Sunday, December 20, 2009

Can I wash a cowhide in the washing machine?

I have a cowhide rug that recently has started smelling. My dog has peed on the rug a couple of time, and I have cleaned it per internet directions - with a damp sponge. It still smells. I've even cleaned it with vinegar. What would happen to it if I put it in the washing machine, and air dried it flat?Can I wash a cowhide in the washing machine?
It you wash a natural cowhide in water where it will get saturated, then when you dry it, it will get very hard %26amp; stiff, AND it will probably shrink unevenly. It may even curl on the edges. If you don't have the money to dryclean it, or IF you don't want it emanating chemicals from the drycleaning process (which, BTW, cause cancer), there are a good number of sites that have information on them about cleaning hides, but the general rules are this:

1. Depending on the tanning process, you can probably get by with sponging spots with soap and water, but it needs to be a neutral pH soap (or possibly very slightly alkaline to neutralize the acidity of the urine). The key is to NOT SOAK the leather. If it were mine, I'd rather risk the spot drying out a little stiff than smelling of urine, but that's my personal preference. You may have just used your sponge a bit too dry. Just make sure you blot all water up quickly and thoroughly with this method.

2. You can steam clean it--again, either professionally, or make sure the skin doesn't get saturated. Moving it around while it's drying keeps it flexible.

3. If you do saturate it, it may not be ruined. You may have to get it retanned (probably only if you soak the whole thing), and it will be expensive, unless you find a good DIYer who is reasonable. Also...

4. If you get stiff spots in the leather, very slightly redampen them. Throw it into the dryer on NO HEAT with a box of golf balls. Let it tumble for a long time. That should soften the fibers back up. You can do it without dampening. I'd probably only dampen it if the dry process didn't work very well. You can also stretch it and tack it onto a board with tiny nails too--definitely more labor intensive-- and rub stiff spots with a hard object (like a block of wood or a stiff brush).

Use on the hairless side.

A cowhide is very sturdy and durable, but a lot of its care depends on the tanning process. Most commercial hide sellers/distributors/processors aren't going to give you much information because they want your business rather than you possibly turning into a competitor.

If you do find information, you'll find it in country, farm, %26amp; back-to-the-land type publications. Storey Publications would be one place I'd check out.

Oh, one final note: If you use an enzyme cleaner for the urine, remember that the enzymes that break down the urine can also break down proteins in the cowhide. If I used a product like that, I would most certainly rinse and blot that area numerous times with water. More likely, I would NOT use an enzymatic cleaner on a natural hide.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional cleaner or animal skin specialist.Can I wash a cowhide in the washing machine?
There are specialist cleaners for these called Cow Care which clean and protect. You need to prevent them from getting over wet otherwise the hair will fall out. Report Abuse

Washing machine will ruin it. Definately take it to the dry cleaners-if they ruin it, they pay for it.
if you put it in the machine it will dry hard like cardboard take it to the dry cleaning ok!
No. The washing machine will ruin the nap of the fur.

Either use Nature's Miracle (available at any pet store) or take it to a dry cleaners. I once took a sheepskin rug to the dry cleaners and it came back like new.

The Nature's Miracle had enzymes in it that break down the proteins in dog urine. Pour it directly on the stain and let it soak for a while (a few hours or overnight). Then leave it somewhere warm to dry (hanging it owuld be best). That will remove the stain and the smell.

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