Shopping Bag

0 items £0.00

View Bag/Checkout >

The Fabulous Fleece Company Blog

How to care for sheepskin rugs: a guide to keeping your sheepskin rug soft and fluffy

I'm asked a lot about the best way to care for your sheepskin and my answer is always the same, try to brush and not wash. Sheepskins were never designed to be washed ‘inside and out’, I only ever advise washing if something untoward has happened apone the sheepskin! The very best way to keep them soft and supple is to simply brush them, we do sell sheepskin brushes at The Fabulous Fleece but if you have a wire dog brush to hand then that will also do the trick.

Try not to wash unless necessary

First and foremost, if you can just spot clean the sheepskin for the spillage or organic stain. Remove the solids and absorb as much of the stain as you can before using a little wool care detergent on the affected wool fibres.Sheepskin is naturally anti-bacterial and has self cleaning powers by retaining a natural oil called lanolin, which resists dirt and grease. Of wool’s three layers, the second has tiny overlapping scales that rub against each other to push off the dirt.The third layer is a protective filmy skin that helps to resist water. The core of each wool fiber - which contains a protein called keratin - can absorb 30% of its weight in moisture vapour without the sheepskin getting or feeling damp.If you really must wash then then the ‘no heat’ rule applies, heat in the washing or drying process will set the skin side of the sheepskin, so it will enter the machine all nice and supple and exit thickened and shrunken, eventually drying hard. Brush out the fleece and remove any solids from the wool fibres. Use a wool wash delicate detergent, or our woolskin shampoo and use a cool wool/delicates cycle in your washing machine. Note that a chemical reaction will also cause the skin to harden. We always recommend using proper wool shampoo as these don't contain any harmful enzymes that could damage the fleece. You only need to use a small amount each time. Some people also swear by adding a tablespoon of glycerine or lanolin to the fabric conditioner drawer to help keep the back nice and supple. You must also be careful on the spin cycle, larger fleeces wet are very heavy and the force of a fast spin may cause the skin to tear so in these cases I would use a laundry bag to guard against tearing. Re shape the sheepskin while wet. Remembering that heat in the drying process can also set the skin, the very best way to dry the sheepskin is outside on the line, preferable on a dry day with a light wind. (Over an aga or heat source may also set the skin).

Furniture placement

Sheepskins are quite tough, they can withstand moving through a hedge so it takes quite a determined effort to damage one! The most delicate are the lambskins as they are from younger animals so much thinner, these are best used for babies as a comforter or bassinet liner, the Tibetan Lambskins with the long silk curl are again quite delicate so not for the floor but to add decoration to a chair or bed. I would also add the Gotlands into that category, not because they are delicate but because of the long curl. If underfoot these do tend to mat and if brushed the curl is separated losing its appeal.

Can you put furniture on a sheepskin rug?

You can place furniture on a sheepskin rug, a lot of our larger bespoke rugs are semi placed under a couch, chair, bed or table and they fair very well. A problem will only occur if you continually drag a heavy piece of furniture over a sheepskin which will eventually damage the skin or the stitching if its made of multiple sheepskins joined.


The best way to care for your sheepskin is to simply brush it. Brushing not only separates the tangles and wool fibres keeping it looking and feeling nice and fluffy but helps bring dust and dirt back to the top of the pile where you can then give it a good shake or even run your vacuum cleaner over the fleece on an upholstery setting.

How do I keep my sheepskin rug soft and fluffy?

Brushing is the key to keeping the wool pile soft and fluffy. Give it a brush to separate the wool fibres and bring any dust and dirt to the surface and then either a vigorous shake outside or vacuum on an upholstery setting to remove the dirt and fluff up the sheepskin pile.

How do you brush a sheepskin rug?

Be methodical and start at one end, you can be quite tough and rake the brush through, start at the wool fibre tips to rake out any tangles and then gradually work into the wool pile, its a bit of a work out but well worth it in the end. I then like to hang the sheepskin outside on the line on a breezy day just to refresh it (Not a damp day, sheepskins are highly absorbent and the skin side will quickly become wet).

How often do you brush a sheepskin rug?

So how often should you brush your sheepskin? The answer is only when its looking tiered. If its started to flatten or mat that's when I would brush, the rest of the time a vigorous shake will suffice.

UV rays

Why do sheepskin rugs turn yellow?

Extreme exposure to sunlight can cause damage to some fibres in the sheepskin causing them to break down which in turn causes yellowing affect, this is very unusual in a natural fleece and more usual with a dyed sheepskin that will often turn blue or green depending on the makeup of the dye. We advise that these skins are not placed in direct sunlight. Yellowing is usually caused by dirt or oils in the fleece and can be avoided with brushing and using your vacuum cleaner to keep the fleece in tip top condition, also mold and mildew can cause this if your fleece has been placed in the damp. We wouldn't advise placing any sheepskin in a damp and unventilated area as they are very absorbent.

How do get a smell out of a sheepskin rug?

If your sheepskin has gained an odour then sprinkling some baking soda on the fleece can sometimes help. Sprinkle deep into the wool fibres and then leave for a day or two, remove by vacuuming and then hang outside in the breeze to refresh. If this fails to remove the odour then you may try washing the sheepskin using a wool detergent and a little glycerin or lanolin in the fabric conditioner drawer of your washing machine to help keep the skin supple. Remembering to wash and dry the sheepskin away from direct heat.

How do I care for my bespoke rug?

Spot clean with woolskin detergent and a damp cloth for any stains, brushing and vacuuming on an upholstery setting for any flattening or matting of the wool fibres. These large rugs can also be hung over a line and thumped with a wooden paddle the old fashioned way to remove any loose dust and dirt, then left outside in a light breeze to refresh.

Sewn skins, or multiple attached sheepskins really shouldn’t be washed. Due to the unstable nature of a sheepskin when washed you cant guarantee that all the sewn skins will react in the same way, also the shear weight of the sheepskin rug when wet in the machine will cause the rug to tear on spinning. We recommend that all the larger sewn rugs be cleaned by a sheepskin specialist.

So in summary the best way to take care of sheepskin rug

The first port of call is to brush your sheepskin with a sheepskin brush when the wool fibre has flattened or started to matt, then shake vigorously outside to remove the loose dust and dirt remembering that you can always vacuum on an upholstery setting. If you keep on top of this then your fleece shall stay nice and fluffy.

For unwanted spills and stains then try to just spot clean stains with a with a damp cloth and then hang outside on a dry day to refresh the sheepskin. If all else fails and you must wash then wash on a cold/cool machine cycle with a wool detergent. Add a little glycerine or lanolin to the fabric conditioner drawer to help keep the back supple and re shape while wet remembering to dry away from direct heat. When its fully dry use a sheepskin brush to separate the wool fibres.

We are always here at The Fabulous Fleece Company to help with any problems so if you are still unsure of how to care for your sheepskin then drop us a line and we will help.

We've been lucky enough to be seen in: