How to Clean a Sheepskin Rug at Home

by Alexa

By Alexa Erickson

The cozy, soft feel of a sheepskin rug makes it a great addition to the home. And there are so many ways to style it! A small one can be draped over a chair or placed in an office at your feet beneath the desk. A large one can be the focal point of the living room, or provide a luxurious look under the dining table. But keeping a sheepskin rug in prime condition requires a little insight to keep the material’s soft and fluffy nature intact.

Accidents happen, and if your rug gets foot traffic it’ll need to be cleaned now and then. Here’s what you need to know about how to clean a sheepskin rug.

sheepskin rug, purple couch, and lamp in corner of bedroom

Photo via Shutterstock

What Is the Difference Between Sheepskin, Lambskin, and Faux Fur?

You may hear sheepskin and lambskin used to describe what appears to be the same product, but there’s a difference between the two. The main difference is the age of the animal. While lambskin comes from young ovine animals, sheepskin comes from mature ovine animals.

Sheepskin is tanned with the fleece (or wool) intact and is characterized by its fleece on one side and leather on the other. Its younger counterpart, lambskin, features a tanned grain that’s finer, softer, shinier, silkier to the touch, and shorter.

Then there are the lookalikes. Faux sheepskin and faux lambskin feature artificial or synthetic furs that are less expensive. Most faux shearling is 100 percent acrylic. 

Can You Machine Wash a Sheepskin Rug?

Avoid machine washing your sheepskin rug. It can, however, be hand washed, but that should be your last call of action in terms of cleaning it. Sheepskin is antibacterial by nature, while also being resistant to the growth of mold, so it doesn’t require a full-on wash to remove germs. If you follow the general cleaning and deep cleaning tips below, you may never have to wash the rug.

hands grabbing sheepskin rug

How to Remove Food and Mud Stains from a Sheepskin Rug

Whether you spilled spaghetti sauce on your rug or accidentally trampled some mud on the fibers, be sure to tackle food and mud stains as soon as you find them using the following method. We suggest a dedicated sheepskin cleaner here so that the natural fibers and leather of the rug keep their integrity. 

Tools and Materials Needed

Step 1: Create Cleaning Mixture

Mix a cap-full of Eucalan cleaner with two cups of warm water in a spray bottle, or according to the directions on the cleaner.

Step 2: Spray Mixture on the Stain, Blot

Spray a generous squirt of the cleaning mixture onto the stained area of the sheepskin. Use a clean, dry cloth to blot the stain. Once the stain has successfully transferred, blot the area with a cloth dipped in plain water to remove the cleaning residue.

Step 3: Air Dry, Comb

Allow the rug to air dry on a drying rack, but do not expose it to direct heat or sunlight. Once completely dry, use a wire brush across the area to lift the fibers. Shake the rug out to fluff it back up.

How to Remove Oil Stains from a Sheepskin Rug

For oil stains, the approach for spot cleaning involves cornstarch, which has the power to soak up oil while remaining gentle on the rug’s fibers.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Cornstarch 
  • Vacuum
  • Wire brush

Step 1: Sprinkle Cornstarch

Sprinkle enough cornstarch on the area to completely cover the stain. 

Step 2: Let Set

Allow the cornstarch to remain on the rug for several hours to give it time to absorb the oil. 

Step 3: Vacuum

Vacuum up the cornstarch with a plain suction. Use a wire brush to comb out any matted areas. Repeat the process if the stain remains after the first try.

How to Deep Clean a Sheepskin Rug

Despite your best efforts to spot clean, there will likely come a time when you need to deep clean your sheepskin rug. It’s a rug, after all—so it’s bound to see everything from outdoor shoe traffic to dog paws to dust. If it's showing any obvious signs of dirt or if it's starting to smell, it's time for a deep clean.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Vacuum
  • Wire brush
  • Eucalan wool wash or another sheepskin-safe detergent
  • Large tub
  • Drying rack

Step 1: Shake and Comb Rug

Remove loose soil and dust by shaking the rug outdoors and follow up by brushing with a wire brush. If the rug is too big to shake, you can vacuum the rug using plain suction.

Step 2: Fill Bathtub With Cleaning Solution

In the bathtub, mix Eucalan wool wash with lukewarm water, following the ratio provided on the product label’s directions.

Step 3: Fully Submerge the Rug

Place the rug in the tub, fully submerging it in the cleaning solution. 

Step 4: Massage the Rug

Use your hands to massage the cleaning solution into the sheepskin rug for five minutes. 

Step 5: Drain the Tub, Refill With Clean Water

Drain the tub of the cleaning solution. Refill the tub with clean, cool water. Massage the clean water through the fibers of the rug. Drain the tub once again and gently squeeze excess water from the rug. 

Step 6: Air Dry, then Brush

Hang the rug on a drying rack to air dry in an area without any direct heat or sunlight. Wait until the rug is fully dry, and then brush the fibers with the wire brush. 

two feet standing on a sheepskin rug

More Sheepskin Rug Care Tips

Here are some more sheepskin rug-tending tips that will help keep your rug looking great and feeling soft:

  • Keep up on spot cleanings. Spot cleaning your sheepskin rug will cut back on the need to deep clean it. 
  • Shake and brush it as part of your regular cleaning. Shaking will dislodge dirt, while brushing keeps it fluffy and soft. 
  • Regular vacuuming will also keep it free of grime.
  • Keep the rug out of the sun and direct heat, as both can damage fibers and fade the fibers.
  • On the same note, never keep sheepskin rugs in damp conditions, which can deteriorate the leather.
  • If your rug is starting to smell, all it might need is some fresh air. Try hanging outside on a dry, cool day and in a shaded spot for a few hours.

Do you own a sheepskin rug? How do you decorate it in your home?

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