How to Clean a Sheepskin Rug

June 6, 2013 — 28 Comments

A few months ago I found a sheepskin rug in my parent’s garage and after gently questioning them about it’s use I found that it wasn’t being used and that I could have it – yay!

For the past few months it has been living in my bedroom in front of my nightstand. Despite coming from a garage it was in great condition.

Not sure why I made my bed such a backwards way, but anyway, the sheepskin looked really nice until Bob (I could end just about any sentence that way… until Bob). I had noticed in the past few months that Bob just loved to lay on that thing and chew up his toys. Which is totally fine with me except that all his hair started to get stuck in the fur of the rug which is confusing and then there were all these bits of chewed up dog toys stuck in the fur, plus some blue ink got on it and honestly don’t know who is to blame for that. But all of that wasn’t enough for me to actually bother to clean it (I would periodically shake it out and try to vacuum it but it wasn’t very helpful) until Bob straight up threw up on it. I was like seriously Bob?! My entire house is hardwood and you choose to vomit on 3’x2′ dry clean only sheepskin? Really? So it went directly into a trash bag to be dealt with later because dog vomit is nasty and ain’t nobody got time to deal with that crap at 11:30pm on a work night. Later I took it out of the bag enough to check the tag which said dry clean only. Okay, that’s annoying but I figured paying $15-20 to get the thing cleaned for me isn’t the worst thing to ever happen. Except the dry cleaners said they wouldn’t take it. Say what? Isn’t that your job to dry clean dry clean items? I was annoyed. But it really need to get cleaned and the vomit had been on it for like a week at this point so I figured I couldn’t hurt it worse by trying to clean it myself. Here is what it looked like pre-cleaning:
dog vomit (semi-censored because nobody wants to see dog vomit)
general filth
blue ink?
dog hair
After several google searches I came up with many different answers. I love the internet but sometimes too many opinions on how to do something can be confusing so I just decided to combine everything I read because I’m all about making good choices!
How to How I cleaned a sheepskin rug:
1) Shake it out
 
The less dirt and hair and other debris that you can remove pre-cleaning is in your best interest.
2) Give it a bath
 
I filled my tub with about six inches of cool water and then I added about three capfuls of baby shampoo.
(the wire brush comes in later)
While I was drawing a bubble bath for my sheepskin rug I couldn’t help but think to myself, “This is such a first world problem.”
The rest is pretty self explanatory… just move it around and bathed it. It was really gross and I got wet and I felt gross and sort of wanted to become a vegetarian afterwards because being that close to wet animal fur makes you reconsider all sorts of things about your life.

3) Rinse and repeat

If I didn’t mention this at the beginning you will get wet. So don’t do this wearing a silk blouse and cardigan like I did because that’s just not smart.

But yeah, you’ve got to rinse and rinse and rinse because animal fur apparently soaks up a lot of water and the water will be filthy and you will be super grossed out and you will totally have to clean your tub afterwards.

After you’ve rinse and squeezed as much water out of the rug as possible it will look like you have a dead labradoodle in your bathtub but be cool because you’ve got to get through this.
4) Brush it out
 
At this point I am like what am I doing with my life???? I am brushing a rug that I just gave a bath, what has my life come too??? But you will get through it, I promise. You will be changed, but you will get through it.
I really wish I could suggest that you skip this step, but I think this might be the key to the success of this process. Brushing out the rug got out a lot of the debris lodged down deep inside the fur. It was also oddly satisfying. I felt like a kid playing with a doll’s hair. Mostly because you can yank and pull and tear out the hair and your doll can’t do anything about it (was I a sadistic child or is that normal?). I used the edge of the bathtub to help me as I brushed out my rug. I felt like I was in an animal version of Psycho wherein I am obsessed with caring for a dead animal because let’s be honest that is exactly what a sheepskin rug basically is.
5) Wait, because this sucker takes for. ever. to dry
 
I exaggerate a lot but when I tell you took this rug seven days for this rug to dry I am not kidding you. Seven. Days. Honestly, it’s still a little damp. I wish I had a clothes line outside for it because I think that would have been faster. I even dried it in the dryer for 10 minutes but that made me nervous so I stopped. So basically you just have to wait.
But when you are done waiting your rug will be clean and you will have gone to a place deep inside of yourself and come out with a new appreciation for the rug that you have so intimately bathed and cared for.

