Maintenance of animal hides.
Hides are best used in homely environments. You can use animal hides in business environments or high traffic areas but be aware that they will wear much quicker.
You can fold an animal hide but it's not ideal. It is best to roll it when your store it away. If you decide to fold it the hide may need some time to relax afterwards. After a few days the folds start to disappear. You can speed up the process by putting something heavy, like books for example, on top. You can also iron your hide on either side. You do this by putting a damp cloth between your ironing machine and the hide.
Animal hides do not shift on carpet or wooden and stone floors because the texture on their bottom is a natural anti-slip. If you think it is needed you can always put a velcro on the corners or double sided tape on wooden and stone floors.
Sun is very damaging for all sorts of textiles, leathers, etc. It is important to keep dyed and printed hides out of direct sunlight so they do not lose their colour. Natural hides however do not lose their colour and are resistent against sunlight.
How do I clean my animal hide?
Make cleaning your animal rug part of your normal cleaning routine. Vacuuming regularly is sufficient or if the hide is not too big you can just shake it once outside to air it and get rid of dust. If you own a patchwork rug made of animal hides it is good to turn it once every now and then so that it can wear evenly.
You may also use a damp (not wet) cloth which you've soaked in a residue of soft soap and water and rub in the direction of the hairs. Make sure you do not make the hide entirely wet! Don't put it into your washing machine or bring it to a dry cleaner!
For sheepskins it's good to brush it with a dog or cat brush to keep the hairs nicely soft and fluffy and remove any dirt.
For stains of wine, coffee, tea, juice, food, soup, urine and vomit: try to immediatelly soak most of it into a towel or sponge. If it has turned hard; try to scrape it off with a knife in the direction of the hairs. Afterwards you can use a damp (not wet) cloth which you've soaked in a residue of soft soap and water. You can rub into all directions now. After that you can clean it with a damp cloth that has been soaked into a residue of water (95%) and vinegar (5%). This will make any bad smell go away.
For oil-related stains like fat, lipstick and chewing gum: get rid of most of it by scrapping it off with a knife into the direction of the hairs. Then you can put some eucalyptus oil on a cloth and softly rub it over the spot. afterwards rub it with a damp cloth which has been soaked in a residue of soft soap and water. You can rub in all directions. We can't guaranty the spot will have completelly disappeared, but it is the best way to do it and it is worth the try.
Cowhides and other animal hides don't like being wet for long. So try to avoid this. On a sunny day you can put your hide outside so that it can air. If you have to put it away for a longer period of time it's good to do it on a dry and well ventilated spot. Preferably rolled onto a tube and protected by a cotton cloth around it.
Corners curling up? What to do about it?
There are different causes for this. Bad tanning being the most common one. The leather in thinner layers will dry out quicker than the leather in thick layers. This will cause a tension on the surface and cause the curling. Very cheap cowhides start curling quite quickly.
However good quality cowhides can also curl up when they're in a bad environment. Strong sunlight or floor heating can make the leather very dry and cause it to curl up.
Curling occurs mostly around the legs and neck. Curling simply is something that can occor with cowhides.
There's not really a remedy, but you can try to curl up the leather in the opposite direction and 'massage' it. A water spray may be helpfull to keep the skin hydrated. You can also try ironing it on both sides with a damp cloth in between the hide and your ironing machine. If it keeps curling up and it really bothers you, you can just cut off the piece that curls up. To do this you can use a sharp knife and cut on the leather side. That way you only cut away the leather and not the hairs. Try to stay as close to the natural shape of the hide as possible.The easiest way to do this is to go and sit on the hide and slightly lift up the piece you want to cut off. Pull it really tight; this will allow you to easily cut it. Watch out to nut cut the floor or your own leg!