How To Clean Sheepskin Rugs: The Ultimate Guide

A question we’re regularly asked by our customers is “how do I clean my sheepskin?”. Whether it’s your sheepskin rug, boots, slippers or anything else, as a natural material, knowing how to best care for your sheepskin is very important. 

So we’ve put together a big guide on how to clean your sheepskin rug and how to care for sheepskin rugs regularly, broken down into easy to follow sections. Scroll down to find the one that you need to know, or read on for more information on cleaning your sheepskins!

How To Clean Sheepskin Rugs

We know that a sheepskin rug is often an investment in your home, so we believe that treating it with care is the best way to keep it in as good condition as the day you bought it. After all, you don’t want to make the same purchase again just a year later!

Your sheepskin rug will arrive after being packaged with love and care by Colin in our warehouse. They are protected during shipping with carefully selected packaging materials and couriers who will get it to you safe and sound. We suggest that when your sheepskin rug arrives, you give it a good shake to fluff it up back to its original shape after being shipped. 

Can Sheepskin Rugs Be Washed?

The simple answer is yes, sheepskin rugs can be washed! But you do need to go about it in the right way. 

Sheep’s wool is naturally imbued with a waxy substance called lanolin – you might have heard of this in lip balm, moisturiser or hair products, or if you’re breastfeeding as it can help with chapping and cracking. We like to think of it as a more natural and sustainable version of Vaseline!

Lanolin is naturally produced by sheep to protect their woolly coat. It also has the magic properties of helping the fibres to be self-cleaning and of keeping sheep cool in summer and warm in winter by wicking away moisture, whether that’s sweat or rain. 

What does this have to do with washing sheepskin though?

Every time you wash your sheepskin, the lanolin on the fibres is slowly washed away. This can not only leave your sheepskin rug looking a little more dull, but it will also gradually lose those magical self-cleaning and thermoregulating properties. This might result in a more matted looking sheepskin. That’s why we tend to recommend giving your sheepskin regular attention before it reaches the point of needing to be washed. We have a full rundown of proper regular sheepskin care below.

Regular Sheepskin Rug Care

We understand that life happens, and sometimes sheepskin rugs need to be cleaned entirely, but we do try to avoid this where possible. This can be done by following a few sheepskin care tips:

  • If you drop or spill anything on your sheepskin, spot clean those areas immediately with a cool, damp cloth or sponge and specialist wool detergent if needed. 
  • Regularly shake your sheepskin out to avoid any dirt, crumbs or dust being trapped within the sheep’s wool fibres.
  • You can even do the above step with a vacuum cleaner to draw out any dirt.
  • Every so often, let your sheepskin air out on the line in a gentle breeze out of direct sunlight.
  • Regularly brush your sheepskin to keep it looking smooth and sleek, and to avoid any tangles or the wool becoming matted.

Should I Hand Wash My Sheepskin Rug?

Our preferred method by far if our sheepskin has got really grubby is to hand wash our sheepskin rugs. This helps to protect and preserve the sheep’s wool and sheepskin as they can get a bit battered if a washing machine is used! You’ll need a bath or a big deep kitchen sink for this process.

The first step is to remove any loose dirt or debris from your sheepskin, such as crumbs and dust. You can do this by shaking it outside, or gently beating it over a washing line. The next preparation step is to brush out the wool using a sheepskin brush or a pet slicker brush if you don’t have one (if you don’t, we sell sheepskin brushes here for just £2.50!). This will help to prevent any tangles or matts that may occur when it’s wet.

At this point, if you notice any specific marks or stains, use a damp cloth or sponge to gently work on these areas to reduce the stain.

Fill your bath with cool water and a specialist wool detergent. Submerge the sheepskin in the water and gently move it around to release any trapped dirt or debris. Avoid scrubbing any parts of the rug as this can ruin that lovely fluffy look you’re used to! 

Once the water changes colour – it will probably turn a brownish grey shade – you’ll need to drain the water and refill the tub. The whole process may take a good few changes of water, but keep going until it remains clear as this means your sheepskin is fresh and clean.

Now you can gently squeeze out any water and lay it out carefully to dry. You’ll need to have the skin side facing upwards so that the wool fibres can drain the water away. It should be laid flat in a well-ventilated space to dry and may take a long time, but don’t try to speed up the process with a tumble dryer or other heated option – this will just damage the fibres that you’ve taken such care with! 

Once dry, you can then brush it again to get it looking as good as new. Do not brush while still wet as that will stretch the fibres and you’ll lose that lovely sleek and smooth sheepskin look.

Can You Wash A Sheepskin Rug in the Washing Machine?

We are often asked: “Can I put my sheepskin rug in the washing machine?” If you have the option to hand wash, we would recommend this first, but ultimately, if your washing machine has a gentle, cool wool setting, you can use this to wash your sheepskin rug. You will need to follow a few simple steps first though:

  • Give your sheepskin rug a good shake outdoors to get rid of any loose dirt, crumbs, dust or fibres. You can even hang it on the line on a windy day to help the process along.
  • Use a sheepskin brush to gently untangle the wool fibres that may get more matted while in the washing machine.
  • If the sheepskin rug has any small marks or stains, spot clean these with a damp cloth or sponge first so that they don’t become set in with a machine wash. Take care not to stretch the fibres. 
  • Use a specialist wool cleaning washing detergent, and do not use any bleaches or fabric conditioners, as these can damage the natural fabric, cause colour changes or shrink it.
  • Use the coolest temperature possible on your washing machine and a gentle wool cycle. Allow it to spin dry then lay out to dry flat with the leather facing upwards in an airy space with good ventilation.
  • Once dry, which may take a while due to the thick natural material, you can then brush the fibres out again for a smooth, soft look. You may like to give it some time to dry outside too, but keep it out of direct sunlight.
  • Do not use a tumble dryer for a sheepskin rug to speed up the drying process as this will damage the wool and sheepskin.

Should I Dry Clean My Sheepskin Rug?

Cleaning a sheepskin rug can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have one of our larger ones! If need be, there are professional services that can help you with this. We would always recommend regular care at home first, but if it’s too big of a task, you can dry clean your sheepskin rug. 

Our best suggestion is to find a dry cleaner that has experience in leather, suede or sheepskin specialist cleaning services. They will be able to tailor their services to suit your sheepskin rug, give it a deep clean, and return it to you in the best condition possible.

If you have any more questions about how to clean your sheepskin rug, please do get in touch!