The hide of a sheep is referred to as sheepskin. It may also be referred to as lambskin. Sheepskin is tanned with its fleece intact like a pelt.
Sheepskin is used in the production of soft wool-lined clothing or coverings like slippers, gloves, hats, rugs, seat covers and a host of other things.
Sheepskin is an excellent natural insulator and draws moisture from its wearer and into its fibers. Sheepskin has been tested and shown to be effective in the treatment of pressure ulcers.
Sheepskin coats, vests, and boots are common in the traditional dress of people, especially in the old world particularly in Eastern Europe and North Asia.
Natural sheepskin rugs are created from the skins of sheep with the wool fibers permanently fixed to their skin during the tanning process.
The wool can be left as its natural color or dyed to create a range of hues. The rugs are favored because wool fibers are soft and resilient, they retain a natural oil that resists dirt and odors, wool is flame retardant up to 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit, it is sustainable and biodegradable.
Faux sheepskin rugs are produced from petroleum-based synthetic fibers like other faux furs to mimic the look of natural sheepskin. Both are easy to care for with regular maintenance and cleaning.
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In this article, we will be focusing on rugs made from Sheepskin, easily known as Sheepskin rug and how this rug can be cleaned.
Sheepskin rugs are known for being soft and fluffy, they are great because of these qualities and can be used in almost any area of your home.
This doesn’t mean the rug is immune to wear, walking across the sheepskin too much, sitting on it or allowing your pets use it as a bed can cause the rug to lose its fluffy and soft properties and even flatten it and make it lose that shine that comes with a genuine sheepskin rug.
In order to restore its shine, cleaning the Sheepskin rug becomes necessary.
Cleaning Sheepskin Rug
Often, people are not sure whether or not to clean a sheepskin rug in order to care for it.
Some people care for their sheepskin rug by washing it on a gentle wool cycle while others warn against this and believe it can cause irreplaceable damage to the sheepskin.
Lanolin is a wax secreted by the glands of wool-bearing animals. It is antibacterial and cleans the wool of the animal.
Sheepskin contains Lanolin, each time the sheepskin rug is washed a little bit of Lanolin is washed away until the wool loses all its Lanolin and the rug begins to dull and matte.
What You Will Need:
- Wool wash
- Gentle detergent
- Dull knife or spoon
- Large sink or tub
- Washing machine
- White cleaning cloths
- Wire wool comb or dog comb, soft-bristled brush
- Heavy terry cloth towels
- Drying rack or clothesline
- Baking soda
What To Avoid
If you decide to clean your sheepskin rug it is extremely important you don’t use products containing bleach, alkaline or biological enzymes
Get Rid Of Dust
The first thing you would need to do is to shake the sheepskin rug out properly. This helps rid the rug of dust and dirt particles.
This should then be followed by thorough brushing of the rug. To do this you would need a sheepskin wool carding brush or a dog brush. It is possible that while brushing some fibers come out, this is totally normal.
Lanolin and its self-cleaning properties make it so that once you brush the sheepskin rug, most of the work involved in cleaning the rug is done.
Get Rid Of Smell
The sheepskin rug may be or may not be smelly. If it is, sprinkling baking powder and gently rubbing it into the rug should do the trick.
Baking powder absorbs odors and gives the sheepskin rug a sort of natural smell. After a few hours of leaving the baking powder in the rug, vacuum the rug so as to remove the baking powder from the rug.
After this process, you may add drops of essential oils (eucalyptus or peppermint) into the root of the fibers.
This is in our opinion, the best way to wash a sheepskin rug. Hand washing a sheepskin rug is the gentlest way to wash your sheepskin rug and it protects the fibers for longer.
It is important that the rug is brushed first while it is dry to prevent tangles and matting when washing. To hand-wash your sheepskin rug, you simply need to fill a bath with cold water, add a wool shampoo preferably one made for sheepskin rugs.
Then you want to gently swish the hide around the bath and allow water to loosen any dirt remaining in the fiber.
When hand washing, you want to avoid scrubbing the rug as it can cause an irreversible change in the texture of the sheepskin rug.
Once the water for the washing of the rug is dirty, you would need to empty the bath and refill it to rinse the rug, rinsing can be repeated as many times as required until the water is clear and dirt-free.
Once the rug is clean, gently squeeze out as much water as you can from the rug before you transfer the sheepskin into a container. You want to transfer it to a container to avoid the risk of the rug getting torn while carrying it as it often can.
Some people prefer to put the hide in the washing machine and set it on a gentle spin cycle to lose excess water while others like to let the sheepskin dry by itself.
Ensure you lay the sheepskin flat with the leather side up in a cool, well-ventilated area as sheepskins take a long time to dry due to their weight and thickness.
Note that leaving the hide in sunlight is damaging, as is drying them with a hairdryer, or a tumble dryer.
If you just want to get rid of a stain on a particular spot on your sheepskin rug, then you may not require much more than a spot clean.
This can be done by soaking the stain with a clean, dry cloth. After blotting as much of the stain as is possible, apply sheepskin detergent containing lanolin to a damp cloth then gently wipe the stain until it comes off.
While we do not recommend machine washing your sheepskin rug, it is essential to set your washing machine to a cool wash on a gentle wool cycle.
Using hot water to wash your sheepskin rug can affect its size and texture. It is also important to use an enzyme-free sheepskin detergent and avoid the use of bleach, alkaline or fabric conditioners as they can cause permanent damage to your rug.
Once you are done washing your rug, you want to set a spin cycle then lay the sheepskin out the same you would have if you had washed it by hand.
If you must dry clean, it is important that the sheepskin rug is given to sheepskin and suede professionals to prevent chemical damage.
To dry clean your rug, you would need to give it to established companies who offer specialized suede, specialized leather and sheepskin dry cleaning services.
Read The Care Label Before Washing
Before washing your sheep rug, take a moment to read its care label. A lot of dyed sheepskin rugs need to be dry cleaned to prevent fading.
Some rugs are labeled as machine washable. If you choose to machine-wash, use a front-load washer or a top-load washer without a center agitator, cold water, wool wash, and the gentle cycle for the best results. Too much agitation can lead to matting and frizzled fibers.
Washing A Faux Sheepskin Rug
A faux sheepskin rug can be hand-washed using the same steps as a natural sheepskin rug. The difference is that you can use any gentle laundry detergent.
It is important to allow the rug to air dry as the high heat in a clothes dryer may melt the fur. If the fibers become tangled, use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush any matted fur and lift the fibers.
It is important to know that the leather-backing of your sheepskin rug will never be as soft as when it was new. No matter how you wash it. This goes for the yellow aged color the sheepskin rug acquires over time.
Things To Do:
- Invest in a good sheepskin rug
- Vacuum the fibers
- Keep your rug in a cool, ventilated place
- Brush regularly to maintain softness
- Shake it out regularly
Things To Not Do:
- Leave in direct sunlight
- Tumble dry
- Dry on a radiator
- Use bleach to wash
- Wash in hot water
- Brush when wet
There you go! That is how to go about cleaning that sheepskin rug of yours. You have successfully restored the lost glory of that rug and maybe gotten rid of that strange smell in your living room. You can now take a deep breath and admire your sheepskin rug. We hope this information was useful.