Sheepskin rugs look great... at first. But then they get sat on, walked on and — after no time at all — just generally gunked and matted up. Good news: Keeping your fur clean, fluffy and camera-ready is a cinch.
Whether your hide is real or faux, you'll find the knowledge you need below. Assemble our essential toolkit and learn the 5 A's of caring for your sheepskin rug.
But first, a note: I understand that there are plenty of Apartment Therapy readers who abhor the idea of displaying an animal hide for decoration. But there are also plenty of readers who own them. I hope we can all agree on this: If you're going to own a real sheepskin, the very best thing you can do is take care of it, treasure it and make sure it lasts forever.
The 5 A's of Caring for Your Sheepskin Rug
Avoid Sun and Moisture
Your sheepskin is a natural hide—so the elements can be an enemy. If you want your rug to live a long and happy life, keep it away from sunlight as much as possible. Avoid getting it wet, as well. For every person who says they washed their sheepskin in the washing machine and it "turned out just fine!," there's another person who had to sadly waste a crispy, hard hide due to improper care.
Adopt a Shake-and-Brush Routine
As part of your regular cleaning, this two-step routine should be efficient against everyday filth. Carry the rug outdoors and give it a good shake to rattle up dust and dislodge any dirt. A good brushing every one in a while with a wide-toothed metal brush. You can find a specialty sheepskin hide brush for less than $10 on Amazon or source a similar-looking dog brush at a local pet store.
Act Fast and Spot Clean
Accidents will happen, so the best thing you can do is be prepared. Make sure you know what to do when stains strike, and that you have the right materials on hand. Immediately after any spill occurs, take a clean and dry cloth and blot as much of the stain out as you can. If the stain persists, you can grab a new (clean) lightly damp cloth and some sheepskin detergent to work the stain out, gently blotting, wiping and scrubbing in the direction of the fur.
I can't state it enough: Being prepared is huge here. Making sure you always have a specialty sheepskin detergent on hand is your best defense against stains ruining your rug. Sheepskin detergents will be free from enzymes that could cause damage, and most of them will be infused with lanolin—a natural fat found in wool—to help restore the natural softness of your hide. Kookaburra is a trusted brand in this space and can be found on Amazon for $7.
Always Dry Naturally
Avoid the urge to throw the rug in the dryer or take your hair dryer to the damp spots on your rug after spot-treating it: Direct heat has the same damaging effect on your hide as sunlight. Instead dry your rug flat, away from any source of heat or sunlight.
Absorb Smells With Baking Soda
If any unwanted smells persist after every other attempt to clean it, sprinkle a bit of baking soda onto your dry rug. You can gently work it in a bit with your hands before letting it sit for a few hours or overnight. When you're ready, you can shake out the rug or vacuum it, but heed this advice: Never use a floor vacuum with a rolling brush on your sheepskin, like you might with another rug—it could damage it. Instead, opt for a thorough back-and-forth technique with the regular suction hose attachment.
The Essential Sheepskin Rug Cleaning Toolkit
You'll be set for regular cleaning and any accidents that come your way with this $20 toolkit.
- Sheepskin Brush: MetU Sheepskin Rug Brush, $8
- Wool Detergent: Kookaburra Wash, $7 for 2 ounces
- Microfiber Cloths: AmazonBasics Thick Microfiber Cloths, $5 for a 3-pack
How to Clean and Care for a Faux Sheepskin Rug
For day-to-day dirt, you can care for your faux sheepkin the same way as you would a real one: Give it a good shake outside, then brush it out with a wide-toothed metal brush.
Otherwise, like any piece of clothing, many manufactured faux skins will have a tag attached with wash and care instructions. If yours does, follow them to the letter! If not, when it gets stained, or needs a more thorough clean, try this three-step routine.
1. Gently Wash
Hand washing is always the safest bet—you can throw your faux rug in the bathtub with cold water and a bit of detergent and slosh it around. Or if you'd prefer, most faux rugs are fine to go in the washing machine; run a cold and delicate cycle with the least spin or agitation possible.
2. Air Dry
With an absorbent towel, you can press, blot and roll your wet rug to get as much moisture out of the faux fur as possible, but after that, lay it flat to air dry.
3. Shake and Brush
When your faux sheepskin is totally dry, give it a final shake and comb it out with a sheepskin brush to get it back to its delightfully fluffy state.