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How to Clean a Sheepskin Rug — and Make it Fluffy Again | Rugs Direct

How to clean a sheepskin rug — and make it fluffy again

Hard-wearing yet cosy, sheepskin rugs are a popular choice when decorating your home. They can make an attractive addition to almost any style of interior design, from luxurious and sophisticated to rustic and charming. They’re also excellent value for money, as they can last a very long time with the right maintenance. So, it’s understandable you’d want to know how to take care of yours properly.

If your sheepskin rug gets dirty, you could take it to a specialist dry cleaner who knows the right chemicals to use to freshen up your rug without damaging it. However, it’s quite easy to care for your sheepskin rug yourself if you know what to stay clear of. In this guide, we'll show you how to clean a sheepskin rug and take you through the following expert tips:

  • Can you wash a sheepskin rug?
  • How to spot clean a sheepskin rug
  • How to wash a sheepskin rug by hand
  • Can I wash my sheepskin rug in the washing machine?
  • How to dry a sheepskin rug
  • How to make a sheepskin rug fluffy again
  • Can you wash a fake sheepskin rug?

Can you wash a sheepskin rug?

If you’re wondering whether you can wash a sheepskin rug yourself, the answer is yes — but you'll need to do so with care! There are a few factors you need to consider first.

There are three main elements to your rug that make cleaning difficult. First is the wool, made up of fluffy fibres that are strong and resilient to household wear and tear, yet delicate in their own way. Heat, water, and agitation from the wrong cleaning tools and chemicals can cause the fibres to shrink or break, ruining the softness and appearance of your rug.

The second is the natural oils present in the makeup of your sheepskin rug. Lanolin wax is produced by the sheep to protect their keep their coats clean and free of bacteria. Stripping this conditioning coating with chemicals or hot water can affect the softness, fluffiness, and shine of your sheepskin, making it look old and worn.

Finally, the flexible hide 'backing' (skin) of your sheepskin rug can go stiff and hard after washing if it’s not allowed to dry slowly and without heat. This can affect the overall shape and texture of your beautiful sheepskin, and it is a common complaint among people who have washed their rugs without doing their research first.

How to spot clean a sheepskin rug

Washing your sheepskin rug isn’t always necessary. If a mark appears, you can easily spot treat it instead with a mild detergent and a damp cloth, wiping the stain until it lifts, and then rinsing the detergent off with cold water. If you need a deeper clean for spills or heavy dirt, a sprinkle of bicarbonate of soda sprayed with water can foam up and penetrate the thick wool. Wait for it to dry, and then brush the powder out with a carding brush. This method can also work for removing smells that can’t be aired out on the washing line.

If your rug feels gritty, you could try vacuuming it to get rid of the dirt, debris and crumbs it may have collected over time. Don’t use a brush head attachment to your hoover as they may tangle and tear the wool: a plain hose or crevice tool would be better suited for this task.

How to wash a sheepskin rug by hand

If you want to breathe new life into your sheepskin rug, the best way to it freshen it up is to hand-wash it in cool water. Rough machine washing, harsh cleaning chemicals, and hot water can all potentially damage the wool, lanolin and hide backing of your rug, making it stiff and dulling its lustre, whereas hand-washing in cool water is much less harsh.

Follow the hand-washing instructions on your chosen detergent and be sure to rinse your rug thoroughly afterwards until the water runs clear. Note that your rug will look unusual and clumpy when wet, but once it’s left to dry and has been brushed it should return to its soft and fluffy state.

Can I wash my sheepskin rug in the washing machine?

At Rugs Direct, we would always recommend hand washing as the most recommended method of cleaning, as it is less harsh on the natural oils, fibres and hide that make up your sheepskin rug. But if you’d prefer to wash your sheepskin rug in the washing machine, you can. Just make sure to set the machine to a cool wash, generally less than 30°C, and choose a gentler cycle such as wools or delicates. Some machines also have a "hand wash" setting that might be better to use.

As with washing by hand, refrain from using detergents in your machine that aren’t specifically designed for sheepskin, as they may affect the condition of your rug, or even damage it.

How to dry a sheepskin rug

Now you know how to clean a sheepskin rug, it's important to learn how to dry it properly. Whether you decide to hand- or machine-wash your rug, drying it is the most time-consuming part of the process due to the density of the fibres. Don’t be tempted to speed up the process with heat, as tumble dryers and heated towel racks can make the hide turn stiff and cause the wool to shrink or snap.

Instead, hang your rug up to dry or lay it flat with the hide facing upwards, then wait at least a week for it to dry fully. Try to keep your rug out of bright, direct sunlight if possible, as this may bleach it and cause the colour to fade.

How to make a sheepskin rug fluffy again

A common complaint about sheepskin rugs is that, over time, they can end up looking matted, dull, or dusty. Fortunately, a carding brush can separate the fibres and make your rug soft and new again. If you want to breathe new life into your rug, you can simply take it outside and beat it to dislodge any trapped particles, then brush it thoroughly until you’re happy with how fluffy it looks and feels. Don’t be alarmed if you lose a few fibres as you brush; this is normal and won’t be noticeable once the wool is fluffed up.

It’s a good idea to brush your sheepskin rugs regularly to keep them in good condition and looking great. If you don’t have a carding brush handy, a dog grooming brush will do in a pinch.

Can you wash a fake sheepskin rug?

Rugs made from faux sheepskin are composed of synthetic materials, and they’re a good option to consider if you want to avoid animal products, have allergies, or are looking for a cheaper alternative. They can look and feel very similar to natural animal hide, but as they are made from different materials, you may be wondering if you can wash a fake sheepskin rug the same way as genuine sheepskin.

Although fake sheepskin rugs don’t contain natural components, they are still delicate and can shrink, stiffen, or be otherwise ruined by improper washing methods. Exercise the same caution washing your faux sheepskin rugs as you would real wool and leather, using specially formulated detergents in cool water, and brush them regularly to keep them soft and fluffy.

The tips in this guide can help you wash your sheepskin rugs without damaging them, keeping them in great condition. That means you can enjoy your stylish sheepskins for longer, and they can continue bringing a touch of cosiness and class to your home.

Now that you know all about how to clean a sheepskin rug, you can find your perfect sheepskin rug for sale here at Rugs Direct. We stock an impressive selection of luxurious rugs in all shapes, colours and styles to suit any home. From shaggy rugs to wool rugs, you’re sure to find something to complement your sheepskin and add that perfect finishing touch to your interior design. We also strive to suit all budgets, and we even offer a price promise in case you find the same rug sold elsewhere online for less. Plus, we offer free standard UK delivery on all orders, so you can have your dream rug delivered in no time.

Want to know more rug cleaning hacks? We’ve got you covered. Our help and advice centre is full of handy guides for choosing your perfect rug, as well as plenty of inspiration for how to style rugs in your home. If you need further assistance or have questions about our rugs, don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0330 113 4909 or at customerservice@rugsdirect.co.uk.