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How to wash a sheepskin

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Here at Dartmoor Sheepskins we feel that life is for living, and as such you may well find yourself needing to clean your well-used sheepskin. This is a quick guide on how to wash a sheepskin.

We often get asked how to wash a sheepskins, is it even possible? The good news is that you can wash a sheepskin in the washing machine if you follow these simple rules.

How to wash a sheepskin in a washing machine:

  1. To wash a sheepskin, set the washing machine at a low temperature – 30°C or lower. Your machine might have a WOOL setting, this will work well.
  2. Use a small amount of Biological or Non-Biological Washing Powder.
  3. Avoid additives like Fabric Softeners or Stain Removers.
  4. Tumble Dry on a Low Heat to prevent the wool becoming distorted, again if your machine has a wool setting this should work well – don’t worry if not, just keep the temperature down.
  5. Shake the sheepskin out when dry, and enjoy!

Please Note:

This information does not imply any guarantee, we only guarantee the quality of sheepskins we supply ourselves. Inferior sheepskins may have thin or poorly tanned hide, and as such may deteriorate over several washes, or even in just one wash. The sheepskins we supply will retain quality over many years, and can be washed using this method many times. We even used one as a baby changing mat, and washed it very regularly, it has lasted for years. As with many things in life, the better the quality you start with, the better the result you end up with.


Photo by Mats Hagwell under Creative Common licence

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Are Sheepskins Ethical?

dartmoor sheep in the wild

Are sheepskins ethical? Do sheep die to make sheepskins?

Of the sheep that we eat in the UK, we tan just 0.45% of the sheepskin – less the one in two hundred. Most sheepskins are regarded as a waste product of the meat industry. 

“In 2005 [we ate] 14.1million lambs (+ 2.2million ewes and rams) Only 60,000 UK skins p.a. are processed by the remaining UK tanning sector, less than 0.45% of the total”2015 Sheep Industry Report

The current situation is a complete reversal of history. Go back less than two decades and wool was the primary reason for sheep farming. In 2001 the ratio changed in favour of meat – a change that would continue to this day.

Humans have been tanning animal hides for thousands of years. Today only a tiny percentage of hides go through the tanning process. The process that began with early man preserving the skins of the hunt has come along way. The art of creating soft, lasting hides has been passed down the generations.

Sadly, much of the byproduct of the meat industry now goes to waste. Very few tanners still exist in the U.K. All our sheepskins come from UK flocks (with higher welfare standards than much of the world) Most come from sheep that have lived on Dartmoor. Check out our shop and see for yourself, none of our sheepskins were produced in a mechanical fashion, all are unique.

In conclusion, I’ve never heard of a sheep being killed to make sheepskin. Less than half of one percent of the sheep we farm for meat will be processed into sheepskin. I, for one, think this is a shame.


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Why do we sell sheepskins?

Child sleeping on sheepskin

When our daughter was no bigger than a scan photo we bought our first sheepskin. We went from the hospital directly to get a pure cream medium length sheepskin for our unborn baby to sleep on.

The luxury of sheepskin has always made me feel safe, it’s always been reassuring to me. After a hard day you can rest your baby on a sheepskin and you’ll know it’ll feel loved. No matter how cruel the world can seem, you can always return home and rest your head in utter luxury.

So when our tiny little girl was born, and even tiny nappies seemed rough on her delicate skin, we laid her on the very thing that felt safest, our first sheepskin.

That skin served us well, it’s been through the wash countless times, every time it’s a little surprise to tumble dry the thing and find it like new… Well, nearly new (our little girl is now eighteen).

We now have many sheepskins in our lives, all of them special. But that first cream coloured sheepskin will always feel extra special. It’s served as baby bed, changing mat, seat cover for Nan, it was a pet bed for a while, but after a wash it always bounces back like new.

This is why we started Dartmoor Sheepskins, only with our company each sheepskin is unique – we don’t sell standard anything, each skin is personally selected, we only stock sheepskins that we would want to live with ourselves. Each time we sell a sheepskin, we do so knowing it can do as much for you as our first sheepskin has done for us. And when you come home from a hard day, I know that resting your head on one of our skins will give comfort and reassurance.