How to Clean Cowhide Rugs

Shake a cowhide rug outside or vacuum it to remove dust and debris. Use a damp lint-free white cloth to treat spills.

Cowhide rugs cannot be washed in a machine like some rugs, but they are still fairly easy to maintain. Shake them outdoors, vacuum them from time to time, and spot-treat spills with a little water or a dedicated cowhide cleaner.

Cleaning Without Water

  • Carry the rug outside to shake out some of the dust, dirt and debris it collects over time. Loosely fold the rug in half without creasing it; then carry it with the fold on the bottom to move it outdoors without dumping dirt particles all over the floor. 
  • Sweep or brush the rug from time to time to help keep it clean. Use nylon-bristled brooms or brushes for best results. 
  • A vacuum cleaner may also be used on the rug. Set the cleaner to a low suction setting and either stand or set a weight along the rug's edges to prevent the rug from being drawn into the vacuum cleaner, which may cause damage or creasing.  

Dealing With Spills

  • Blot up spilled liquids or foods as soon as possible to help prevent stains. Use paper towels or a lint-free white cloth to blot the affected areas. 
  • Remove spilled items such as ice cream or pasta by scooping up the material with a rubber scraper or a large spoon. Scoop from the outer edge of the spill toward the center, working your way around until you've removed as much as possible. Blot up remaining liquids afterwards. Keep a bowl nearby so you have a place to deposit the substance removed from the carpet. 
  • Treat soiled areas with a damp lint-free cloth. Use a white cloth to prevent dye transfer. If the stain does not come up easily, apply a pea-sized squirt of baby shampoo or a mild dish soap to the cloth; then wipe the rug again. Rinse out the cloth; then wipe the cleaned area again with the cloth to prevent soap residue that may attract dirt. A few drops of white vinegar in a cup of water can also be used to help remove residue from soaps and spills.

Drying and Airing Out the Rug

Any time the rug gets wet or smells a little less than fresh, air it out, hair-side down, over a clothesline or the back of a chair for several hours on a dry, non-humid day.


Do not use abrasives or harsh chemicals on a cowhide rug. Store it only in clean areas that do not smell musty or damp; otherwise, the rug may pick up the odor as well.

Continue Reading