How to Clean a Cowhide Rug

  • Cowhide rugs can be the best home decor accessory ever, but if they’re not clean, get smelly, or just don’t look fresh anymore, all their charm is gone. 
  • Whether you need to provide your hide with regular cleaning or get rid of individual stains, we share a couple of handy cowhide cleaning tips.
  • Read our take on how to clean a cowhide rug and get ready to tackle keeping this sophisticated piece of home decor in excellent condition! 

What are cowhide rugs?

First, let’s find out what a cowhide rug is. 

A cowhide rug is the complete skin and hair of a cow raised most often as part of the dairy and meat industry.

The final product is soft and durable, and it retains the characteristic, unique markings of the animal. Only some hides are re-dyed to create new exotic-like prints.

A genuine cowhide rug can last for years, holding up to a lively family with children and pets. In addition, according to Architectural Digest, cowhide is naturally highly stain-resistant.

What’s more, cowhides are hypoallergenic; they don’t trap allergens or release fibers into the air.

China, India, Brazil, and the USA are the world’s top four leather manufacturers. European hides are slightly thinner and come from different breeds than Brazilian ones. The latter are known for their top-notch quality and cost more. However, the tanning process for both is very similar.  

There is a common misconception that cowhide floor coverings suit only a western-themed home when it comes to decor. Of course, this accessory goes hand in hand with western decor, but it can be seen often in many contemporary and modern homes. 

All things considered, cowhide rugs don’t seem to be going out of style anytime soon!

Clean a cowhide rug

There are two cleaning activities involved in keeping a cowhide rug clean.

The first one is regular cleaning, i.e., cleaning that you’ll perform now and then to ensure your beautiful rug remains fresh, clean, and smells good.

You’ll perform the second kind of cleaning only on a stained area of your cowhide rug in case of spills, food crumbs causing grease stains on your rug, or similar accidents. We’ll need these cleaning methods only occasionally.

Regular cleaning

When it comes to the frequency of regular cleaning, it’s best to

  • vacuum your cowhide rug three times per week, and 
  • perform a deep clean once or twice a month;

Tip: Periodically rotate the rug to a different position to ensure it doesn’t wear unevenly.

Include the cowhide rug cleaning in your daily routine with other amenities, such as furniture, pillows, decoration items, etc. 

First, vacuum your cowhide rug to remove dirt and dust and prevent the build-up of dirt and stains.

A light vacuum cleaning is perfect for rugs. Use the setting with the head of the vacuum brush tilted down.  

If you notice hair you need to brush off from your hide, do it with a hard plastic brush or a broom. 

Why would you brush the rug in the first place?

Brushing your cowhide rug with hard plastic bristles does more to its cleanliness than simply vacuuming or shaking it. 

Besides taking all the particles out, regular brushing keeps your cowhide rug’s hair soft, fluffy, and shiny.

You can also clean your cowhide rug with a damp sponge or damp cloth, mild soap, and water. Be careful never to soak the rug for an extended time!

Tip: If you’re using a damp cloth, carefully rub your rug surface in the direction of the hair. 

You can also use the good old method, which boils down to picking up your rug and taking it outside the house to shake it.

Important: This kind of rug is too precious to be beaten. To avoid damage, shake it only. 

Any other cowhide cleaning tips?

Light steam cleaning can help to keep your rug looking fresh. Yet, keep in mind to never allow the rug to become drenched in water and always remove the excess water. Otherwise, your rug can lose its original shape and charm. 

Important: Cowhide rugs should never be washed or exposed to dry cleaning chemicals.


If you cause or notice liquid stains on your cowhide rugs, such as pet stain, pet urine, food stains, or red wine, there won’t be time for your daily or weekly cleaning routine. 

It will be time to act (and do it rather quickly).

Cowhide rugs may be stain-resistant, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll never have to deal with stains and spills. 

In this paragraph, we tackle more advanced cleaning suggestions, which boil down to treating spills the way they should be treated!

So we know we have to act quickly, but what should we do to remove stains efficiently?

Liquid stains

Start by not letting your spill get soaking wet and quickly removing excess liquid from the surface of your rug. 

When you notice any spills from the tea, coffee, soup, wine, or food on your favorite cowhide rug, soak them up as fast as possible with a sponge or a paper towel.

Just dab the spot, don’t rub it—this could spread the stain!

Then, use a damp cloth and a small amount of gentle soap or organic shampoo to clean the stain. Mix a couple of drops of shampoo with lukewarm water.

Scrub and rub carefully until the stain disappears, ensuring the sponge isn’t soaking wet.

In the end, you’ll have to rinse the product you used. First, take a clean cloth and dampen it with water. Then, gently wipe away the shampoo solution residue.

Have we mentioned how easy it is to clean cowhide rugs?

Dried matter

If there is dried solid matter, scrape it away in the direction of the hair using the blunt edge of the butter knife.

You can try removing solid spills with a hard plastic bristle brush. By gently scraping, clean your rug in the direction of the hair.

Eventually, apply a little white vinegar to prevent the stain from reappearing. Use 5% diluted white vinegar in 95% water to balance the pH level and remove an unpleasant odor.

Heavy stains

If your stain problem includes grease, fat, lipstick, or chewing gum, find out how to treat your rug to make it look new. 

Get rid of the heavy stains with Eucalyptus oil.

This oil works ideally after initial scraping off the solid waste, and it should be applied directly to the affected area with a soft cloth.

In the case of pet urine on our cowhide rugs, you’ll be happy to know that baking soda is excellent at removing unpleasant odors. 

Once your rug is completely dry after the cleaning, sprinkle the affected area with baking soda and let it sit for 24 hours. Then, remove the baking soda with a vacuum cleaner.

Let your cowhide rug air dry. Simply leave it outside with the hide, not the hair, facing the sun.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A sure way to recognize a genuine cowhide rug is its leather smell. A genuine cowhide rug won't give off the odor of synthetic materials, plastic, or chemicals.
It's better to avoid soaking your cowhide rug. It can cause the rug to move out of shape as it dries. If you decide to use water to clean your cowhide rug, blot up as much moisture as possible with a dry towel afterward.
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