How to clean a sheepskin rug

Last updated:

Among the many different varieties of rugs, sheepskin rugs are one of the most popular. But once they get dirty you will want to know how to clean a sheepskin rug.

They are well-known for their soft and fluffy texture. This makes them excellent for infusing a sense of ‘hygge’ into practically any room of the house.  They also lend textural interest to even the most basic of interior design spaces.

Although they are durable, walking across a sheepskin rug, sitting on it, or allowing pets to sleep on it on a regular basis can cause it to flatten and become dull in appearance.

And when that happens, you will probably want to know how to clean a sheepskin rug.

Some of the most asked questions that sheepskin rug owners have are answered in this article.

Our comprehensive sheepskin rug care guide will answer all of these questions and more. This will help you restore and clean a sheepskin rug so that it feels as good as new.

How To Care For And Clean A Sheepskin Rug

how to clean sheepskin rug

Sheepskin contains a wax called lanolin.  The glands of wool-bearing animals secrete lanolin which provides an antibacterial self-cleaning property.

Each time the sheepskin is washed, the lanolin in the fibres is gradually stripped away. This results in the skin becoming dull and matte over time. We don’t recommend you wash your sheepskin rug very regularly.

It is important to follow our guide on washing a sheepskin rug.  This will help maintain the integrity of the original condition of the sheepskin rug.

Can you vacuum a sheepskin rug?

You should not use a floor vacuum with a rolling brush on your sheepskin rug. Now you may do so with other types of rugs, but with a sheepskin rug using a floor vacuum could damage it. Instead, you should opt for a thorough back-and-forth technique using the regular suction hose attachment

Can you wash a sheepskin rug?

Yes. You can wash a sheepskin rug.

Hand washing a sheepskin rug is the ideal method.  It is a much gentler approach that keeps the fibres in better condition for a longer period of time.

How to wash a sheepskin rug?

You should first thoroughly brush the rug whilst it is dry to avoid tangles and matting.

Then fill a bath with cold water and a wool shampoo formulated expressly for use on sheepskin rugs.   Place the sheepskin rug in the bath.

A gentle swishing of the rug in the bath will allow the water to release any dirt trapped in the fibres.

Avoid scrubbing the sheepskin rug.  This might cause an irreversible felt-like texture to develop on the surface.

Once the water has become dirty, drain the bath and replace it with clean water to rinse the sheepskin rug. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until the water is clear.

Once the sheepskin rug has been cleaned, carefully squeeze out as much water as possible.  Then transfer it to a container to reduce the risk of breaking the leather when transporting.

Some like to place the rug in a washing machine and run it through a mild spin cycle to remove excess water.  Others prefer to let the sheepskin dry naturally.  

Can you wash a sheepskin rug in the washing machine?

When it comes to sheepskin care, there is a lot of conflicting information about whether you can machine wash sheepskin rugs.

While some swear by the benefits of washing on a soft wool cycle, others caution that doing so can cause irreparable harm to the sheepskin rug.

One thing is for sure. Products containing biological enzymes, bleach, or alkaline are not recommended for use on sheepskin if you do opt to wash it in the washing machine.

Ideally, you should not wash your sheepskin rug in the washing machine.

How to wash a sheepskin rug in the washing machine?

Although it is not recommended to wash a sheepskin rug in the washing machine if you do decide to do so make sure to only use a cool wash on a mild wool cycle.  Avoid using hot water, since hot water can alter the size and texture of your rug.

It is critical to use an enzyme-free sheepskin detergent.  Bleach, alkaline, and fabric conditioners can cause lasting harm to the sheepskin.

Once the sheepskin has been washed in the washing machine lay it out the same way you would if you were washing it by hand.

How to dry a sheepskin rug?

Because of their weight and thickness, sheepskins take a long time to dry.  Lay the sheepskin flat with the leather side facing up in a cool, well-ventilated location.

Leaving the hide exposed to direct sunlight and drying it with a hairdryer or tumble drying is harmful to the hide.

How To Soften A Sheepskin Rug After It Has Been Washed?

You’ve just finished washing your sheepskin rug, and it now looks and smells like new.

As a result of washing, sheepskin rugs tend to feel less soft than they did before. 

And many people want to know how to soften a sheepskin rug?

There are several steps you can take to ensure that the rug retains its fluffy appearance and is nice and soft once again.

Follow these simple techniques to restore the fluffiness of your sheepskin rug to its former glory!

When washing the sheepskin rug, make sure you use a sheepskin detergent made specifically for sheepskin. In order to avoid damaging the rug, it is necessary to maintain proper pH levels.

