How to Care for Natural Fur Coats

Natural Fur Coats

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If you have a new or vintage natural fur coat or any garment trimmed with animal fur, it takes special care to keep it looking its best.

Warning

A natural fur coat should be cleaned every year by a professional furrier or a dry cleaner who specializes in cleaning fur. Do not attempt to wash a real fur coat at home.

Even if you don't wear it often, animal hides can dry out if not cleaned and conditioned yearly and animal fur gathers dust, oils, and odors. A professional cleaning will add luster and shine to the fur and keep it from shedding.

How to Clean a Natural Fur Coat
Detergent None
Water Temperature None
Cycle Type Do not wash
Drying Cycle Air-dry damp furs
Special Treatments Professional cleaning required
Iron Settings Do not iron

Project Metrics

Work time: 30 minutes

Total time: 24 hours

Skill Level: Beginner

What You'll Need

Tools

  • Sturdy, padded hanger
  • Cotton garment bag

Instructions for Everyday Care

  1. Use the Right Clothes Hanger

    Your fur coat should always be hung on a broad, sturdy padded hanger to keep the shoulders from losing their shape. The neck of the hanger should be long enough to keep the collar of the coat away from the hanging rod.

  2. Protect the Fur From Dust

    Unless you are wearing the fur every day, use a 100 percent cotton bag to keep dust out of the fur. Do not hang a fur in a plastic bag that doesn't breathe. The fur needs air circulation to keep the hide from drying out and cracking.

  3. Prevent Matting

    Do not leave jewelry pinned to your coat as it can mat the fur. When wearing your coat, do not use a shoulder bag consistently because it can wear away the fur and leave a bald spot.

  4. Avoid Staining

    Wearing a scarf around your neck will prevent body soil and make-up from soiling your coat collar. Avoid using hairspray or applying perfume when wearing your coat. The formulas of most brands contain alcohol which can dry the hides. Any oils in the products may penetrate the fur and eventually become rancid. The odor is nearly impossible to remove.

  5. Prevent Crushing the Fur

    If you will be sitting for a long period, you should take your coat off to avoid crushing the fur. If you can't remove the coat, try to change positions often so that the fur will not be crushed in one spot over and over again. If possible, remove your coat and use it more like a blanket in your lap.

  6. Get Rid of Excess Moisture

If you get caught in light rain or snow, simply shake out the fur and remove as much water as possible. Hang it to dry in a well-ventilated room. Do not use a hairdryer, clothes dryer, or any direct heat on the fur. After it is dry, shake again to fluff the fur. Do not comb or brush the fur, simply smooth the fur with your hand.

Tip

If you have a natural or faux fur hat, take special care if it becomes wet. Proper reshaping is necessary to help these hats hold their shape.

If your coat gets completely soaked with water, it should be taken to a professional fur cleaner immediately so the hides can be treated correctly to prevent shrinkage.

Off-Season Storage

Natural fur hates heat. It is not the actual hair that is affected, it is the hide or leather that can dry out, become stiff, and crack. The optimum storage temperature for natural fur is 45 degrees F and 50 percent humidity. In fur storage vaults, the room is dark which prevents bleaching and fading of the color. Moths and other insects cannot survive at that temperature.

Furs that are properly stored during hot weather can last up to 50 years or more.

If you decide not to use a professional storage facility, do not store your coat in a cedar closet or chest. The oils can harm the fur. Keep the fur in the coolest closet possible and always in the dark. Check frequently for insect activity, especially moths.

Repairs

All repairs to the fur, alterations, and replacements of the lining should be done by a professional furrier. A tailor or seamstress can repair rips in the lining.

Tip

If you bought the fur garment used and are unsure if the fur is animal or synthetic, the first step is to do a burn test.

  1. Simply snip a few strands from an inconspicuous spot.
  2. Place the fur strands in a heat-resistant dish like an ashtray and light with a match.
  3. Natural animal hair will burn quickly to ash while synthetic fur will melt.

What Happens During the Professional Cleaning Process

  • A fur professional will inspect your coat for stains, rips, and tears.
  • The lining is hand-cleaned with specific attention to spots and stains.
  • The fur is then placed in a large drum filled with sawdust and an environmentally-safe cleaning solution. The coat is tumbled in this drum which draws the dirt and oils from the fur. The coat is then vacuumed to remove the sawdust and hand steamed to remove any final residue.
  • The next process involves "electrifying" the coat. Using large rollers, electricity is used to make each hair lift, separate, and lie in the same direction. The process is similar to static electricity that makes each of our hairs stand separately on our heads.