How do I clean a sheepskin?
August 1, 2008 9:05 AM   Subscribe

How do I clean a sheepskin?

Simple question... any one with any experience washing a genuine sheepskin with longish fur on it? Is there a preferrable method? Will it dread up on me? Hot or Cold? Detergent?

Thanks in advance.
posted by vermontlife to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I ruined my sheepskin rug recently by trying to wash it myself in my tub with detergent (a recommendation I found, of course, on the internet). It dreaded up completely. Just wanted to throw that out there.
posted by Shebear at 9:16 AM on August 1, 2008

I'm very pro-at-home-cleaning, but a professional with experience is the best thing for shearling with long locks. You can wash wool, and you can clean leather, but doing both at once is difficult at home. Soaking with a gentle cleanser and no agitation, as you would do for the locks themselves, will spoil the leather. The chemicals you can use to clean the leather could damage the wool.

A professional will recondition the leather, might add oils back to the locks, remove stains, and comb everything out, sometimes by hand. Don't take it to your regular dry cleaner - take it to a furrier or a good department store instead.

But what kind of soil are we talking? If it's light stains or spots on the wool side, spot-shampoo with a gentle wool rinse or clear baby shampoo, air-dry, and comb with a wide-tooth steel comb. If it's spots on the suede side, there are at-home chemicals and things you can use. If it's ground-in, very old, or allover dirt, yeah, a pro is the way to go.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:24 AM on August 1, 2008

Woolskin Sheepskin Shampoo and Woolwash came with my sheepskin rug. There are instructions on the back for both machine and hand-washing.
posted by cocoagirl at 9:35 AM on August 1, 2008

peachfuzz has it. Spot clean hair and suede with appropriate products. Sometimes to eliminate a general greasy appearance (my dog likes to sleep on a white sheepskin) I work in some dry, powdered cornstarch and vacuum to restore the fluff. Test in an inconspicuous place, in case your sheepskin is so dirty than cornstarch won't help.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:28 AM on August 1, 2008

Response by poster: The sheepskin is dirty from the dog. He found and loved it at a young age. He doesn't mind the dirt, but I thought I'd prolong the life of the thing with some cleaning. I don't really want to pay for a professional to clean my dogs bed. And I don't want to use chemicals either. thanks for the suggestions but it all seems like too much work. I was hoping for a "Oh just pop it in the washer" kind of answer.
posted by vermontlife at 11:20 AM on August 1, 2008

Eucalan and then get ready for a lot of brushing afterwards. A wire-bristle pet brush is nice if you have one handy. Some basic washing instructions are here. Don't expect it to look brand-new, but they're certainly washable; mine, marketed for babies, suggested monthly laundering.
posted by kmennie at 12:44 PM on August 1, 2008

I use a doubled sheepskin cut in the shape of a saddle pad under my saddle and directly on my horse's back. It gets very dirty. I've had great luck with Melp sheepskin cleaner. I use the 'wool' setting on my front-loading washing machine and set the spin to 'gentle'. Dry flat. Then I use a rake-like dog brush/comb thing (the kind with the metal tines) to comb out the nap once it's dry.

The Melp is expensive but it has some kind of lanolin or fat in it that is melted in the heat of the washer and restores the moisture to the pelt. It's the only thing I've ever used that hasn't completely dried out my sheepskins.
posted by weezetr at 1:15 PM on August 1, 2008

I have two, although I think one of them might be some kind of alpaca/lama kinda thing? I just use a cheap and simple shampoo and conditioner on them. COLD water (in the bottom of the bath or shower) and just like with other wool stuff I don't scrub at it or anything and just kind of push the water/lather through with my hands. The conditioner makes all these little crinkles and curls show up, it's pretty cute. I run it over with a wide tooth comb. Rinse thoroughly roll and squish the water out a few times then dry flat (or on a slant). I think they might benefit from a bit of leather nourisher on the underside so I was going to try that next time I clean them? Lanolin is what would normally keep it all nice but it's pretty greasy and might just attract dirt? ...Do Not throw it in the washing machine!
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 5:22 PM on August 1, 2008

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