How to Care for a White Sheepskin Rug
How do you clean a white sheepskin rug?
There is a common anxiety around washing those special, usually expensive pieces. Often the price tag of high quality items you love is linked to the fact that they are made of natural fibres, which can be perceived as being more problematic to wash than their synthetic counterparts.
Sheepskin falls into this category but it is actually very easy to look after. The unique structure and quality of the wool gives it a natural durability and robustness, meaning your sheepskin products don't actually need to be washed as regularly as you might think.
For the best experience, start with regular vacuuming. If you pair this with a good shake and air outside in the shade you'll find that you'll rarely need to do much else to keep it plush and clean.
For the most part you should be able to keep a new rug in great condition by establishing a regular routine with these three simple steps:
- Vacuum throughly once a week, using a plain suction head (no fancy turbo or rotation heads).
- Regularly take your rug outside and give it a shake.
- Spot clean any spills or marks as they happen. Blot gently with a damp cloth.
If you do have an unexpected accident, the first thing you need to do is to 'contain the stain' so it doesn't spread. Don't add water or other liquids directly onto a stain, as this will spread it further and can damage the backing. Instead use a clean, dry towel or paper towels to firmly blot up the excess liquid, and then use a wet stain remover. This can be purchased from most supermarkets.
If you find spot cleaning isn't enough to remove a particular mark or spill, then try running it under cold water, however a wet wash should be your last port of call. If you do need to then follow these steps:
- Hold the dirty part of your sheepskin under a running cold tap for a minute or two.
- Then use a towel or paper towel and press gently to soak up the remaining liquid.
- If the wet area ends up being quite large, try standing on the towel and pressing gently with your feet.
If you feel that it still needs further cleaning, consider having it dry cleaned.
With white sheepskin, you might find that over time it starts looking a little bit yellow. This is a natural consequence of age and/or sunlight exposure. You could try having the rug professionally cleaned with a special wool whitening solution, but unfortunately even this won't fully reverse the yellowing.
Can you machine wash white sheepskin ?
Its tempting to want to throw your rugs in the washing machine, but if you want them to look beautiful and super soft for years to come you need to give your sheepskin product a little extra care. Even on a cold, delicate cycle your rugs appearance and texture will be impacted by being completely submerged in water.
Of course sheep are made to withstand the elements, and the wool fibres will come up looking beautiful after washing - but the backing will not, and the skin on the underside will harden and be rough. This can result in your rug losing its shape. Sheepskin rugs can handle a handful of washes over their life span, but just be aware they may gain some extra character in the process. It pays to check with the customer service team where you purchased your rug to make sure it can withstand a machine wash.
If you are still determined to throw your rug in the washing machine, then here are some tips:
- Use a specialist wool detergent, it needs to non-bio and pH neutral to ensure it doesn’t get ruined. To avoid any mishaps, test the product on a small, discreet area first.
- Drying slowly in the shade. Lay flat on the floor away from direct sunlight.
- Beat the back of the sheepskin with a wooden stick once it is dry. Peg it onto the clothes line and wack the leather side. This is part of the original tanning process and helps to achieve a supple leather feel.
Sheepskin rugs have either a leather pelt backing or a suede backing. If your rug has a suede backing, then dry clean only. You definitely do not want to put suede through the washing machine.
How do you soften sheepskin after washing?
If your sheepskin rug has lost its lovely soft, light feeling, chances are it has been a well loved part of your family for a number of years. If you have tried everything and still feel like your rug needs a some extra love and attention it might be worth taking it into your local dry cleaners to breath some new life into it. Alternatively, finding a sheepskin specific shampoo and giving it a wash at home may help bring the softness back.
The wool fibres of your sheepskin rug love being washed. They will emerge clean, soft and supple and you shouldn't need to do anything else to soften them up. However, you might find that the leather pelt backing of your sheepskin has hardened after being washed. You can soften the pelt after washing by beating the back of the sheepskin with a wooden stick, once it is dry. You might find it easiest to peg it on the clothes line to do this, or you could drape it over a fence. Beating the leather is actually part of the original tanning process and will help restore that supple leather feel.
Can you dry clean a sheepskin rug?
Yes, when all else fails, or you don't want to risk a wet wash, then let your local dry cleaners work their magic!
Can you put sheepskin in the dryer?
Never put a sheepskin in the dryer. The natural leather the sheepskin backing is made from will dry out, warp and may develop cracking overtime. For best results hang your sheepskin to dry out of direct sunlight or lay flat on a towel in the shade until the material is completely dry.
Should I brush my sheepskin rug?
As long as you are vacuuming weekly and giving your sheepskin a regular shake outside, you shouldn't need to regularly brush as well. A long wool sheepskin rug will benefit from occasional brushing with a metal brush. If your sheepskin looks a bit 'frizzy' after brushing, try using a spray bottle of water to lightly spritz the wool fibres and then gently scrunch with your hands
How do you make a white sheepskin rug last long?
One of the great things about sheepskin is its durability. Provided you properly care for sheepskin rugs they will last for a lifetime. You can rely on the natural quality of the wool to resist stains and soiling to help you.
Here are four tips to get the most life out of your sheepskin rugs and keep them looking great in your home for years to come:
- Room placement is key, highly recommend avoiding direct sunlight. This stops UV damage and fading.
- Vacuum weekly with a plain suction unit.
- Regularly shake outside.
- Blot up spills and stains promptly. Do not rub the wool pile!
If your white sheepskin rugs start to go slightly yellow, this is a natural reaction to age and sunlight and is not possible to reverse. Your best bet is actually prevention.
- Look at the room your sheepskin rug is placed in your home - is it airy and well ventilated?
- Ensure your rug not exposed to strong direct sunlight.
- Avoid having your rug in high humidity areas.
- If you are not using your sheepskin, make sure it is stored in cool, dark, well ventilated cupboard or chest.
By following these steps your sheepskin should continue to look great and bring you enjoyment for years to come.