the rug around in the clean water for a final rinse. You rub the rug with your hand to remove any dirt or soap.
  • Roll the rug up to drain excess water.
  • Stretch the rug out and hang it or lay it flat to dry.

Spot Cleaning Stains

As soon as the spills happen, blot away any liquids with paper towels and pick any solids with a spoon or spatula.

  • In case of oil stains, sprinkle the area with cornstarch to absorb the oil. Allow the cornstarch to settle on the spot for some hours, then brush it off or vacuum.
  •  For food or mud stains, mix a solution of sheepskin detergent with warm water. Using the soft cloths, dip in the soap mixture, wring excess water, and blot stained the area.
  •  Ensure to avoid wetting the rug. When you remove the stain, use another cloth and dip it in plain clean water and blot the spot to remove any soapy residue.  Allow the rug to air dry and comb to lift fibers.

What Can I Use to Clean My Sheepskin Rug?

The items you need to clean your rug depend mainly on the method you are going to use. But the obvious ones should be sheepskin detergent and sheepskin brush. These two are specific for your sheepskin rug to avoid any damage to the wool. In case you use other laundry detergents, they can have harsh chemicals that will damage the wool fiber. Stiff bristle brushes, too, can destroy the wool and make the rug start tearing.  Other items you need are soft cloths, tub or sink, paper towels, and more, depending on the cleaning method.

Can You Machine Wash a Sheepskin Rug?

When your rug is heavily soiled, it requires thorough cleaning either by hand wash or washing machine. But before using a machine, it’s best to check your rug’s label cleaning instructions to avoid any damage.  You can do machine wash for your rug if the label gives the guidelines. If you don’t find the label, opt for handwashing for the rug’s safety. The machine-washing process is as follows;

  • Brush the rug with a sheepskin brush to remove any attached particles.
  • Roll the rug around the washer to ensure even weight distribution
  • Set the machine to the lowest setting and, if possible, use a delicate wool cycle.
  •  Add sheepskin detergent and avoid using regular laundry detergent as it will ruin your rug. Again, use warm or cold water but not hot. Ensure you set a cool wash on a gentle wool cycle, as hot water will affect your rug’s size and texture.
  •  Once you finish washing, set to a spin cycle and stretch out the rug to dry or hang it outside under a shade.

Can You Steam Clean a Sheepskin Rug?

Steaming is an alternative method to washing, and it’s much gentle on the sheepskin and gives you similar results to washing. If you have one of the quality steam cleaners, it can drive out a lot of dust and dirt by just steaming. Do the steaming in the direction of the wool growth, and you will notice a de-knotting effect.

Sheepskin Rug Gone Hard after Washing? Causes & Fixes

Several things can make your sheepskin hard, like the method and items you use to wash it and how you dry it.  Again, other causes can be the age of your sheepskin and the tanning process used. The tanning process can make some sheepskin come out feeling soft after wash or hard.

How to Fix the Sheepskin Hardness after Wash

  • Use a specialist sheepskin/ wool detergent, should be non-bio and have neutral pH to prevent damage to the rug. To confirm its quality, you can consider testing the detergent on a small discreet area first.
  • Dry the rug under shade. Spread it flat on the floor away from direct sunlight.
  • Beat the back of the rug with a wooden stick when it dries. Peg, it on the clotheslines and beat the leather side; the process helps the rag achieve a supper leather feel.

 How Do You Restore a Matted Sheepskin Rug?

You restore a matted rug through the following;

  • Brushing- brushing the rug with a metal comb or slicker-type to remove the knots
  • Shaking helps get rid of dust and particles and restores the pile to make it fluffy.
  • Spot cleaning- remove any stains stuck on the mat, thus entangling the fibers.
  • Washing it if spot cleaning won’t work efficiently. Make sure you use the wool-type detergent and warm water, not hot.

How Do I Make My Sheepskin Fluffy Again?

The most important way to keeping your sheepskin fluffy is through regular vacuuming. The vacuum prevents your sheepskin from flattening down.  Additionally,  giving your rug a regular shake outside is key to keeping it fluffy.  Again, it’s best to brush it often to remove any tangles and smooth the fibers with a teaspoon of hair conditioner with two warm water cups. Fill a bottle with the shampoo water and spray the fur in a small area. Later use a soft-bristle brush to untangle the wool gently.

Other ways to keep your fluffy sheepskin include;

  • Shake it to repel any dirt
  • Avoid any spills and stains
  • Avoid direct sunlight

How Do You Whiten a Yellowed Sheepskin Rug?

If your rug becomes yellow due to age or sunlight exposure, consider consulting professional cleaners. Take your rug for professional cleaning to whiten it by removing some of the stains. However, the process doesn’t fully reverse the coloration, so it’s best to prevent yellowing.

Ensure you keep your rug in an airy, well-ventilated room. The room should not expose the rug to direct sunlight through any opening. Also, keep the room away from humid areas, and when not in use, store in a dark, well-ventilated cupboard.


Sheepskin requires a delicate touch and proper maintenance. You may be doing more harm to wash using inappropriate detergent and methods rather than just spot cleaning. If possible, avoid regular wash, shake off the dirt or vacuum, brush it, and do spot cleaning. This practice will help in keeping the rug fluffier, preventing yellowing, and increasing its shelf-life.