Can You Wash a Sheepskin Rug? A Step-by-Step Guide

Natural Area Rugs Blog Staff

Natural Area Rugs Blog Staff

Sheepskin rugs are a luxurious and cozy addition to any living space or bedroom, but many wonder: can I wash a sheepskin rug?

sheepskin rug

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In short, the answer is yes, and in this blog post, we will provide a step-by-step guide to cleaning your sheepskin rug, so that you can keep it looking fresh and new for years to come.

As the popularity of sheepskin rugs is on the rise, more and more people are finding out how wonderfully practical and comfortable these rugs can be – from extra padding underfoot, to providing an inviting and eye-catching aesthetic to any room.

With proper care and maintenance, your sheepskin rug can stay looking and feeling great for a long time.

Can You Machine Wash a Sheepskin Rug?

It depends. Some models are machine washable, but it’s important to check the cleaning instructions that come with your particular rug.

It’s always best to err on the side of caution and hand wash a sheepskin rug, especially if it’s expensive. This way, you can avoid damaging the delicate fibers.

Pros and Cons of Machine Washing a Sheepskin Rug


  • Convenience: Machine washing is a convenient and time-saving method for cleaning a sheepskin rug, as it eliminates the need for hand washing or sending the rug to a professional cleaner.

  • Effective cleaning: Washing machines can effectively remove dirt, stains, and odors from the sheepskin fibers.

  • Gentle cycle: Most washing machines have a gentle cycle that can be used for washing delicate items such as sheepskin rugs.


  • Shrinking: Machine washing can cause the sheepskin fibers to shrink, leading to a loss of shape and softness.

  • Damage to fibers: The agitation and heat generated by the washing machine can cause damage to the delicate fibers of the sheepskin rug.

  • Discoloration: The rug may become discolored due to the chemicals used in laundry detergents or the heat generated by the washing machine.

  • Risk of tangling: The long fibers of the sheepskin rug can easily become tangled during the washing cycle, leading to matting and knotting of the fibers.

Appropriate Temperature and Detergent to Use

When machine washing a sheepskin rug, it is important to choose the right temperature and detergent.

For best results, use cold water and a mild, color-safe detergent. Using hot water or a harsh detergent can damage the rug.

Also, avoid using fabric softeners, as they can cause the rug to become matted.

To prevent tangling and bunching, make sure the rug is evenly distributed in the machine. Additionally, use a gentle cycle and select a low spin speed to avoid damaging the rug.

Finally, avoid using too much detergent as this can leave residue on the rug.

Tumble Drying a Sheepskin Rug

Although it is technically possible to tumble dry a sheepskin rug, it is not necessarily the safest option.

First, you’ll want to make sure your sheepskin rug is properly cleaned and free of any dirt or debris. This can be done with a vacuum or a mild detergent and a soft cloth.

Once your rug is clean and dry, you can then place it in the dryer on the lowest setting. You’ll want to use a gentle cycle and low heat, and add a few tennis balls to help fluff the rug as it dries.

You should also check the rug periodically during the drying process to make sure it doesn’t get too hot or dry out too quickly.

Again, it’s best to avoid tumble drying altogether and allow the rug to naturally air dry if possible.

Hand Washing a Sheepskin Rug

This method is easy and doesn’t require any special equipment or detergents. It is important to be gentle and not to use abrasive materials that could damage the rug. Instead, try using a soft, damp cloth.

Here is what you need to do to hand wash your sheepskin rug:

  1. Fill a basin or bathtub with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild soap or detergent specifically designed or safe for sheepskin and wool. Avoid using hot water or harsh chemicals, as they can cause shrinkage, matting, and discoloration.

  2. Submerge the rug in the water and gently agitate it, being careful not to scrub or rub too hard. Allow the rug to soak for about 10-15 minutes.

  3. Rinse the rug thoroughly with clean, cool water to remove all traces of detergent. Avoid wringing or twisting the rug, as this can cause the fibers to stretch and lose their shape.

