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Cowhide Rugs

Updated on November 30, 2017

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.

Honecomb Possum Fur (isn't it gorgeous?!)
Honecomb Possum Fur (isn't it gorgeous?!)

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'.

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    • profile image

      Sam 

      6 years ago

      Just to let you guys know, the main source of possums fur in NZ are from the common brush tailed possum introduced from Australia (not the one in the pitcure). This species has now bread to large numbers and is causing a lot of damage there.

      Also possums none of the possum species in Australia play dead, this behaviour is only observed in o'possums.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      Thank you MsFran!

    • MsFran profile image

      MsFran 

      8 years ago from Here and There, Everywhere

      I really like your tips in cleaning the cowhide rug. They are very helpful.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks, Rugforall!

    • rugsforall profile image

      rugsforall 

      8 years ago

      Your tanning tip rocks!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      LOL....thanks for sharing the info Kiwi Johno! They are absolutely beautiful, but I bet they are a nusiance.

    • profile image

      Kiwi Johno 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for the info on cowhides. On the possum thing, they are Australian possums. They were bought over to NZ a hundred years back for the fur trade but escaped and our running rampant through our lovely native forests. They reckon theres over 80 million of them now. So they are trying to re-establish a fur trade to make it worth hunters trapping them again... so for the sake of the poor depleted NZ forest buy, buy, BUY!!!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      The thing I don't like about the zebra prints is that they look too perfect. That's one of the things I like about natural cowides is that no two are alike. When they start stenciling they seem to be too uniform. They need to alter the pattern a bit. I don't know if I'd like a car seat with cowhide, but I would love a chair for home.

    • SoftCornHippo profile image

      SoftCornHippo 

      9 years ago

      I could see cowhide often on the farm - in an urban environment it can also work - specially on carseats! Wow! Can you imagine the ride! on cowhide! I wanna do it! This is a terrific hub! my friend at adahsarts makes leather garments- not the SF style CastroStreet kinda leather garments either, but western/native style stuff. What do ya think of zebra-patterned cowhides? They look good on carseats!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Cow farts are never fun. I want to find me one of them purdy honeycomb possums for a conversation piece. Top that!

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 

      9 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      OOh.. except for the cow farts.. it could work! An otto-cow! I tried getting a guy to lay down for an otto-man, but he.. well let's not revisit that.. a cow could be a great topic of conversation at my next party!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      That's a great idea, Candie, to have the cow lay in front of your couch. He can double as an ottoman!

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 

      9 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      I don't know about DIY tanning. Can I just get a cow to lay in front of my couch? Hmmm.. If you're rotating out your fur rugs, can I use a lovely Holstein rug for a while? No.. make it a red Hereford, it would match my entertainment center better! Thanks K!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      I don't know lbtrader. Thanks for stopping by.

    • lbtrader profile image

      lbtrader 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Leaves me wondering how countries who see the cow as a sacred animal see the cowhide rug making industry...

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks Paradise. As I was just showing my husband this hub, the reminded me that our possums are o'possums and different than the possums in NZ. No wonder! Maybe I should research possums!

      Have you never heard the expression, "playing possum"? They PLAY dead! It's a defense mechanism. So when you picked him up he wasn't dead! He could have bitten you!

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 

      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Hi, KCC. That possum. Can't believe it, it IS pretty. Possums aren't very beautiful in person. I chased one away from my back steps one time, and he just wouldn't move! He was big, heavy and really sorta ugly. I finally picked him up and gave him a quick toss over the backyard fence!

      These cowhide rugs are beautiful. Thanks, KCC, and you're making terrific progress on your HubChallenge!

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