Monday, 28 August 2017

How to wash a sheepskin rug

A lot of people are put off sheepskin rugs because of a perceived difficulty in cleaning them. However, I've had mine for more than 15 years, and it gets washed at least once every year too. Before I go into how I clean my rug, it's important to keep your sheep as nice as possible the rest of the year. Give it regular shakes outdoors, and a good brushing every few months. And don't stamp around on it in your outdoor shoes! The less grubby you make it, the less cleaning it will need. Unfortunately, mine is right by the fireplace, so was looking horribly grey lately. Time it had a wash...


You will need 
A bathtub
Shampoo and hair conditioner
An outdoor area
A garden chair or other sturdy support
A very hot, dry day.

Put your sheepskin in the bath, skin-side down. Turn the taps on. I usually have the water hand-warm; as long as you don't over-agitate the rug you're unlikely to turn it into felt. Let the water get a few inches deep, enough to cover the fleece and let it drift about. The rug will probably float slightly.

Squirt a bit of shampoo over the rug and rub it gently in with long sweeps of your hand. You don't need to work up a mass of bubbles, and you don't want to felt your rug, you just want to get the detergent in to do its work. Don't be alarmed if your sheepskin looks darker than usual, this is normal when it's wet. My nice cream one always goes a manky yellow colour.
Push the rug down into the water to rinse the shampoo out. Drain the water from the tub – push the rug up the non-plug end and give it a gentle squish to get extra water and grot out. You'll probably notice particles of sand and dirt coming out.

Repeat the shampooing and rinsing if your rug is especially grubby.

Gently rub conditioner into the fleece.

Now pop the plug back in the tub and turn the taps on. Again, get the water a couple of inches deep and rinse off the conditioner.
Drain the water from the tub, and give your fleece a gentle squish. If you've started this early enough and the day is hot enough, leave the sheepskin in the bath to drain for a bit longer. Otherwise grab the sodden, heavy mass, and run (it'll drip horrendously!) outside to your waiting garden chair. Hang the rug over the back of the chair so it can drip harmlessly and dry in the direct sunshine. Later in the day you might want to turn the rug over so the sun can get at the skin side.
Your rug may look at bit ratty at this point. Don't worry about that. Leave it till it is completely dry, then give it a good brush with a wide-toothed brush so it becomes lovely and fluffy again. I promise, it will look brighter and cleaner, it'll smell nice... it'll be like getting a whole new rug.

13 comments :

  1. What an absolute brIlliant tutorial, Mim. I love sheepskin rugs but they always end up looking a bit sad and manky. The are so lovely and snuggly though. I bet your cats love your rug. Xx

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    1. Pippin's not keen on it, but Ziggy loves it - he really paddies with his front feet on it.

      Poor little man is in the vet's right now; we had to take him in as an emergency 'cos he seems to have licked something bad for him. Keeping my fingers crossed that he recovers. We got him in ASAP, so hopefully he'll get better.

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    2. So sorry to read about Ziggy, Mim. It must be so worrying for you right now. They are little heartbreakers. Sending lots of best wishes and I hope that poor Ziggy is on his way to recovery very soon. Xx

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  2. Good step by step advice, which I've taken note of. I've been tempted to buy a sheepskin rug, but didn't think it a good idea with a cat, especially a black one, around. I'm sure Phoebe would claim it as her own ... xxx

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    1. Pippin ignores ours, but Ziggy loves it.

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  3. That's good information there. I can't imagine how heavy it must get when wet.

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    1. It does weigh a fair bit - I make sure I dry it on a sturdy chair.

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  4. Amazeballs! I wash all sorts of things you're not supposed to- down comforters, feather pillows, silk rugs.

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    1. Yeah, I figure if something's at the point of being grubby, it's not like I'd want to keep it much longer in that state, so washing it won't do it any harm. Either it'll make it better, or I'll have to throw the thing out, which was looking likely anyhow.

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  5. This is great fantastic I have two one of which is in desperate need of a wash so I'm gonna do it today following your instructions.

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    1. Just make sure the day is hot enough to get it dry - lots of sunshine to bake all the moisture back out.

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  6. That's an ace tutorial, Mim! Thanks. I shan't be afraid next time I see a skanky rug at a car boot sale. xxx

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    1. Well, it helps if they're not *too* skanky! But it definitely works - I've had my rug over 15 years now.

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