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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!

***We are developing a specialized cowhide cleaning detergent designed to clean the hair and be safe for the leather. Come back soon to buy.***

Cowhide rug care instructions

Pets urine and cleaning cowhide rugs

Cowhide hair-on-hide is best used in a domestic home environment. You can use a cowhide rug in your home's entrance way 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 Image Central

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).

The sun takes its toll on all furnishing fabrics. We recommend keeping the dyed and printed cow skins out of direct sunlight to avoid any possible fading. Natural cowhide rugs are fade resistant but everything fades given enough sun and enough time. 


Cowhide and cow skin rug cleaning instructions

Download FREE* cowhide rug cleaning instructions PDF for individual private use - not for re-distribution (*copyrighted content)

Include your cowhide rug, cowhide furniture or cushions in your normal cleaning routine, simply vacuum with the vacuum head brush in the down position (for hard floors) or give cow skin rugs and cushions a shake outside to remove dust and small dry particles of dirt. Rotate your cow skin rug or move to a different location from time to time so that the rug wears evenly.

You can wipe the cowhide hair smoothly in the direction of the hair with a damp (but not wet) cloth with mild soap (our special cowhide cleaning detergent is coming soon) and water. Do not soak the cowhide or get it too wet. DO NOT wash in a washing machine or dry clean.

Brushing your cowhide rug with a hard plastic brush (like a scrubbing brush) helps to keep the hair soft and tangle free and helps to remove dust and dirt sitting under the hair.

For common spills like red wine, coffee, tea, juice, food, soup, urine and vomit - soak up liquid spills with a paper towel or sponge immediately. Remove solid matter with the blunt edge of knife by scraping gently in the direction of the hair. Then wipe the cowhide hair with a damp (but not wet) sponge or cloth using mild non-alkaline soapy solution. You can wipe and rub the hair vigorously in any direction. Finally for animal accidents use a diluted 5% white vinegar and 95% water solution as the final rinse water, this balances the pH levels back to neutral and helps to eliminate unpleasant odours. 


Demonstration using red wine, dark soya sauce & chocolate sauce.

cleaning cowhide rugs
cleaning cowhide rugs cleaning cowhide rugs

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 spill or 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.

cleaning cow skin rugs
cleaning cow skin rugs cleaning cow skin rugs

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.

If you found this information useful please reward us by browsing other pages of this awesome site and "like" our facebook page. We ship internationally and stock a beautiful range of New Zealand possum merino wool knitwear, calf skin rugs, sheepskin rugs and mohair throw blankets.

We have been selling beautiful top quality cowhide rugs in New Zealand for over ten years, it is interesting to note that in the last two years the NZ searches for trouble shooting and curling info has sky-rocketed after poor quality cowhide was introduced to New Zealand. Cheap hides WILL fail so don't buy them.

Are your cheap cowhide rug edges curling up? Cigaring and what to do about it.

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.

Quality & Service

When buying from Gorgeous Creatures, you will enjoy the benefits of our knowledge and experience, and you have our promise that you will receive all the pre-sale advice and after-sales service you need to feel confident in your purchase. Experience the difference and shop with us!

Our Customers Say

"OMG!! The cowhide arrived this morning and it's even more stunning than in the photo! I absolutely love it! Couldn't be happier! Thank you Kirsty for such wonderful service and such a superior product. I will definitely spread the word! Cheers, Petra"

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