In order to dry your sheepskin rug, it should be laid flat on the floor and away from direct sunlight. Shade is preferable because it allows the rug to slowly release any moisture that has been trapped in its fibres.

Swat your sheepskin with a wooden stick (you could even use a wooden spoon!) to make sure it is completely dry. It is beneficial to beat your sheepskin rug to keep it feeling supple and smooth.

Can You Brush A Sheepskin Rug?

Yes, you can brush a sheepskin rug. And it is good for the rug to get brushed every so often.

How To Brush A Sheepskin Rug?

brush sheep rug

The first step should always be to completely shake out the sheepskin. This will aid in the removal of dust and dirt particles. After you have shaken the sheepskin you should give it a thorough brushing.

You shouldn’t be concerned if some of the fibres come out when you brush the rug, this is entirely natural.

Sheepskin rugs have different characteristics from other types of carpets.

Because of the lanolin in the sheep wool, it has a dirt-resistant characteristic. Brushing it thoroughly should be sufficient to remove most dirt while leaving the rug smooth and fluffy.

What is the best brush for a sheepskin rug?

It is best to brush with a sheepskin wool carding brush or a dog brush from your local pet store.

Clean a Sheepskin Rug and Getting Rid of the Smell

A sheepskin rug’s ability to absorb naturally occurring odours in the air is remarkable. The fibres of the sheepskin rug absorb odour molecules into the wool, making them less noticeable to the human nose.

If your sheepskin rug does begin to smell, it could be as a result of liquid spilt onto the rug or moisture that has been trapped in the rug.

If the rug smells bad, sprinkle some baking powder on it and gently work it into the rug.  Allow the baking powder to absorb the odours. After a few hours, use the hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner to pick up the powder that has accumulated.

A few drops of essential oil (eucalyptus or peppermint) are a good choice.  They can be rubbed into the root of the fibres where they meet the leather.

A sheepskin rug does not need to be washed. 

It is good to know how to clean a sheepskin rug if there is a strong odour present.

First vacuum and shake the carpets outside.

If the odour persists, place the rug outside in the fresh air for a few hours.

What Is The Best Way To Keep A Sheepskin Rug From Becoming Yellow?

Woollen rugs are susceptible to yellowing if they are not properly cared for and treated after purchase.

But do not become concerned!

There are some simple steps you can do to keep your rug from fading.

As discussed above we wish to avoid washing a sheepskin rug unless absolutely essential.  We should therefore take some precautions to avoid this from happening.

Take precautions to ensure that your sheepskin rug does not become exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation for extended periods of time.

If your rug has been colour-treated, it will eventually revert to its original colour.  Limiting its exposure to bright sunlight can help to delay this process.

Because removing yellow stains from a sheepskin rug is extremely difficult and almost often irreparable, we recommend that you store your rug in a shady and cool location.

How To Maintain The Fluffy Feel Of A Sheepskin

The quickest and most effective approach to maintaining a sheepskin fluffy is to brush it on a regular basis.

There are, however, alternative methods for keeping your sheepskin as fluffy as possible!

You may be tempted to Google ‘how do I wash a sheepskin rug’ if you’ve spilt something on one of the corners of your rug.

As we have already said, avoid washing sheepskin rugs as much as possible.

Instead, consider spot-cleaning your rug to avoid causing damage to it and to preserve it at its fluffiness peak.

When it comes to little spills, nothing more than a spot clean is required.

Try spot-cleaning the stain with a dry, clean cloth.

Once you have blotted up as much of the stain as you possibly can, dab a moist cloth with some sheepskin detergent that contains lanolin and gently wipe the stain away till it lifts.

Can You Dry Clean A Sheepskin Rug?

Dry cleaning should only be used as a last resort as a way to clean a sheepskin rug. It should only be done by experts in the field of sheepskin and suede to avoid chemical damage. They are the experts and will know the best way to clean a sheepskin rug.

Summary of how to care for and clean a sheepskin rug


  • Make an investment in a high-quality sheepskin rug.
  • Fibres should be vacuumed.
  • Maintain a cool, well-ventilated environment for your rug.
  • Maintain softness by brushing on a regular basis.
  • Shake it out on a regular basis


  • Place the rug in direct sunshine.
  • Dry on a tumble drier
  • Use a radiator to dry
  • Use bleach.
  • Wash the rug in hot water

If you also have a cowhide rug that needs a clean check out our article on how to clean a cowhide rug