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And when washed in the right way, they can look like new again!
It's true, let's show you how easy sheepskins are to wash if you have the right tools, woolwash shampoo and knowledge. But first we recommend you read about what you need to know BEFORE you wash a sheepskin rug.
I recently washed my two natural ivory double long-wool sheepskin rugs that I used beside our bed, and are about five years old.
This is what my sheepskin looked like before washing. It was dirty, and it looked a bit grey when it should be ivory/off-white.
The wool was knotted & matted and it had things stuck in it.
Here's a pro tip to make the whole process much easier.
I gave my sheepskin a good brush, with a proper sheepskin wool carding brush.
This gets out as many knots as possible before the sheepskin got wet, so that the wool did not matte up even more during the washing process.
Don't worry if wool comes out into the carding brush, this is normal. Empty the brush a few times and brush until the wool is mostly tangle free and fluffy.
I washed the double sheepskins in a bath using lukewarm water (38°C/100°F) and using a small amount of the Gorgeous Creatures sheepskin wool wash which is a non-ionic detergent and safe to wash leather.
Single or double sheepskins can also be washed on a gentle wool cycle in a washing machine if you don't want to hand wash.
But I like the control that hand-washing gives me. I like to see how dirty the water becomes. And how clear the rinse water is to know that it's all clean.
This is one of the most important things to remember.
Please ONLY use detergents that are non-alkaline, non-iconic, and do not contain any biological enzymes or softeners. Also, avoid added fragrances.
DO NOT use Woolite or laundry detergents such as Tide, or you will damage the sheepskin leather.
DO NOT use a regular wool wash. This would be OK on wool alone but is NOT safe for leather.
The Gorgeous Creatures sheepskin wool wash is formulated to be safe to use on both the wool and the leather.
This is a very important point of difference, as most normal wool washes will damage the sheepskin leather and older sheepskins might fall apart if you use the wrong type of soap or detergent.
Another great pro tip is...
Don’t agitate or massage the sheepskin wool too much while washing; you just want a gentle action of water moving through the wool to dislodge dirt particles. But not so much movement that the wool mattes up like felt.
Swish the water gently for about 5 minutes. I let the sheepskin soak for 10 minutes and then swished around again for 5 minutes.
Release the dirty water and refill the bath with fresh cold or warm water to rinse the last soap and dirt away.
Repeat the rinse if needed until the water stays mostly clear. A double or triple deep rinse is recommended.
The next thing that you do is...
Roll the sheepskin rug up and gently squeeze out as much water as you can. Then let the skin drain for about 30 minutes in the bath or tub.
Now transfer to a washing machine, to spin out excess water. Use a low spin if your machine allows.
I use a bucket or washing basket to make the transfer. The leather can be more fragile while wet, and can sometimes tear from its own weight, so be very careful.
Spin out most of the excess water gently on a slow spin. You could use a laundromat to spin out the excess water for larger sheepskins. But make sure the spin is slower than normal.
So what are the right tools to wash a sheepskin rug? Our Gorgeous Creatures woolskin wash and carding brush kit of course!
Another piece of advice worth sharing with you.
Dyed colour sheepskins should be dry cleaned, because washing will most likely remove too much dye colouring, or make the colours run. And you may have an unexpected reasction, between the dye and the cleaning product.
If you do wash a dyed sheepskin rug use a teaspoon of iodized table salt in the water to help fix the dye, and to stop too much washing out. This is done at your own risk as colour change is possible.
Our important disclaimer and words of warning.
All sheepskin washing using these instructions is done at your own risk. We have no way of knowing how your sheepskin was tanned or how old it is. Or if it has been exposed to excessive UV sunlight which can weaken and perish the leather fibers.
We don't recommend that you wash a sheepskin rug if it is more than 10 years old. It might fall apart if it is perished and you won't know until you try. If your sheepskin has yellowed with age this is sun damage or oxidization and washing will not remove the yellow colour.
We do recommend our non-ionic sheepskin wool wash to wash all sheepskin rugs (10 years old or younger), sheepskin pet beds, sheepskin UGG boots, and our wool wash is also great for any woolen blankets, wool throws, or any knitted garments.
This special Gorgeous Creatures wool wash is safe for the wool AND the leather which is what makes it unique.
This wool fleece & natural fibre shampoo is so versatile it can be used for a wide range of purposes.
Safely wash sheepskin & lambskin rugs (safe for the leather), baby Lambie rugs, UGG boots, sheepskin wool underlays, cashmere, mohair, angora, alpaca or any type of wool blankets, all woolen garments and knitwear.
Visit Gorgeous Creatures while in the Hawkes Bay
8 Otatara Rd, Taradale, Napier 4112 (by appointment please call or text first)
Kirsty Mason Ph 027 222 6230