Alpacas are animals native to Peru and live high up in the Andes Mountains. They are raised for their wonderful wool and ultra soft furs. You can purchase an alpaca hide and decorate your home with an authentic alpaca rug.
Of course, each animal has its own unique hide and basically no two are ever identical. Natural alpaca furs come in 22 shades of black, brown, ivory, cream, beige, silver and tan. Note that some hides may be advertised as white, but their is no true pure white. Hides are easily dyed to create an even larger color spectrum from which to choose. However, dyed skins can in fact fade if left in the sun, but natural hides retain their original color.
Alpaca rugs come in many different designs, which gives home owners several choices to choose from. Some are offered in solid colors and blend in nicely with home furnishings for living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms. If you prefer more diversity they also come in mixed colors and several designs. You can shop for unusual geometric or southwestern designs combined in several color combinations. Many authentic pieces are carefully hand-stitched by Peruvian artisans.
An authentic skin should feel exceptionally soft and very fluffy. Ideally, they should come with documentation about the source of the hide. Before animal hides are sold they must go through some form of curing. The most desirable type of curing for alpacas is the chromium method. Chromium curing produces a fur that is dense and soft. This makes the hide fairly resistant to humidity absorption and cracking. As a result of this type of curing the hide should last significantly longer than other forms of curing and does not retain a strong odor found with other types of curing.
A flokati rug or sheepskin rug can be hand washed or put through a gentle cycle in a washer, which makes their care easier than that of an alpaca fur rug. Because of the nature of an alpaca skin they require a bit more care. It is not advisable if using the hide as a decorative rug to place it in high traffic areas. They certainly can be used as a floor covering, but will not take the abuse of constant traffic.
Do not attempt to machine wash an alpaca fur. They are too delicate and if they really require a thorough cleaning it should be done by a furrier. To clean small spots your can wipe with a mixture of mild dish soap, water and a sponge taking care not to permeate the leather.
Use a pet brush made of wire to fluff up the wool as needed if it should become matted. Apply a small quantity of talcum powder and then brush it out. This is the best method for keeping the fur smelling fresh and clean.
An alpaca rug should not be stored in a plastic bag long term. This could result in a build up of condensation, which is not advisable for this type of skin. When not on display, store the skin out of direct sunlight in a cool dry location.