How to Clean Sheepskin Seat Covers

by Kyle McBride
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Sheepskin seat covers -- real sheepskin, not synthetic sheepskin look-alikes -- are quite durable and will last for years if you give them your attention occasionally. Remove the covers from your car seats and give them a vigorous shake and a vacuum. Sheepskin naturally sheds dirt, so shaking the loose dirt out of your covers every few months is the most basic care they'll need. To fluff up the fibers, comb your covers with a stiff dog or cat brush. Sheepskin looks dirty only if something oily or sticky contaminates the fibers and traps the dirt where you can see it.

Spot Cleaning

For those dirty spots, use a mild dish detergent such as Ivory, Dawn or Palmolive liquid. Never use laundry detergent, not even gentle ones like Woolite or Deft. You can use a wash formulated for wool, such as Euclean wool wash, Kookaburra wash or Lano-wash. Target the dirty spots with a damp sponge and rinse with cool water. Water doesn't harm sheepskin, so don't worry about getting it wet. Your method for drying it is important, however.

No Heat or Direct Sunlight

If the sheepskin is soaked, roll it in a heavy terry towel and squeeze out the excess water, then lay it out fleece-side down to dry in the shade. Don't use a heat source, such as the clothes dryer or a blow dryer, to dry the covers. You can use a fan to circulate the air over them to dry them faster -- moving air is okay, heat is not. You may need to stretch the covers gently as they dry to keep them from shrinking.

Give Them a Fluff

To restore the nap, toss the thoroughly dried seat covers into the dryer with a couple of tennis balls. Remember that you can't use heat, so set the dryer to air dry only. Depending on the dryer, you want to look for the setting labeled "Air," "No Heat" or something similar. Run the dryer for about 15 minutes, then clean out the lint filter and run it for another 15 minutes. Clean the lint filter again when you remove the covers from the dryer. Static electricity from the dryer fluffs the fibers. The tennis balls keep the covers from wadding up as they tumble and help beat out residual dirt and dust.

Do the Switcheroo

The driver seat typically gets much more use than the passenger seat. If your covers are interchangeable between the front seats, switch them each time you take the covers off to shake them -- which should be about every three months for normal use -- and spot clean as needed.

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