PROPER WASHING AND DRYING OF SHEPHERD'S FLOCK®'s SHEARLING PRODUCTS
For those of you who might stumble on this page via a search engine please note that these instructions are for products we sell/produce since we know our sources.
All of our products may be dry cleaned by an experienced leather dry cleaner or furrier. In many cases this will give you a more satisfactory result. With regard to our hats and ear muffs we believe this is the best method available and do not, therefore, suggest washing (although you can do it if you want). Most other products can be washed with care following the instructions below. Treat the items like you would a fine wool sweater. Note that sheepskin products, when washed, will not come out looking like new. The wool will retain any curl that has developed over time and, in fact, will likely curl up even more when washed. They will just be cleaner than before. We also recommend only occasional washing. No matter the product used we believe constant washing will shorten the useable life span of the item. Also, since we have watched the search queries used to find this page, don't even think about washing a shearling coat/jacket without contacting the firm you purchased it from. We are going to bet they will tell you to dry clean it.
(Honestly, all the serious wool folks we know say never to use Woolite® on anything so we will pass that advice on to you since it includes our products.)
Note that we will absolutely not be responsible for any damage that may occur from washing.
Sheepskin rugs can be
washed either in a machine or by hand. Please note that we strongly suggest hand
washing for the sake of your washing machine as well as the skin. They get
pretty heavy when they are soaking wet.
Regardless of the method chosen do not use harsh detergents, Woolite®, bleach, or any of the popular enzyme cleaners. These will damage the skin and, in some cases, actually reverse the tanning process. Use only cool/luke warm water, maximum of about 100º F. Hot water will ruin the skin. Do not use fabric softener.
Note that the wool was highly processed and ironed during the finishing process (prior to retail sale). The wool will never get back to "like new" especially if the rug has been well used.
Prior to washing take the rug outside and shake as much of the dirt out of the skin as possible.
If hand washing: put the skin in the tub and hold it under the water until the
skin is thoroughly saturated with water (doesn't float). Gently churn the skin
for a time to get the soap moving around the fibers and then let soak for 5 or 10
Rinsing will depend upon the soap used. May of the specialty products do not require rinsing. Gently squeeze out excess water, do not wring and then hang by the butt end on a line or on lay on a flat surface to dry naturally away from heat and out of direct sunshine. This will take a fairly substantial amount of time. Be sure the skin is flat when drying, not draped over a line or a drying rack. If you dry it on a flat surface dry it with the wool down.
When the skin is just damp you can, again gently, gradually stretch the skin back into shape. Brushing gently with a fine but stiff wire brush at this point will help straighten the wool back out a bit. Brush in one direction. When the skin is completely dry sake the rug briskly and it will help separate the wool fibers.
washing: put the skin in the washing machine and set it to gentle
cycle. Once the skin is thoroughly soaked, allow the machine to churn only briefly. The more churning the more the
wool will mat. Let the skin soak in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes. The
spin cycle is fine and will help get much of the excess water removed and will
speed drying time. Rinse if necessary or desired.
Dry the same as for hand washing. Never tumble dry even on no heat cycle as that will just mat the wool even more.
Note that the older the product the more likely it will be damaged by washing but that is a given with all clothing. If wear or weak spots are beginning to develop it is inadvisable to wash.
All products should be hand washed using either a specialty product or a very mild soap. Again, never use bleach, detergents, enzyme, or the "oxy" type cleaners. Water should be lukewarm or cool to touch. Rinse if necessary (depends upon your choice of cleaners). Do not use any type of fabric softener. When finished do not wring the water out as doing so will greatly stretch the leather and result in a permanently misshapen product.
When drying do not put the item in a dryer or attempt to dry quickly by any means. Products should be allowed to dry at room temperature (inside) on a flat surface, not hung on a line.
Gloves are best washed on the hands. Simply "wash your hands" with the gloves on. Gently squeeze excess water out but do not wring or stretch. Allow to dry lying on a towel or some other absorbent surface. Rotate frequently. When still slightly damp gently stretch the fingers lengthwise and widthwise and do the same with the base part (palm) of the glove. Be sure to use equal strength in all areas otherwise you can stretch one part out of proportion.
Seat Belt Covers and Insoles
Seat belt covers should be washed closed otherwise the wool gets tangled up in the hook and loop fastener (you call it Velcro® but we can't without getting into trouble). Gently hand wash as per the general instructions above. Carefully just work the solution into the product so that it is wet through. Rinse if necessary. For drying you should open the seat belt cover up. Allow item(s) to sit on a flat surface to dry, wool down. When partially dry gently stretch the product back into shape. Note that stretching the insoles back into their original shape can be difficult so be careful.
Slippers, shearling and crepe soled, and Mittens
Important, prior to washing be sure to record the size code for your slippers. Most times it will remain but we need that information for resoling and it greatly helps when you order a replacement pair, especially if alterations have been done.
Immerse in the washing solution and gently work the solution into the leather until the product is thoroughly saturated. Allow to soak for 5 or 10 minutes in the solution. Rinse the same way if required. You may use the spin cycle of your washing machine to spin out as much excess water as possible or gently squeeze the excess water out of the leather by hand. Dry on a towel or other absorbent surface. Rotate mittens frequently as they dry. Slippers should be left to dry upright and the inside can be stuffed with paper towels, wash cloths etc. to help preserve the shape and slightly speed up drying time. While the product is still slightly damp gently stretch the leather back into shape. Further softening will happen as the item is worn again.
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