How to Clean a Buffalo Rug

Are you a log home owner and love the outdoors? Animal leathers, hides and furs are the perfect way to express your passion inside four walls. One of the most common and striking expressions is a centerpiece fur rug.

Fur rugs increase in popularity each year as outdoorsmen, ranchers, city dwellers and everyone in-between continue grow in appreciation of the warmth and beauty that these additions make to any home, office or retreat.

American West Buffalo Rugs are some of the largest and most beautiful natural fur rugs available and Claw, Antler and Hide prides itself on offering the best.

When considering a buffalo hide rug purchase, we encourage you to ask questions. One of the first questions, we commonly get asked is about how to clean them. 

Cleaning a buffalo rug is not that different from cleaning a bear rug or even a cowhide.

Here are a few our buffalo rug tips:

These rules apply for other animal hides as well.

Avoid Sunlight

Do not display the Buffalo furs in a place with too much sunlight. Animal hide does not fare well in direct sunlight because the harsh heat and UV light will quickly dry out the skin. This rapid degradation will lead to cracking or curling. Ensure the area is a moderate and comfortable temperature.

Avoid High Traffic

Do not put a buffalo rug in high traffic areas. Putting your buffalo rug where there is too much traffic such as a mud room or foyer entrance will be over using it. If you want to keep it for a long time (and we all do) you should find an appropriate place in your household such as the great room or master suite.

Avoid Dampness

Do not leave in damp rooms for extended periods. Humid and damp rooms are NOT the place you want to your buffalo hide rug. While too much sunlight cracks them, the extreme opposite is also harmful. High moisture content can lead to the growth of mold and/or weakening of the overall hide structure.

Here is how to clean your buffalo rug:

Shake Out the Rug

Depending on your vacuum and suction levels, there is a chance it can and will damage your natural fur rug. To be safe, we recommend a simple shake instead of using a vacuum. Removing loose dirt and dust, only requires is a gentle shaking over the deck once and awhile. Do not use a beater bar on them as you can pull out the buffalo fur which over time may destroy your fur rug. Shaking them gives them a chance to breathe some fresh air and release any dirt and dust. It’s easy and it’s our recommendation.

Gentle Brushing

To brush off dirt from your hide, you need to be somewhat gentle. For example, you will need to brush with the fur grain. Only brush in the direction of the grain growth to avoid disrupting and cutting off more hair from its base. You may use wire or natural comb to brush the fur gently. A pet fur brush works great. If you notice damage on your buffalo rug, we suggest a suede brush instead. Remember to focus on areas with the dust, dirt, grime, and debris. Do not over brush.

Vinegar for Stains

Getting out a stain is not a hard as you might imagine. Focusing on small areas at a time, spray the rug with the vinegar (preferably white vinegar in water). The amount of the vinegar in the water should only be 5%. After spraying, simply wipe off the area with a soft sponge and immediately dry it with a clean dry cloth. This process will also help you freshen the buffalo rug. The vinegar allows you to balance the PH and neutralize odors present for complete freshness. Most importantly, you will be destroying bacteria.

Basic household chemical solutions such as vinegar remove stains and spills effectively.  However, if the stains persist, you can apply alcohol in moderation directly to the stain. Cleaning a buffalo rug may require disinfectants. Before you apply a chemical solution to your rug, perform a spot test in an inconspicuous spot and wait for the results.

Leather Cleaner

This is the most common solution to remove stains on animal hide. Give us a call or come into the store to ask about a cleaner for your leather hide.  We are happy to point you in the right direction and help you find the right product for a specific animal hide.

Leather Conditioner

For both new and old rugs, leather conditioner is a good preventative maintenance product. Again, you should find conditioner that is specific to your hide. Luckily, there are many brands and lots of good options. Quality buffalo conditioner contains fats and oils to moisturize your hide. It therefore, helps to keep it supple, replenished, and lustrous. Avoid petroleum products and mineral oils, as they are responsible for the quick drying, which damages the leather over time. Instead, use those with quality natural oils such as mink oil. Avoid overdoing it, though and only focus when there is need for cleaning.


It is important to seal off your buffalo rug to avoid the harm of water after cleaning. You may use quality leather or suede protector. Beware that water is not a friend to your buffalo rug as whenever there is contact, it forms temporary bonds with the oils within the rug. The lubrications on the fibers are exposed and float in the water to waste away. The buffalo rug will therefore quickly become stiff as the protein bonds holding the fibers break.

Happy to Answer Questions

When you acquire an American bison fur you are acquiring a piece of history. You’ll want to care for it with pride but the maintenance is not hard with a little bit of skill and knowledge. Please call 606-673-4345, email or come into our Custer store. We’re happy to discuss how to care for your new buffalo hide rug.