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How To Clean a Sheepskin Rug: Care Tips for Longevity

How to clean a sheepskin rug

A natural sheepskin rug adds a touch of elegance and comfort to any room. I’ll bet when you bought your sheepskin rug, you weren’t thinking about how you would clean it one day. I wasn’t either! I’ll show you how to clean a sheepskin rug so that you don’t damage the wool fibers. Sheepskin rugs can last for a long time as long as you learn to properly care for them. 

Tools and Materials Needed

To get your sheepskin rug clean, you can use a variety of tools and materials you have around the house. 

  • Vacuum 
  • Soft-bristled brush 
  • Wool wash
  • Baking soda
  • Cleaning cloth 
  • Large drying towel
  • Bathtub or large utility sink 
  • Washing machine 
  • Large drying rack (not in the direct sunlight) 

Step-By-Step Guide To Cleaning a Sheepskin Rug 

I recommend reading through this process of how to clean a sheepskin rug from top to bottom before you begin. Sheepskin rugs have a beautiful soft texture to them, but if you do something to damage the wool fibers during cleaning, you will lose some of this feeling. 

Preparing the Rug for Cleaning

Whenever possible, we are going to try and avoid having to submerge the entire rug in water. Sometimes that is unavoidable, but there are ways to do spot cleaning and freshen up your sheepskin rug that will make this process considerably easier. 

Before you begin, check the label on your rug. See what the recommendations are for a machine wash, stain removal, and overall cleaning guidelines. Take a good look at your sheepskin rug and determine the type of dirt or stain you are dealing with. 

Do Dry Cleaners Clean Sheepskin?

If your rug is particularly dirty or damaged, most dry cleaners will clean sheepskin rugs, and they have methods and techniques to ensure that you get a soft and comfortable rug back in return. 

Detailed Instructions for Cleaning Light Dirt and Stains

If you take a look at your sheepskin rug and notice a few areas of light discoloration or some general dirt that looks like it will come off quite easily, this is the process to follow. 

How Do You Clean a Sheepskin Rug Without Washing It?

Cleaning a sheepskin rug without washing it includes using dry cleaning products, spot-treating areas that need it, vacuuming, fluffing, and then allowing for air drying. 

1. Shake the rug outside

Not only do you start your cleaning process with this step, but remember that shaking out sheepskin rugs from time to time is a great way to keep them looking new. You will remove excess dirt without having to damage the wool fibers.

2. Vacuum the rug 

Now that you have the rug free of any large particles or debris, it’s time to vacuum. Use a vacuum attachment whenever possible. I use the upholstery attachment but ensure yours does not have a spinning mechanism inside. 

The spinning is used to pull up pet hairs or trapped debris, but it can pull the sheepskin right out of the rug. 

3. Spot treat with baking soda 

If you are just looking to clean and deodorize the rug, sprinkle baking soda directly on it. Let the baking soda sit for at least one hour. 

If you have a stain that must be treated, you can start by putting a little wool wash and warm water in a small bowl. Grab a cleaning cloth or even paper towels and dip it in your cleaning solution and then gently rub the stained area. 

Avoid using too much wool shampoo and water, as you don’t want to soak the rug. 

4. Dry the area

Take a clean towel with great absorption qualities (terry towels work well) and lay it on the sheepskin rug. Push the towel down and let it soak up any excess water and wool soap that could be remaining. 

5. Air dry and vacuum

Once you have let the sheepskin rug dry completely, you can then vacuum it again to remove any additional dirt or debris. It’s also a good idea to use a soft wire brush (like a dog brush) or a soft-bristled brush and retire the sheepskin fibers back to the way they were. 

Detailed Instructions for Cleaning Heavy Dirt and Stains 

If you live in a house with dogs and cats and kids, your sheepskin rugs probably need a little extra care. If you need to do a deep clean, this is the process you will want to follow. Reminder, check your label before starting any of this.

1. Shake out and vacuum 

I always start out with shaking my sheepskin rug outside and then doing a light vacuum. My process for deep cleaning your rug involves the bathtub and a specialist wool shampoo. When I submerge the rug to clean it, the last thing I want is dirt, sand, and debris floating around in the water. 

