Picture this. Winter finally rolls around and you rush to your closet to take out the fur coat you have been dying to wear for months. Prepare for your heart to shatter if you failed to clean and care for this iconic piece before placing it in storage.
A fur coat that has been maintained properly can last for years. Even though a professional furrier can ensure it retains its luster, stains should be cleaned up as soon as possible which you can do yourself.
Why Fur Coats Should Be Cleaned Regularly
There are basically two reasons why fur should be cleaned regularly even if it LOOKS as if it is pristine:
To remove stains and dirt – No matter how careful you are, accidents are sometimes unavoidable especially if you are out partying and get a bit tipsy or spill something on your expensive fur. Besides drink and food stains, this can also include dirt and debris from the elements which can snag onto the material.
To maintain the natural fibers – A lot of fur owners don’t realize this but the reason why real fur looks and feels so good is because of the natural oils that the hair releases. That is what maintains that sheen you love so much. However, as the coat gets dusty and dirty with use, that oil absorbs everything which means it cannot keep the coat looking pristine. When that dust and dirt builds up over time it wears away the nature fibers leading to a dull, patchy and unhealthy looking fur coat.
Fur coats and especially those that are made from natural fur should be cleaned at least once a year. This should be done during the summer when the coats are not in use. However, if your fur becomes stained and grimy because of excessive use during the winter clean it once every 6 months to retain its quality.
No, you should not chuck your expensive fur into the washing machine! That will ruin it permanently. Appropriate cleaning techniques and cleaning products that are gentle but effective on fur can increase the coat’s lifespan.
Here are some techniques you can use to clean your coat if you cannot take it to a professional furrier:
Use a Fur Brush
Layers of dirt and dust in a fur coat cannot be removed with a simple rubdown. You may end up rubbing it in further! On a dry and sunny day, take the coat outside and give it a good shake to dislodge debris and dirt. Once most of it falls off, use a fur brush to brush the fur and remove larger dirt particles. This brush is made from bristles that are quite similar to those in a pet’s brush. A fur brush is designed specifically to comb out large matted clumps without breaking off healthy fibers. It will make fur coat cleaning way more convenient.
Use a Clean and Damp Cloth for Small Stains
If your precious fur coat gets a small stain, don’t try to rub it off with your fingers. Unlike cloth, the droplets will get absorbed by the fur so you won’t be doing the material any favors. Take a clean cloth, dampen it and dab at the stain gently. Don’t rub or you will end up pressing the stain into the delicate fibers.
Make sure that you use a very small amount of water so that the fur can remain as dry as possible. If the material gets wet from the rain or snow, shake out as much moisture as you can when you get home and allow it to air dry. Whatever you do, don’t use soap on the fur as that can prevent the fur from producing oil.
Use Sawdust for Larger Stains
If your fur coat has a larger stain, on the other hand, the damp cloth trick won’t work but the sawdust technique will. This is a fur coat cleaning tip that professional furriers but it can also be done at home. All you need to do is lay down the coat on a flat and clean surface, sprinkle sawdust over the large stains and leave it overnight. The sawdust will absorb the dirt and you can remove it with a vacuum in the morning. Make sure that you set it up for gentle suction so as not to damage the fur. Plus, if you have allergies, make sure that you wear a mask and keep the windows open.
After cleaning your fur coat, you should store it properly especially if you don’t plan on wearing it for a few months. While cold storage is the best solution that may not be an option for all fur owners. If you are storing the fur at home yourself, here are a couple of things you should know:
- Do not store the fur in a plastic bag. Natural fur needs to breathe or it loses its sheen and luster. Store it in a cotton pillowcase to ensure the delicate fibers don’t get crushed.
- Do not allow the fur to be exposed to direct light. This can cause discoloration and oxidization, both of which can damage the material irreparably.
- Don’t store the fur coat in a closet or chest that is made from cedar. The oils from the wood will pull moisture from the fur making it weak and brittle. To keep moths away, place cedar packets in the pockets only.
- Don’t place mothballs with the fur coat when you put it away in storage. These are made from naphthalene which can react with the air and the natural oil in the fur to produce a noxious gas. The reaction and gas can cause irreparable damage to the fur and leather in the coat.
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