It is definitely a little more crimpy/curly than it was before but I think if I brushed it again it would look the same, but the crimpyness doesn’t bother me. The washing part only took me about 45 minutes but it felt like forever since this was such a silly task. I really hope I don’t have to wash it again any time soon. Bob, I hope that my angry words got through to you, DO NOT VOMIT ON MY SHEEPSKIN RUG.

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Jasmin

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I'm a single female homeowner who loves all things interior decorating. Especially if it involves thrifting.

28 responses to How to Clean a Sheepskin Rug

  1. Too funny, Jaz! I want more content like this on the sight – “Doing Weird Stuff with Jasmin” can be the category title.

  2. Amazing. And may Bob stay far, far away from your rub in the future.

  3. So funny! I looked it up for advice!!! Is the back of the rug not stiff? I wanted to know if I should put some glycerine in the rinse water?

    My cat always seems to sick up onto something that will show it after it has been washed! This is quite a big sheepskin rug and I might have a go at it at a later date. I’ve just sponged mine with some freaky stain remover sachets. (Here I sound like the Undomesticated Goddess (Sophie Kinsella) which I’m just reading!

    • Hi! Glad it was helpful! The back of the rug is definitely stiffer than it was before it was washed, but it isn’t rock solid or anything. I honestly don’t notice it since it’s always on the ground, but it isn’t super soft like it was before. But anything is better than dog vomit! Good luck cleaning yours!

  4. Hello Jasmin:
    We have been in the sheepskin business for many years. Our experience is you can wash them in a washing machine on no heat using your regular washing detergent, and dry them in the dryer on no heat. Hang them outside works, but not in the direct sun. Long pile sheepskins like you have are better washed in large commercial machines found in laundermats.

  5. Your tutorial made me laugh all the way through. You have a great sense of humor and a lot of guts.

    My dachshund also loves my sheepskin rug and it looks just like your “before” picture. I may try the washer/dryer method the previous commenter suggested, just because I’m too lazy and impatient to wait 7 days with a wet rug.

    Love your home and all your ideas. I bookmarked your site for later enjoyment.

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed my crazy tutorial 🙂 The rug has held up well, but I’m not going to be cleaning it again any time soon haha. I’m glad you are going to come back and visit!

  6. Hilarious. Thanks for the laugh. I too, have to clean a sheepskin..TWO rugs (actually, old seatcovers that are now dog beds) and was wondering just how bad is it going to be. Now I know. Reading this lifted my glowering mood (refer back to the two rugs…). I’ve got to follow your blog now…Jasmin, keepin it real for us.

  7. I love this. I too acquired my rug from my parent, mom passed away and I had to keep it. But my cheetah (chihuahua) loved mommy and seems to love laying on the rug feeling close to her I guess. After making coffee one morning and while feeding the fish, I looked down and noticed “CHICHI! OMG are you serious!” All I could think about is how can I clean it without taking it to a cleaners, who may change a crazy price. I love the internet

  8. I just bought a sheepskin rug yesterday – and my old dog, Scoob, pooped on it!! I wiped up, sprayed vinegar/water, and brushed it out for now, but thanks for this – i’ll be needing it!

  9. I bought mine 20 years ago in Australia, and never thought of DYO. They told me to take it to reputable dry cleaner which I have always done. Its about $35.00, and it turns out beautifully.

  10. Thanks for sharing! Seriously, I appreciate it. I am saddled with the exact same task, dog vomit on my fairly new SNOW white sheepskin…wish me luck!