2. Check the backing and set the tub 

Reading the label of your sheepskin rug is not just about the sheepskin material but also the backing. Leather backing could become permanently damaged if submerged in water. 

Fill a bathtub with warm water and a wool cleaner or shampoo. Read the wool cleaning agent instructions to know exactly how much to use. 

3. Submerge the rug and clean it 

You can follow this process for a faux sheepskin rug, but most faux rugs can go in the washing machine and are capable of a tumble dry without being damaged. 

In this situation, we are going to submerge the rug and work on cleaning the individual areas that need the most help. I do this with my hands; the wool wash does a good job of breaking down stains.

Never scrub too hard or with anything abrasive that could damage the sheepskin. 

4. Rinse soap 

Once you are finished washing your entire rug, it needs to be rinsed. I drain the tub where I just washed the rug and then fill it again with cold water and run my fingers through the rug, ensuring all the cleaner is out. 

If your bathtub has a shower attachment, you can use that. I find that this hand washing process is really the only way I trust myself to remove stains and also to clean a white sheepskin rug. 

5. Towel and air dry

As you remove the sheepskin rug from the tub, you can give it a good shake to remove excess water but do not wring it. You can give it a gentle squeeze but nothing too strong. Again, you will damage the wool pile and make it harder to return the rug to its original condition if you are too rough on these sheepskin products. 

Place a clean towel on top of the rug and blot it until the majority of the water comes off. 

Do this until you are dealing with just a damp rug that you can place on a drying rack. Do not place the sheepskin in direct sunlight, as it will damage or even stain the rug fibers. 

Drying and Fluffling or Brushing the Rug 

Whether you are dealing with removing a basic stain or you need to remove dirt that has built up for a while, you will want to dry, fluff, and brush the whole rug when finished. For this process, you will want to: 

  • Use large, heavy-duty terry cloth towels to blot dry the rug
  • Remember that air drying can take several hours, so ensure that the rug has room to breathe from the bottom; a drying rack is necessary when you set out to wash a sheepskin rug
  • Use a brush, like a dog grooming brush, to gently brush the wool fibers back into place. Ensure that the dog comb is only used on dry sheepskin

Why Is My Sheepskin Rug So Hard After Washing?

The sheepskin rug will be hard after washing if you don’t follow the proper drying and fluffing procedures. Don’t force the sheepskin rug to dry quickly by using heat or placing it outside; instead, let it sit out and air dry. 

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Cleaning Sheepskin Rugs

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you go through this process. The one mistake I have made is to use cleaning products that are too harsh to clean a sheepskin rug. I was lucky that damage was not caused, but I know it will impact the longevity of my sheepskin rug. 

Wrong Cleaning Products or Materials

Make sure that all cleaning products are designed to work with wool. Check cleaning labels and cleaning instructions if you have any doubts. 

Incorrect Drying Methods

Don’t force your sheepskin rug to dry by using a dryer or the sunlight. Use a drying rack and give it time. 

Using Hot Water

Lukewarm water is all you need, even to fight stubborn stains on your sheepskin rug. 

Machine Washing 

If your rug says it can be machine washed, make sure you follow the instructions carefully. Chances are it will need a delicate cycle and a special wool wash in order to avoid damage. 

Tips To Clean a Natural Sheepskin Rug 

To keep your sheepskin rug in great shape, follow these tips and reminders: 

  • Shake your rug out at least once per week to remove loose dust and dirt
  • Keep the rug out of an area where oily stains or food particles can damage it
  • When you notice dirt, spot treat with a damp cloth immediately and then follow additional stain removal and cleaning procedures
  • Put baking soda on the rug at least once a month, let it sit for an hour, and vacuum it up

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Should I Do if My Rug Has a Strong Odor After Cleaning?

If your rug has a strong odor after cleaning, it may not have dried fully. You can start the wash process again and let it dry properly, or you can sprinkle baking soda on the rug, let it sit, and then vacuum the baking soda out of the rug. 

Can I Use a Hairdryer To Dry My Sheepskin Rug?

Do not use a hair dryer to dry your sheepskin rug; instead, allow the rug to air dry (not in the sun) for as long as it needs and then fluff and brush the rug. 


Britt Olizarowicz