Cowhide rugs have a uniquely natural beautiful and match up well with a number of different decors. The rugs are versatile, hypo-allergenic and are used as a throw, wall hanging or as an actual floor covering. When used as a floor covering, rugs made of cowhide work well in high-traffic areas as the rugs are resistant to stains and highly durable. However, leather does require the occasional cleaning.
Fortunately, cowhide is easy to clean with ordinary household cleaning products. Most stains will wipe easily off cowhide with a damp rag, but no harsh chemicals or any other inorganic compounds should ever be used on cowhide, or damage to the leather will result. Once clean, a cowhide rug should be allowed to dry at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
Cleaning Liquid Spills
Liquids spills, such as coffee, tea, juice, wine and pet urine, on cowhide rugs should be cleaned immediately, before it has a chance to soak into the leather. Soak up as much liquid as possible with a clean absorbent cloth by blotting area until no more moisture is transferred onto the cloth. Next, blot with a damp cloth with a non-alkaline soapy water until the stain is gone. Switch to a clean cloth damped with plain water and blot to remove the cleaning-solution residue. Switch to a clean dry cloth and blot dry.
Unlike plant-based and synthetic fibers, which are influenced less by changes in pH levels, leather relies on its inherent properties for protection, and is therefore more sensitive alkalinity. A solution of five percent white vinegar and 95 percent water is a good secondary choice to non-alkaline soap as it won’t change the pH balance of the leather. Vinegar will also help to remove odors.
Removing Food Stains
Scrape off the majority of a food spill with a stiff-bristled brush, spoon or dull knife, but never use anything with a blunt corner as it can gouge or rip the hide. Always scrape with the hair fibers or with the grain of the leather, to prevent damage. Use a damp cloth with soapy water and blot up any remaining food until the stain is gone. Switch to a clean cloth damped with plain water and then blot dry.
Removing Grease Stains
Removing greasy or oily stains from a cowhide rug requires a similar procedure to the one used for cleaning food stains. Begin by removing as much of the stain as possible with a hard bristled brush, scraping in the direction of the fibers. Pour a few drops of organic eucalyptus oil over the stain and rub gently with a clean, absorbent cloth. Switch to a damp cloth with soapy water and blot. Follow up with a clean cloth damped with plain water and then blot dry. Call a professional rug- or leather-cleaning service if the stain persists.
Steam cleaning is a viable option to thoroughly clean cowhide rugs, as the process will remove both stains and odors. Begin by vacuuming to remove any loose dirt and debris while allowing the steam cleaner to warm up to the correct operating temperature. Work the steam-cleaning attachment with the hair, keeping the nozzle moving constantly so the fibers don’t become saturated. Steam cleaning will make the rug damp, so lay it flat and allow it to air dry thoroughly.
There are some occasions, such as for regular maintenance, when a good shaking is all that’s necessary to clean your cowhide rug. Hold the rug over an outdoor railing and give a good shaking. Alternatively, hang the rug over a clothesline and whack it with a broom, but not too hard or you may damage the hair.