How to Clean a Bear Skin Rug ( & Other Taxidermy)

I was recently fortunate enough to give an old black bear rug a new home.  I don’t think i would ever order such a thing on my own but this one already existed and had belonged to my parents.  They used it for a while but the dogs didn’t like it so it was put away and forgotten about for years.  It came into my possession this passed Christmas and has since made a beautiful addition to my little home.

It was not so beautiful when I first received it however.  It was dusty from being discarded in storage for many years, the paws had come off the felt mount and it needed a little love and a new environment.  Which begged me to ask the question, “How the heck do I clean this thing without totally destroying it?”


General Maintenance

You will need to use a comb (not too fine) first to get out dust bunnies and debris and other foreign particles.  For best results do this while quietly chanting “Nice bear… soft bear…clean bear…”.  Comb with the direction of the fur, so you don’t create any breakage.

Next mix up a bucket of mild, eco-friendly soap (or 5% white vinegar/ 95% water solution) and use a sponge.  Wring the sponge out as much as possible so it is just bear-ly (AHahahaha…) damp, you do not want your rug to be wet at any point.  Gently wipe the bear in the direction of the fur. Rinse and ring out the sponge as you collect yuckies, so you don’t just spread them around and mix new water if it becomes to cloudy.

Allow it to “dry” (it shouldn’t be wet) for a while (few hours or overnight) and come back with the comb (all cleaned out of course).  Comb through it again, this time to break up any clumps from being damp, and too smooth the fur and make it look nice, remember to follow the natural lay of the fur.  

Do this once a month or more often in high traffic areas.  Rugs will collect more dust and dirt than wall mounts (and endure more wear and tear), so they will require more attention to keep nice.


If it is a wet spill, just dab with a towel or cloth and try to soak up as much moisture as possible.  Use a damp cloth but do not make the rug any more wet.  Moisture and heat are the enemies of your bear rug.

Note that my rug is a black bear, and would not show dirt or dust as evidently as a polar bear or any animal hide of a lighter colour. For stains or damage to a polar bear rug I would only recommend having it cleaned by a professional.  I’ve seen images of people trying to fix theirs by bleaching it or using other solutions, only to damage it further.

How to Clean a Bear Skin Rug ( & Other Taxidermy)