How Durable Is a Cowhide Rug?

Kathy Adams

Cowhide rugs are extremely durable and low maintenance, requiring the same basic vacuuming or spot-cleaning as any other rug. Do not machine-wash cowhide.

As floor covering, a cowhide rug provides natural durability along with a classic look. Since cowhide is all-natural, it doesn't contain the potentially toxic or off-gassing chemicals that are used to stain-proof some synthetic rugs. Basic spill cleanup and regular vacuuming are generally enough to keep that cowhide from acquiring new spots or holes.


Since cowhide rugs are made directly from the hides of beef cattle, rather than from yarn or fibers stitched together tapestry-style, they offer long-lasting durability, even in areas of moderate foot traffic. The hide is naturally stain-resistant, so most types of spills clean up with ease. Cowhide does not wear thin as a woven or stitched rug might, and it cannot shed rubbery scraps from the bottom side since the entire rug is an animal hide. Patchwork-style cowhide rugs are slightly less durable along their seams, as the threads may pull loose a bit under tension. This minor type of damage is not difficult to repair.

Basic Maintenance

  • Vacuum the rug regularly every time you vacuum other floor coverings or sweep the floor.
  • Shake the rug outdoors to remove dust and debris without vacuuming.
  • Brush the hide from time to time with a nylon- or soft-bristled brush, following the natural direction of the animal hair.

Dealing With Spills

  • Blot basic liquid spills with a paper towel without rubbing the affected area. Act quickly so the liquid does not soak through the hide.
  • Treat slight stains with a drop of gentle shampoo on a slightly damp sponge, wiping in the natural direction of the hair. Wipe the area again after rinsing the sponge; then pat it dry with a soft white cloth. 
  • Scoop up spilled materials such as a bowl of spaghetti to remove all the solid materials first; then spot-clean with a drop of shampoo on a damp sponge. Wipe the area again after rinsing the sponge. Scrape any materials that dry on the rug by rubbing them with the bowl of a spoon or the edge of a plastic gift card; then spot-clean with water or shampoo and water. Do not soak the rug.

Preventive Maintenance

Keep the rug in an area that stays dry all the time -- do not use it on a bathroom floor or in a kitchen near the sink, where it may get wet. Keep the rug out of direct continual sunlight, which may dry out the back of the hide.