Caring for animal hides

Animal hides (hair-on) are tanned skins in their natural shape and colouring. They are tough and durable but they also require some care and maintenance to maintain their look and feel. Most commonly used in a domestic environment, animal hides can be used for a multitude of purposes including floor or chair coverings, bed liners, wall displays or infant rugs.

 

The information below is designed to be used for animal hides supplied by Leather & Trading and considers the tanning processes used. While most of the information is generic, the chemicals and methods used in tanning, as well as the particular animal or breed, can result in some slight changes needed for the best care of a particular hide. If your hide has been purchased from another supplier, you should seek specific care details directly from them.

 

Cow and calf hide

 

Cow hides are most popular as floor coverings in a domestic environment and have a natural grip on the underside of the hide to prevent slipping and moving. On a tile, vinyl or wooden surface, small sticky dots on the underside of the hide will also keep to keep it in place and prevent the edges lifting. Cow hides should not be used as a floor covering in wet areas or areas with direct sun or concentrated heat. In a traffic area, it is unavoidable that a hide mat will show wear although rotating the hide occasionally will help to even out wear and traffic marks.

 

To keep your cow hide clean and free of dirt and dust build-up, simply include your cow hide as part of your normal domestic cleaning routine. Cow hides can be vacuumed as part of your normal vacuuming cycle and a shake-out outside will also help to loosen any particles from the hairs. Brushing the hide with a hard plastic brush, in the direction of the hair, will help keep the hairs soft and also loosen small dust and dirt particles from the hairs.

 

Spills should be treated immediately while the liquid is pooled on the surface of the hair. Spills left to sit on the hide will eventually be absorbed into the leather and may not be able to be removed. Small spills and light soiling can be treated with a mild, non-alkaline soapy solution (eg. shampoo and water), wiping in the direction of the hair. Avoid soaking the hide. Heavy stains such as wine, coffee, tea, juice and bodily fluids should be soaked up immediately with a paper towel and sponge, scrape any solid matter off the hide, don’t rub. Wipe the stain with a damp cloth and a mild soapy solution to remove the excess fluid then rub vigorously to release the deep staining.

 

You can balance the PH levels of your hide and help eliminate unpleasant odours by wiping over your hide with a cloth damped in a solution of 5% vinegar and 95% water.

 

Cow hides can not be hand or machine washed or dry cleaned. You should avoid leaving your cow hide in exposed sunlight or concentrated heat which can warp or shrink the hide or cause the edges to roll up. Cow hides can be stored folded, any creases will relax within a few days after unfolding.

 

Cow Patch Rugs

 

Cow Patch Rugs are made up of a patchwork of various cow hides, usually with a hide border and sometimes lacework edging.

 

Patch Rugs can be treated in much the same way as cow hides although additional attention should be paid to seams and joins during vacuuming. If the Patch Rug is used as a floor covering, lacework edging can loosen on occasion especially if in a traffic area. If this occurs, simply relace and hold the end in place with a dab of glue or a few small stitches. It is best to do this as soon as possible to avoid ripping or damaging the lace.

 

Sheepskin

 

Sheepskin is available in longwool, shortwool, medical grade, sanitised, natural and trimmed. No matter what sheepskin you have, its care follows a few basic principles. If you have a medical grade or sanitised sheepskin, you should refer to the manufacturer’s care instructions in addition to the information on this website. If you have a patchwork or decorative sheepskin rug, you should follow the manufacturer’s specific care instructions only.

 

Sheepskin should be kept away from direct sunlight or concentrated heat and damp or wet environments. Extreme heat or moisture can affect both the leather pelt and the look of the fibres.

 

A regular shake-out of the sheepskin will loosen dust and dirt particles from wool fibres. Brushing the fibres with a wire brush will restore the fullness of the coat and assist in maintaining the look of the fibres. Longwool sheepskins are best not vacuumed as this can cause damage to the wool fibres.

 

Small spills and light soiling can be sponged off your sheepskin with a damp cloth and mild detergent. For heavy stains or soiling, dry cleaning is recommended. Sheepskins can be machine washed on a gentle cycle in warm water (38°C) using a mild wool detergent. To dry, lay the sheepskin flat, out of sunlight or concentrated heat and stretch to shape as it dries. Do not tumble dry. It is likely that the fibres will curl as the sheepskin dries, this is the fibres returning to their natural state. To restore the look of a longwool pile, brush the fibres with a wire brush when wet and again once dry.

 

If you are using your sheepskin as a floor covering, turning it occasionally will encourage even wearing of the fibres and reduce the impact of traffic, although you should expect a sheepskin to show signs of wear.

 

Kangaroo Skin

 

We stock kangaroo skins in greys and reds and usually include the tail. The pelt of a kangaroo skin is very strong leather (estimated at 6 times the strength of cow leather). If necessary, small sticky dots can be placed on the underside of the skin to help keep the edges from lifting or moving. If used as a floor covering in a traffic area, kangaroo skin will show evidence of wear although rotating the skin occasionally will help to reduce the extent of wear.

 

Kangaroo skin is best cleaned by giving it a shake-out outside or a brush with a hard plastic brush. Hair length can be quite different on particular parts of the skin and this should be considered when cleaning as areas with longer hair may require extra attention or may contain a larger build up of dust or dirt.

 

Kangaroo skins should not be hand or machined washed or soaked in any way. Small spills and light soiling can be sponged off your kangaroo skin with a damp cloth and mild soapy solution (eg. shampoo and water solution). For all other cleaning requirements, contact a specialist fur dry-cleaner. If your kangaroo skin does become wet, dry naturally lying flat out of direct sunlight or concentrated heat. Throughout the drying process, you may need to gently pull the skin into shape.

 

Goat Skin

 

Goat skin has a coarser hair than that found on many other animal hides. Goat skin care is consistent with cow hide care and the cow hide care instructions above can be followed.

 

If vacuuming a goat skin, be aware of the longer hair found around the legs, belly and spine. While this longer hair can harbour large amounts of dust and dirt, vacuuming may cause damage to the hair fibres.

 

Fox Skin

 

Our fox skins are Australian Red Fox from the South Eastern Australia. Fox skins are commonly used as lounge or chair throws, display pieces or crafted into luxury clothing and accessories or household furnishings such as throw cushions, blankets or floor rugs.

 

Fox skin is best cleaned by giving it a shake-out outside or a brush with a wire tooth brush.

As fox fur is a fine, soft hair that can be damaged by rough cleaning methods, all cleaning should be done gently and with the direction of the hair.

 

Fox skin should not be soaked with water or machine washed. It should only be dry-cleaned by a specialist fur dry-cleaner. If your fox skin does become wet, dry naturally lying flat out of direct sunlight or concentrated heat. Throughout the drying process, you may need to gently pull the skin into shape.