How to Clean a Sheepskin Rug at Home Like a Pro

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 25, 2024

Your beautiful sheepskin rug adds a luxurious layer of comfort to your home. The soft, fluffy fibers are soothing to the touch and warm underfoot. When it gets dirty and matted, cleaning your sheepskin rug can be a challenge.

You’re right to be cautious. Sheepskin rugs need special care.

You can do it, but you need to know how to clean a sheepskin rug like a pro. We help Chicago homeowners with all types of area rug cleaning, and we enjoy sharing our expertise.

Let’s make cleaning sheepskin rugs easy with this step-by-step guide and plenty of insider tips.

Let’s dive in.

What Makes Sheepskin Rugs Special?

You love your sheepskin rug for its natural beauty and the way it feels under bare feet, but the rug is special in a surprising number of ways. For example, it’s an excellent choice for individuals with health issues. The resilient wool fibers are both hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial, which is why wool rugs are so ideal for the home.

Sheepskin rugs are also valued for their durability. With proper care, sheepskins can keep floors warm for 15 years or more. They’re also earth-friendly. Sheepskin is considered a sustainable choice, and it’s biodegradable.

How to Clean a Real Sheepskin Rug

The natural lanolin in wool helps your rug resist dirt and odors.

However, a sheepskin rug does need to be cleaned at least once or twice a year.

You may run across information about how to wash and shampoo a real sheepskin rug. It’s important to understand that immersing real sheepskin in water will ruin it. This will cause the backing to dry and crack.

The steps outlined here are general recommendations on how to clean your sheepskin rug.

We strongly advise letting our professional rug cleaners handle the job. We have the expertise it takes to safely clean real sheepskin.

1. Start With Mineral Spirits

As we explained, you never want to clean a real sheepskin rug with water. Instead, add odorless mineral spirits to your cleaning supplies. You’ll find this product at home improvement centers.

2. Mist the Sheepskin

Using a spray bottle, mist your sheepskin rug with the mineral spirits. Cover both sides with a light spray. Mineral spirits loosen dirt without making the rug backing brittle.

3. Brush Both Sides

Start by brushing the back side of the rug with a medium bristle brush for five minutes. Next, gently work the mist into the sheepskin fur. You can use a carding brush on the wool.

4. Vacuum the Spirits

Finish cleaning the rug by vacuuming it with a wet vac. Take care of the backing first, and then vacuum the wool fur. This removes dirt and the mineral spirits.

5. Let the Sheepskin Dry

Drape the sheepskin rug over something sturdy so that fresh air can circulate around the backing and fur. The mineral spirits will evaporate within 24 to 48 hours.

6. Brighten White Rugs

Keep white sheepskin rugs lustrous and bright by spraying with 4% hydrogen peroxide.

Please note: This step is only applies to white or off-white sheepskin rugs.

7. Fluff Your Clean Rug

Finally, shake your clean, dry sheepskin rug so that the fur becomes fluffy again. You can also groom through the fur with your wool carding brush.

Power Tip: If you don’t have a wool carding brush, use a wire bristle pet brush.

How to Clean a Faux Sheepskin Rug

Unlike real fur rugs, a faux sheepskin rug can be washed and shampooed. The bathtub is an ideal spot for the job. These six steps outline how to a clean faux sheepskin.

1. Prep the Faux Sheepskin

Loosen up dirt in fibers by taking the faux sheepskin rug outside and giving it a good shake. Thoroughly comb through the wool with a carding brush. Otherwise, knots and matting can become badly tangled during the cleaning process.

2. Prep the Bath

Run cold water in the bathtub, and mix in a shampoo that’s pH neutral, non-ionic and designated safe for natural wool. Follow product instructions for precise measurements.

3. Soak and Clean

Immerse your faux sheepskin in the tub, and let it soak. After 10 or 15 minutes, gently squeeze the soapy water through the fibers. Work the entire rug for five minutes. Too much bath time can cause the fibers to mat.

4. Drain and Rinse

Drain the tub, refill it with cold water, and gently squeeze the rug fibers. Drain and fill the tub again, and repeat the process until the water stays clear. Finally, let the rug drain in the empty tub for 20 minutes.

Power Tip: Small rugs can be rolled and squeezed in heavy towels to remove excess water.

5. Slowly Air-Dry

Air-drying helps prevent a faux sheepskin rug from becoming hard after washing. Lay your rug on a dry towel, pull it into shape, and thoroughly brush the wet fibers. Hang the faux sheepskin over a sturdy rack, and let it air-dry for several days. Keep it away from heat and direct sunlight.

Power Tip: Speed up drying time by running a dehumidifier in the same room as the rug.

6. Brush, Fluff and Massage

Once the rug is completely dry, give it one last brushing. This final grooming separates fibers and restores the fluffy feel that makes your rug so special. Give the rug’s leather a good massage to keep it pliable, and you’re all done.

3 FAQs About Cleaning Sheepskin Rugs

cleaning sheepskin rugs

1. Can I wash a sheepskin rug in the washing machine?

Only faux sheepskin rugs can be machine-washed. Use cold water and an appropriate cleaning product. Make sure the washer is set on the gentle cycle. Remove the rug immediately after the final spin. Never try this technique on a real sheepskin rug. Washing real sheepskin in water will ruin the natural fur and leather backing.

2. How do I soften sheepskin leather after washing?

The mineral spirts used when cleaning a real sheepskin rug will keep the leather soft. If you’re concerned that the backing is too dry, spray it lightly with mineral spirits, and allow the mist to soak in. Don’t vacuum the leather.

3. How should I condition a sheepskin rug?

Regular brushing is the most effective way to condition sheepskin. Applying mineral spirits on sheepskin leather also helps keep the rug backing pliable.

5 Tips That Keep Your Sheepskin Rug in Top Condition

1. Shake and brush your sheepskin rug on a regular basis. This keeps fibers fresh and fluffy, and it prevents dirt from settling deep into the rug.

2. Gently hand vacuum a sheepskin rug with a nozzle attachment. Use the lowest power setting, and work in the same direction as the fur naturally falls.

3. Treat stains with a light spray of 4% hydrogen peroxide. This works on all types of stains, including coffee, wine and pet urine. It might take three or four applications. Dry with a fan or a blow-dryer set on low.

4. Always store sheepskin rugs in cool, well-ventilated areas away from direct heat and sunlight. Never put sheepskin in any type of non-breathable container or plastic sheeting. Instead, wrap sheepskin rugs in Tyvek paper before storing.

5. Let a professional rug cleaning and restoration company like ServiceMaster by Zaba in Chicago, IL take care of large sheepskin rugs. They can also repair and restore damaged and stained rugs.

Looking for Professional Sheepskin Rug Cleaning in Chicago? We Can Help!

We understand how much you value your special sheepskin rug. If you’re not sure about DIY cleaning, we’re happy to take care of it. You can trust us to gently clean, dry and refresh all the area rugs in your home.

We specialize in area rug repairs and restoration too, so give us a call. Your rugs deserve the very best care from Chicago’s premier rug cleaners.

Give us a call for professional sheepskin rug cleaning services in Chicago, IL and suburbs: 773-647-1985