Your sheepskin rug is a glorious home accessory which will stand the test of time but which may require a little care once in a while. Sheepskin is a natural product which will take a bit of wear and tear but which must be treated correctly if its natural beauty is to be preserved.
In the Home
You can give your sheepskin a longer life by positioning it correctly in the home. Don’t place the rug in direct sunlight as this can cause fading and sunspots. Remember that sheepskin does not fare well in damp conditions. Lengthy exposure to damp can lead to the formation of bacteria which will damage the fleece and could make it rather smelly!
Your rug spends a lot of time on the floor and so it will inevitably pick up dust and debris over the course of time. A regular shake and brush will keep the fleece looking good and feeling great. Use a wire brush or comb to gently restore your rug and be careful not to work too vigorously or to tug and pull the fibres.
From time to time you may need to give your rug a more thorough clean. If it hasn’t been dyed and is natural in colour then this can be done my hand or by machine. Dyed products should only be dry cleaned by an establishment which is experienced in dealing with skins.
To wash your rug use cool water or a cool, delicate cycle on your machine and wash with a proprietary detergent. Never be tempted to reach for laundry detergents as these contain enzymes and bleaches which will strip the wool of its natural softness and cause the leather to become stiff and hard. Once the skin has been washed use the spin cycle on your machine to clear the excess water or if cleaning by hand then you should gently press away the water.
Give the rug a gentle brush whilst still wet as this will help to make the final brushing much easier when the rug is dry. To dry the rug lay it out and reshape it and then leave it flat or carefully hang it to dry naturally. It is important to reshape your rug whilst it is still damp as this is when it is most pliable. When partially dry give the rug a further brush.
You should never use a tumble dryer or hang your rung over a radiator. Sheepskin will not respond well to direct heat sources and can harden and shrink.
Once your rug has been cleaned and dried the wool may look a little curly and flat. This is no cause for panic as this is what the fibres looked like when they were still on the sheep! All you need to do is brush the fleece with your wire brush or comb using gentle strokes to restore your rug to its fluffy appearance.
If cared for properly your sheepskin rug will give you years of pleasure and will certainly stand the test of time. Just a little TLC every so often makes all the difference and is well worth the effort.
Sally Stacey is a keen writer and business owner who divides her time between writing and running her shop.