Cowhide Cleaning and Curling
Welcome to all cowhide and cow skin rug owners
Congratulations for making an excellent choice of versatile flooring solution. If your cowhide rug is good quality it will bring you enjoyment for many years to come. If the cowhide rug is cheap then you may experience some issues very quickly.
Don't buy a cow skin rug until you have watched this video about quality cowhide verses cheap cowhide!
Cowhide rug care instructions
Cowhide hair-on-hide is best used in a domestic home environment. You can use a cowhide rug in your home's entranceway but it will show wear more quickly. We think they work better in a lounge, dining room or bedroom.
It's OK to fold your cowhide rug, but it will need some time to relax after it is unfolded. If your cow skin rug is good quality the creases will come out after a few days laying flat. A heavy weight like books can speed up this process. You can also steam iron the cow skin on the underside or hairy side to reduce creases more quickly.
Photograph to the right by Anil Dumasia from xybrands
Cow skin does not move much on carpet (unless you have deep carpet underlay) or wooden floors, the textured leather underside has natural grip. You do need to be a bit careful in bare feet on the soft and silky upper side. Sometimes Velcro dots (the teeth grip kind) around the edge help stop the cowhide rug from being kicked up at the edges on carpet or a non-slip rug underlay (on hard floors like wood and concrete).
If you are visiting this page you probably already own a cowhide rug. We hope these cleaning instructions help and also hope that you spend some time looking through other areas of this wonderful site in return for the cowhide cleaning instructions. We ship internationally.
Gorgeous Creatures has beautiful possum merino knitwear unique to New Zealand.
Demonstration using red wine, dark soya sauce & chocolate sauce.
For oil based spills like fat, grease, lipstick, tar and chewing gum - Remove solid matter from the cow skin with the blunt edge of knife by scraping gently in the direction of the hair. Then apply Eucalyptus oil directly to the affected area on a soft cloth or cotton wool pad by dabbing gently. Finally wipe with a damp (but not wet) sponge or cloth using a mild soapy solution. You can wipe and rub the cowhide hair vigorously in any direction. We can not guarantee that this will remove your stain, but it the best method of trying. This is done at your own risk.
Demonstration using peanut butter, Thai chilli paste, lipstick, chewing gum & black road oil & dirt.
Cowhide rugs do not like to be damp or wet for long periods, please avoid this. On a sunny day you can put your cowhide rug outside with the underside facing the sun to air out. Store cow skin rugs in a dry well ventilated place, preferably rolled around a cardboard tube core with a clean cotton sheet to protect from dust and dirt while in storage.
We recommend that white, cream, beige or other light coloured cowhides be sprayed with a light coating of colourless nubuck and suede water proof spray from a cobbler or shoe shop when they are new. If you clean the cowhide rug with soap and water you can re-spray the surface again for added protection.
There are a number of things that might cause edge curling on cow skin rugs. A poor quality cow hide that has been unevenly split during the tanning process is a strong possibility. Because the leather fibres in the thinner areas dry out faster than leather fibres in the thicker areas it can create uneven surface tension and make them curl. Expect cheap cowhide to curl quite quickly, within months of purchase. This curling is sometimes called cigaring.
However even a good quality cowhide can curl with the right environmental influences. Again if the top surface fibres are drying and contracting faster than the underneath fibres due to heat exposure like strong sun or a heater blowing hot air over the cowhide over a long period of time. Or the reverse can be true for under floor heating which dries out the underneath faster than the top surface.
They are most vulnerable to curling around the narrow leather parts like the front legs and the cheek leather near the head. Curling is simply something that low quality cowhide rugs can do, it should be considered the "nature of the beast".
There isn’t really a cure but try to roll the leather back in the opposite direction to the curl and give it a squeeze massage. A light misting of water can also help put a small controlled amount of moisture back into the cow skin leather. You can steam iron cowhide rugs on either the leather or hair side with a cloth between the iron and the cow skin.
If it really bothers you and continues to curl then the only other option is the trim off a slice of leather removing the curling area. Use a sharp craft knife blade and cut from the underside starting by wiggling the knife through the leather in the middle of the cutting path, then slowly draw the blade in a gentle curve mirroring the original shape of the cowhide rug and running the blade off the edge of the hide, repeat going in the other direction to complete the cut. This technique cuts the leather but not the hair leaving a nice layer of hair still falling over the edge of the cowhide. I find it easiest if the cow skin rug is on the floor (upside down), I then stand on the cow skin rug to hold it down and lift the edge that I am cutting about 10cm away from the floor so the leather is taught. Be careful and watch out you don't cut your floor or your leg!!!!
Of course it is very likely that curling will happen again if the cowhide is cheap and poor quality or the environmental factors are still happening. If cigaring is an ongoing annoyance then perhaps cowhide rugs are not the best flooring solution for you. Buy a sheep skin wool rug instead.