  11. You made things so hard for yourself. You never paid a fortune for it (it was free right) so what did you have to lose by throwing it in the washing machine? Nowadays, new smart washing machines are so much gentler on clothes (no agitator!). I threw my white sheepskin in on Gentle cycle, and used Woolite (for woollen sweaters). It took 30 minutes. Then I threw it in the dryer, again on low heat for 1 hour. I bought it on ebay, and it came from India. The reason I washed it is it came with a bit of a stain on it. Thoroughly pissed I emailed the merchant. They reimbursed me my money and told me I could keep the rug!! Yaaaay! When it came out of the dryer, all it needed was a brush. It looks fab except the slight stain is still there, so obviously it was not going on my bathroom floor!! So now my Chihuahua wallows in luxury on this soft fluffy sheepskin in his raised car seat when we travel. So – thoroughly recommend in future you just throw that sucker in the washing machine and dryer and throw all caution to the wind. BUT, they all need a nice long brush for sure when dry. Just put it across your lap while watching TV, and rake it until it comes up perfect, spread it over a few nights even? . (Pretend your brushing a pet?) I now have a beautiful burgundy colored replacement for my bathroom floor and my bloody Blue Heeler loves it and grooms herself on it and now her hairs are all stuck it it and will NOT come off!! *sigh*

  12. Right here is the perfect webpage for everyone who really wants to find out about this topic.
    You understand a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want to?HaHa).
    You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic which has
    been written about for many years. Excellent stuff, just great!

  13. Cracked me up! So funny I laughed all the way through this :). My cat just threw up on my sheepskin. Before I threw it out, I thought I’d check. Thank you for a great post!

  14. Ha! Great post, I laughed out loud.

    I just throw mine in the washer on cold though, turns out great!

  15. Oh my goodness…I just laughed and laughed with tears rolling down my face. I just bought my first sheepskin rug tonight and don’t want to ‘mess it up’ and actually use it. I’ve decided I’m going to use the thing darn it or return it so I was researching how to care for it when I came upon this entry. Thanks for the laugh! I think I’ll keep it. 🙂

  16. Just re discovered two sheepskins in the back of a cupboard and looked this up, so funny, thanks for the advice.

  17. Thanks for the great post! When I researched “how to clean sheep skin rugs” I thought the internet hive-mind would have more detailed instructions. Unfortunately I was proved wrong. But after discovering this post, I am pleased that someone on the internet actually provided a step-by-step guide, WITH PICTURES, which made it less intimidating and easier overall.

    My experience: I have IKEA Rens sheep skin rug-looking things that I drape over my dining chairs. I have a large family and these things get filthy. I have washed one so far using Jasmin’s method and it looks great. I didn’t have time to ring it out, so I threw it in my washer on medium spin cycle only to finish the job. All I need to do is comb it. What I can tell is that when it gets wet, it gets heavy and very water-logged. I can also verify that it smells weird when wet.

    Thanks again for the great post.

  18. I found your post after searching for “how to clean cat vomit from an Ikea sheepskin rug.” This is the 2nd time he’s hit the rug (I dont remember who cleaned it last time, or how) and unfortunately he did it while we were out of town. He only goes for rugs and carpeted areas, not the wood floors! Thanks to your post, and some helpful comments, I think I’m ready to tackle this challenge.

  19. Jasmin, your post is helpful, informative and incredibly amusing! Thank you!

  20. I had no idea that it was a good idea to wash sheepskin. It makes sense that you have to keep it clean somehow, and this makes sense since wool needs to be cleaned. Do you have any suggestions as to how to keep sheepskin boots clean and odor free? My wife wants to buy some boots that are made from sheep and I want to help her keep them clean so they last longer.

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  22. But what about the smell afterwards!? I noticed that it’s got a certain smell when the wool gets wet and now that I’ve gone and submerged it, pwew! Any suggestions?

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