How To Wash A Sheepskin (it’s easier than you think).

If you can touch it with your hands then it’s cool enough for your sheepskins.

Sheepskins are fully machine washable and easy to dry at 30 degrees.

Whenever your Dartmoor sheepskin gets in a bit of a state just machine wash at 30 degrees (or lower) & tumble on a low heat, or dry on a heated rail, shaking it out now and then.

Our sheepskins are machine washable at 30 degrees Celsius and can be tumble dried at the same temperature. Wash a sheepskin on its own in a normal washing machine with your usual washing powder. Afterwards, tumble dry at a low temperature. Give it a brush with a wide-toothed comb or pet brush and your sheepskin will come up like new. A tumble dryer can leave the skin a little stiff and needing a good rub and a shake out. If you have sufficient dry weather and can comit to air drying, so much the better!

Tips for perfect cleaning and care of sheepskins:

  1. Set the washing machine at a low temperature – 30°C or lower. Your machine might have a WOOL setting which will work well (sheepskins are literally made of wool).
  2. Use a small amount of Biological or Non-Biological Washing Powder (all work at this temperature).
  3. Avoid additives like Fabric Softeners or Stain Removers, Bleaches or Whiteners. These will negatively affect the way natural hollow sheepskin fibers behave with regard humidity and heat.
  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 low.
  5. Shake the sheepskin out and when dry give it a little work with a wide toothed comb.

When you first get a sheepskin you tend to show it special treatment. There’s something so obviously luxurious about it that makes you take extra special care. But soon enough the cat has slept on it, the kids have used it as a cape and it’s twice been a cushion in the garden. Soon enough, it needs a wash. People worry about how to wash a sheepskin because they don’t want to ruin the wool fibres or damage the tanned hide.

The solution is simple – keep the temperature low.

Image with sheepskin washing instructions

The tanning process stabilises the leather and it comes through the wash surprisingly unaffected. In fact, after a wash and dry a sheepskin usually comes up like new.

Dry it, don’t cook it!

The most important thing is temperature, too hot and the wool fibres will distort. Too cold is fine for the sheepskin but a biological washing powder needs a bit of warmth to encourage the enzymes to digest more dirt.

Other than heat distortion the sheepskin is pretty hardcore. We recommend them for motorcycle seat covers, for example. A use in which you can expect to see very hard wear, ground-on dirt and grease, and regular washing and drying. In this case the sheepskin will wear out quicker, but there’s no reason it can’t perform like new after each wash. Just remember to give it a wash in good time before you set off.

Drying Without a Machine

As it dries the fibres will separate and become more ‘fluffy’
  • Place sheepskin on radiator*
  • Move it frequently “shake it out”
  • Increase airflow

Timing is an issue. A sheepskin should be dried within a reasonable time. A soggy sheepskin is a sorry thing and should be dealt with right away. Don’t be tempted to overheat it because again you may distort the fibres. A radiator should be OK. Make a habit of rotating the fir and giving it a shake out each time you happen to pass. *If your radiator is too hot for your hand, then it is too hot for a sheepskin. Put the sheepskin over the back of a chair next to the radiator instead. Or lay it in the sun, alternating face up and face down. Same limits on heat apply.

We recommended sheepskins for all sorts, from motorbike seat covers to baby changing mats. The reason we can do this is because no matter what you throw at them, sheepskins always seem to be able to bounce back. Take a look at our range of sheepskins.

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8 thoughts on “How To Wash A Sheepskin (it’s easier than you think).”

  1. I have two sheepskins bought in Australia in the 1970’s. They were in store for 26+years and have been using as bedroom floor rug and an armchair cover for last four years.
    I thought they were beyond help as tuffs are beginning to come away from the skin and somewhat matted.
    Whilst checking how to dispose of them saw your site and thought it worth asking. I also concerned as to the weight when wet in a washing machine.

    • Hi Janine, firstly your sheepskins have aged and lost much of their elasticity during the decade of storage. Sheepskins in any state of repair will shed hair, but this will be a bigger issue for your skins. The matting itself is not a problem – in fact brushed or unbrushed is usually a style choice, but it doesn’t look like you will have this decision to make.
      It may not be the advice you might want… But my feeling is that your sheepskins are ready for the dogs bed out in the back porch, or sadly the compost heap!
      -Thank you for getting in touch (and I sincerely hope you prove me wrong 😉 -Chris

  2. Hello, hope you’re all keeping safe and well.
    I have a sheep skin coat….It Stinks!….a distinctive old smell?..think this coat is from the 90s? It’s in excellent condition, with a slight bell shape, flare cut and if that smell is moth balls, can I machine wash it like the rugs?
    I enquired and was told by Johnson’s dry cleaners, that mothball smells are permanent. Is this true?

    Kind regards and take care, donna

      • Hi Kaylee, I really appreciate your reply because I had missed Donna’s question (since January!!).

        I’ve now replied to Donna, unfortunately I have to agree with the dry cleaners…. there’s little hope of removing those smells.

    • I wish I could give you more hope than the dry cleaners.. Sadly I can’t. Mothballs and mildew are smells that won’t leave easily – and any small trace of them is instantly recognisable. I remember my old Scout Master told us that if you do pack a tent away wet and fail to dry it in time, then those types of smells can be reduced and mitigated with Milton fluid. He said it was the only thing that came remotely close to working, and its success was limited.
      I’ve never tried it, and wish you every success.
      When you get a sheepskin wet, it must be dried before biological activity has time to develop.

      Donna, may I also just say sorry for my exceptionally late reply! In the flurry of modern communication I missed this from you months ago – here’s hoping it’s all come good already.

  3. I have had good luck with citrus peels (fresh) as the pith is a very good absorbent and have had great luck with odors such as mold and mildew. Peel grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes and leave the peels inside and out. It works great with old autos that have been left in fields and barns for many years. I hope it works for mothballs as well.
    Mothballs are extremely toxic, so beware


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