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How to clean rugs: cleaning sheepskin, shaggy ,and wool rugs

Rugs make a cosy addition to any room! Take care of yours properly with these handy tips on how to maintain and clean sheepskin, shaggy and wool rugs.


By Cleanipedia Team

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Cleaning different types of rug requires different strategies and products. This article will show you how to clean a sheepskin rug, a shaggy rug, and a wool rug, so your floors at home can continue to look spotless and fresh, no matter what kind of rugs you have!

For all the options below, remember to defer to any product label when it comes to instructions for use, and to spot test a small, unnoticeable area of your rug before application.

Not all rugs are quite as they appear – some ‘sheepskin’ rugs, for example, may in fact be entirely synthetic. That’s why the most important piece of advice on washing sheepskin, shag pile, or wool rugs we can give you is to always check the care labels before you start.

How to Clean a Sheepskin Rug

Sheepskin rugs can be taken to the dry cleaners, but this can be expensive. In any case, nearly all natural (un-dyed) sheepskin rugs can be hand washed gently at home. Here’s a quick guide:

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  • Fill a bathtub or tub with cool or lukewarm water. Never use hot water, as it will cause your sheepskin rug to shrink.

  • Add a specialist sheepskin and wool detergent. A standard wool detergent may cause damage, so make sure it is designed for sheepskin. The detergent must be non-alkaline, with no biological enzymes. Fabric softeners are a no-no, too. Read the directions on the label, and test any product in a small area before using.

  • Place the sheepskin in the tub and gently swish it around in the sudsy water to loosen any dirt particles for up to five minutes.

How to clean rugs: cleaning sheepskin, shaggy ,and wool rugs
  • Squeeze the sheepskin out, and rinse it twice in cold water to remove all detergent.

  • Once it’s been rinsed, roll up the sheepskin and squeeze it dry. You may also want to pat it with clean towels or sponges to absorb any remaining moisture.

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How to clean rugs: cleaning sheepskin, shaggy ,and wool rugs
  • Lay the rug out on a clean towel to air dry. Pull the leather into shape, keeping it flat, and make sure the sheepskin dries in a cool, shaded place, away from direct sunlight or heat (which can cause shrinkage).

How to clean rugs: cleaning sheepskin, shaggy ,and wool rugs
  • Using a metal bristled sheepskin brush, fluff the wool gently while still damp. Brush it once again, while drying, and do a final brush after it’s dried – your sheepskin will return to its natural fluffiness!

How to Clean a Shaggy Rug

Shag rugs have a long, floppy pile, which is great fun to lie on, but a little daunting to wash. If you’re wondering how to clean shag rug fibres cheaply, don’t worry: they’re also possible to wash at home, as long as you take great care. Just be sure to check your rug care tags first.

  • Take your shag rug outside and shake off any loose dirt.

  • Vacuum your rug carefully. Test your vacuum’s “High Pile” carpet setting, to see if that does not suck up the rug threads. Otherwise, use an upholstery attachment to gently vacuum between the rows of thread on your rug.

  • You can use a dry carpet shampoo, which generally comes in powder form. Sprinkle this on, and follow the shampoo instructions. This should involve working the shampoo into the carpet, waiting an hour or so, and gently vacuuming up the granules.

For a thorough clean:

  • Shag rugs are best washed with a steam cleaner, which you will have to hire. However, if you want to try hand washing your shag rug instead, fill a bath or washtub with 4 parts cold water and 1 part delicate laundry liquid like Persil. Do not use a fabric softener. The detergent should be non-bio, scent-free, and bleach-free.

How to clean rugs: cleaning sheepskin, shaggy ,and wool rugs
  • Soak and swish the rug in this solution for 20-30 minutes.

  • Then squeeze out the suds and rinse thoroughly in cold water.

  • Squeeze and soak up any excess water, and lay the rug out to air dry in a shaded place. Direct sunlight will cause the colours of your rug to fade.

How to Clean a Wool Rug

Wool rugs are best cleaned professionally, but some homeowners wash them at home to save money. These steps explain how to clean wool rug fibres as safely as possible at home.

For regular cleaning:

  • The best thing you can do is vacuum your wool rugs at least once a week, more often if the rug is in an area you stand or walk a lot. Use an appropriate carpet setting, and vacuum the rug from side to side (widthwise), not from end to end (lengthwise). At least once a year, vacuum the reverse side of the rug, too.

How to clean rugs: cleaning sheepskin, shaggy ,and wool rugs
  • Treat any spills immediately, using a commercial stain remover for wool.

For a thorough clean:

  • Before you clean your rug, take it outdoors, shake or beat out any loose dirt, and vacuum it on both sides.

How to clean rugs: cleaning sheepskin, shaggy ,and wool rugs
  • Set it onto a clean area of pavement, patio, or driveway on a dry day.

How to clean rugs: cleaning sheepskin, shaggy ,and wool rugs
  • Use a garden hose to wet the rug.

How to clean rugs: cleaning sheepskin, shaggy ,and wool rugs
  • Mix a sudsy solution of cold water and wool laundry liquid. The solution should be more diluted than usual.

  • Using a clean sponge or sponge mop, apply the suds to your rug bit by bit.

  • Rinse the rug thoroughly.

  • Squeeze the rug and roll it up with dry towels to soak up as much moisture as possible.

  • Let the rug air dry in a shaded place, away from direct heat or sunlight.

When you suddenly realise how long your rugs have gone without a cleaning, don’t despair. With one simple hour-long wash and one day to dry, you can save on those expensive professional cleaning bills. Sheepskin, shag, or wool – you now know how to keep all sorts of rugs clean and fresh!

Originally published