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  • How to Clean a Cowhide Rug

    January 23, 2024

    Cowhide rugs are incredibly durable, resistant to stains, and surprisingly easy to clean and care for. Light cleaning and removing set-in stains are simple with just a few household items such as dish soap, peroxide, and cornstarch and using a vacuum or utensil to aid you. Easily maintain your cowhide rug with regular vacuuming or sweeping to remove debris and enjoy your investment for a long time!

    Because it is protein fiber—or hair, essentially—and quite resistant to soiling, cowhide rugs are perfect for areas in your home that are high-traffic or where spills frequently occur, because they are simple to clean and maintain, unlike most other floor coverings.

    Regular Maintenance

    • Shake, brush, sweep, or vacuum your cowhide rug to remove soils and allergens like dust, dirt, dander, pollen, and hair from the fibers. When vacuuming, use the suction only. Certain brush attachments can tear the hair out of the rug’s back and cause bald spots. A nozzle or upholstery attachment on your vacuum should be fine. Just remember to move in the direction of the hair growth.

    Light Cleaning

    • First, vacuum or brush your rug out to free it from any dirt, debris, or allergens.
    • Fill a bowl with 100 mL of water, then add in about 2-3 drops of dish soap into the water. Stir it around with a sponge.
    • After dipping your sponge in the cleaning solution, wipe down the rug, careful not to expose it to too much excess water, which can damage the back of your rug by stretching it or cause it to become misshapen.
    • Using the detail nozzle of a wet/dry vacuum, or shop-vac, as it’s commonly known as, vacuum up the slurry. If you don’t have a shop-vac, don’t worry! You can use a towel to dry it off. So simple!

    Stain Removal

    • To remove a stain from your cowhide rug, it’s best to treat it quickly! Start by blotting up as much of the liquid as possible using paper towels or a clean rag. If there are solids, pick them up and dispose of them using paper towels. If the solids have dried up, use the edge of a butter knife or spoon to gently scrape them out of the rug’s fibers.
    • Add a small amount of mild soap to a damp cloth and wipe over the area, working in the direction of the hair growth. You can also use baby shampoo, clarifying shampoo, or a foaming hand soap.
    • Once the stain has been removed, rinse the cloth in clean water and wipe the spot in the direction of growth. This helps get rid of any residual soap.

    Removing Grease Stains

    • If the stain is fresh, blot up as much of the oil or grease as possible with paper towels.
    • Cover the oil or grease-stained area with a generous amount of cornstarch so that it almost forms a hill over the spot. Allow the cornstarch to sit for several hours, or even overnight. The cornstarch will absorb the grease.
    • After it’s sat for a while, vacuum the cornstarch.
    • If the stain persists, repeat the process.

    Removing Pet Urine Stains and Odor

    • Pet urine can chemically burn your rug fibers as it denatures and can yellow the back of the leather, so it is important to treat urine stains properly.
    • Start by adding about 50 mL of peroxide into your dish soap cleaning solution. Typically, peroxide will bleach. However, the fibers in cowhide rugs are very stable, so the peroxide shouldn’t bleach your rug. If you’re not sure, test it out on an inconspicuous area of the rug first.
    • Using a sponge, apply a liberal amount of the solution onto the front and back of your rug, brushing with the grain of the hide. This will neutralize the urine, specifically the odor.
    • Let the solution sit on both sides of the rug for 20 minutes.
    • When time is up, use your wet/dry vacuum, or shop-vac, to suck out the excess solution from both sides of the rug. You can also towel it dry if you don’t have a shop-vac.
    • Let the rug air dry, preferably by hanging it up, if possible.
    • Extra tip: If your cowhide rug reeks of a strong cigarette odor, include some rubbing alcohol in that same cleaning solution. This will help remove any tar residue.

    That’s all there is to cleaning and maintaining a cowhide rug. The cleaning products are easy to find for low prices in most grocery or dollar stores. Even the shop-vac is sold at ridiculously low prices in some chain retail stores!

    Never fret about how to clean or remove stains from your precious cowhide rug again. With this simple instruction list, your rug will be protected and proofed from stains and allergens, and feeling just as soft and looking just as new as the day you got it!  

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