When I mention cowhide rugs, what kind of home do you picture having a cowhide rug?
I think many people envision a log cabin in the woods with a cozy fireplace.
More and more, cowhide rugs have become a popular choice in modern decorating. They seem to fit equally well in casual country cottages, luxury mansions, and modern loft apartments. The Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa, Texas uses cowhide rugs in it's rooms along ultra-modern furnishings.
You can find solid varieties to give you that stark contrast in a room. You can find classic black and white cow patterns with spots, the speckled brindle hides, or multi-colored natural hides. Cows come in all shades of creams, tans, browns, and blacks. With the popularity of zebra prints and other exotics, companies now stencil or screen-print stripes or spots onto solid white cowhides to create the illusion of these exotic hides at a much cheaper price. They can create zebras, tigers, cheetahs, cougars, etc. They can also dye the cowhides with bright vibrant colors. Care for a hot pink zebra?
Cows aren't bred and raised with the end result of a rug in mind. Cows are usually raised for the beef industry. Cowhides are simply a secondary product. For this reason, their hides aren't always perfect. They may even have branding marks. These natural marking will affect the price you pay.
Some people have a concern about children or pets with cowhide rugs. Generally, children like the feel. Dogs and cats are sometimes wary of the cowhide at first primarily due to the unfamiliar scent. If you have a pet that is prone to chewing on things, he may also chew on your rug. Otherwise, he will most likely curl up on it and have a nap.
Another great benefit of a cowhide rug is that it is naturally skid resistant. The natural texture on the underside works well on hardwood surfaces.
Consider Tanning Techniques for Durability
According to Cowhides International.com "it's generally accepted knowledge that the best cowhide rugs in the world are "chromium tanned", and that the best "chromium tanned" cow hides come from Brazil and Argentina, South America." Chromium helps rugs stay soft and flexible and prevent cracking. Some companies use natural oils instead.
Just be aware that cheaper rugs may end up cracking if they have not been chromium tanned.
How to Clean and Care for a Cowhide Rug
Protect your rug with a Scotch Guard type product if you can. This will serve as a barrier between the hair fibers of your rug and spills.
Vacuum your rug regularly keeping up all the surface dust and dirt before it embeds itself deeper into the hair. It's a good idea to take it outside and shake it out to loosen any loose particles before vacuuming it. Brushing the hide with a hard plastic brush helps to keep the hair soft and fluffy and to loosen dirt particles.
For spot treating the rug, you can use a mild non-alkaline soap that can be worked into a foam on a wet sponge. Apply in a gentle rubbing fashion and wipe in the direction of the grain until the spot is dissolved. Rinse with a clean damp sponge to remove any soap residue.
For common spills like drinks, food, urine, and vomit, soak up the spill with a paper towel immediately. Remove any solid matter. Then wipe the hide with a damp, not wet, sponge or cloth with a mild soapy mix of soap and water. You can wipe the hair vigorously in any direction. Then you can clean it with a damp cloth using a diluted 1% white vinegar/99% water solution. This will help stabilize the PH level to eliminate unpleasant odors. Eucalyptus oil works well on oil, grease or makeup stains.
Don't allow your cowhide rug to get too wet. If you have a heavy spill, I would use a wet-dry vacuum to get up the liquid immediately and make sure the rug can dry out. A fan pointed towards it or allowing it to dry in the sun are options.
They say you can steam clean them, but I would be very careful doing this and only attempt it as a last ditch effort. You don't want to get too much moisture trapped into the rug.
Possum Fur from New Zealand
While researching different aspects of cowhides, I ran across a website called Debandada.com and discovered this gorgeous honeycomb possum fur. It is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I don't know about where you're from, but here in Texas, I haven't ever seen a possum that 'purdy'.
Great Links and Resources
- Modern Cowhide Rugs by PureRugs.com
Pure rugs supplies and distributes cowhides and cowhide rugs. Their modern design allows for multiple colors and textures.
- The Cow Hide Store
The cow hide catalog of choice for homeowners and professional decorators. Online shopping for cowhides in your favorite styles and colors
Great selection of cowhides-lots of unusual styles to choose from.