  4. Gently squeeze out excess water from the rug, but avoid wringing or twisting.

  5. Lay the rug flat on a clean, dry surface and reshape it to its original form. Avoid exposing the rug to direct sunlight or heat sources, as this can cause discoloration.

  6. Allow the rug to air dry completely, which can take up to 24 hours. Fluff the rug regularly to help maintain its shape and texture.

Stains on a Sheepskin Rug

Common Causes of Stains

Common causes of stains on sheepskin rugs include dirt, pet hair, pet messes, food and drink spills, and general wear and tear.

Dirt and pet hair can easily become trapped in the fibers of the rug, which can lead to discoloration and staining over time.

Pet messes, such as urine and vomit, can also cause staining if they are not immediately cleaned up.

Food and drink spills can quickly soak into the rug, leaving a lasting stain.

Lastly, general wear and tear, such as walking on the rug with shoes on, can cause staining and damage.

Spot Cleaning With Paper Towels and Warm Water

Start by lightly dabbing the rug with the damp paper towel. Doing this a few times should remove most of the dirt and grime.

If you have any particularly stubborn stains, try mixing a few drops of mild detergent with the warm water, and gently rub the stain with a paper towel.

After you’ve spot cleaned the rug, make sure to rinse it with clean water and allow it to air-dry.

Protecting Your Sheepskin Rug from UV Rays

Protecting your sheepskin rug from UV rays is an important part of keeping it looking beautiful for years to come.

Unfortunately, sheepskin rugs are vulnerable to the damaging effects of UV rays, which can cause fading and discoloration over time.

Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to keep your rug looking its best.

  • The first step for keeping your sheepskin rug in great condition is to keep it away from direct sunlight. If you can, try to keep it in a room with plenty of curtains or blinds that can be closed when the sun is at its brightest. If this isn’t an option, try to place your sheepskin rug in an area that receives only indirect sunlight, like a hallway or an area with furniture blocking most of the sunlight.

  • You should also try to rotate the rug every so often to ensure it’s getting an even amount of wear.

  • Place the rug in a well-ventilated room: UV rays can also cause damage when they are reflected off of surfaces like walls and floors. To reduce the risk of damage from reflected UV rays, place your sheepskin rug in a well-ventilated room with good air circulation.

Dry Cleaning a Sheepskin Rug

While dry cleaning is the most effective way to clean a sheepskin rug, it is also the most expensive option.

The best way to dry clean a sheepskin rug is to send it to a professional cleaner who specializes in this type of cleaning. They will be able to use special cleaning products and techniques to ensure that the rug is properly and safely cleaned.

Pros and Cons of Dry Cleaning


  • Effective removal of dirt and stains: Dry cleaning is an effective method for removing dirt, dust, and stains from a sheepskin rug. This method can help keep the rug looking clean and fresh for longer.

  • Gentle cleaning process: Dry cleaning is a gentler cleaning process compared to other methods, such as hand washing or machine washing, which can be too harsh for delicate sheepskin fibers.

  • Maintains the texture and softness of the rug: Dry cleaning is designed to maintain the texture and softness of the sheepskin fibers, ensuring that the rug remains soft and plush after cleaning.

  • Preserves the natural oils of the sheepskin: Dry cleaning helps to preserve the natural oils of the sheepskin fibers, keeping the rug looking and feeling healthy.


  • Can be expensive: Dry cleaning a sheepskin rug can be more expensive compared to other cleaning methods, especially if the rug is large or difficult to clean.

  • Not suitable for all types of stains: Some stains may not be effectively removed through dry cleaning, and may require additional cleaning methods, such as hand washing or spot cleaning.

Whether you choose to machine wash, hand wash, or dry clean your rug, it’s important to consider the fibers and materials used in the product to ensure that you are using the right cleaning method.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can keep your sheepskin rug looking its best for years to come. It’s also important to protect the rug from UV rays and vacuum and air dry it regularly to keep it free of dirt and dust.

With proper sheepskin rug care, your rug will remain soft, fluffy, and comfortable, adding a touch of luxury and comfort to any room in your home.

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