When the winter months roll around, you may be thinking of getting your fur coat out of storage and wearing it to keep yourself cosy and warm. Fur coats, whether made from real fur or synthetic fibres, are excellent at keeping the chills at bay, but they can be challenging to clean. The most common option for cleaning fur is to take it to a professional furrier, where a sawdust treatment is used to avoid damaging the fur through water exposure. However, this can be expensive, and at a time when most of us are trying to save the pennies, we’re starting to look for more cost effective treatments we can try at home that are effective, safe, and great value for money.
If in doubt about your ability to clean a fur coat at home, you can always seek advice from a dry cleaner or furrier.
Why clean fur?
There are two reasons why it’s important to clean fur. The first reason is the most obvious – to remove any dirt or stains on the coat. As careful as we may be, accidents do happen, and some of us have found our costly coats covered in all sorts of dirt over the years. The second reason is slightly less obvious, and it’s something that many fur owners don’t fully realise. The reason that fur – real fur – looks so good is because natural oils continue to be released from the hairs, which maintains a healthy shine. As the coat gathers everyday dust and dirt, oils are absorbed into the coating of dust and can’t do their job of keeping the coat looking great. These dust and dirt particles also have a very mild abrasive property, and while they don’t pose an imminent risk to your fur, if left to build up over time, they can start to wear away at the fibres. The result is a dull, unhealthy looking fur coat that’s starting to sprout bald patches.
Furriers recommend that fur coats should be cleaned at least once per year, preferably during the summer months when the coat isn’t required for warmth. However, if your coat becomes very dirty or stained, or if you wear your coat a great deal over the winter months (particularly if you sweat into the coat, or smoke), you should aim to clean your coat every six months to ensure it stays clean and healthy. Regular cleaning using the appropriate techniques and cleaning products can really help to extend the lifetime of your fur coat.
A step-by-step guide to cleaning fur
If you do decide that you’d like to clean your fur coat at home rather than taking it to a furrier for a professional clean, follow these steps to ensure you’re cleaning effectively, efficiently, and without posing a risk to your delicate material:
On a dry day, take your coat outside and give it a good shake, which will dislodge and remove any dust particles. Large dirt particles can be removed by using a fur brush. A fur brush is usually made with wire bristles and doesn’t look too dissimilar from a pet fur brush. The wire design works to draw out large clumps of matting, while still keeping healthy hair intact.
For very small stains, lightly dampen a clean cloth and gently dab across the dirty mark – don’t rub or scrub. It’s important that you only use a very tiny amount of water, as it’s best to keep fur as dry as possible (if it gets wet in the rain or snow, shake out as much moisture as possible once you get home). Don’t be tempted to use soaps as these can prevent the fur from producing oils. Allow to dry naturally.
For larger stains, you can recreate the sawdust technique used by professional furriers in the comfort of your own home. Lay your coat down on a clean, flat surface, and sprinkle sawdust over the dirty or stained areas (if you suffer from allergies, always wear a mask and keep your windows open for good ventilation). Leave the sawdust on the coat overnight, allowing it to absorb dirt. Vacuum up the sawdust in the morning, using the upholstery setting that creates a very gentle suction.
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Fur coats, both authentic and synthetic, require a little more care than some other garments, but it’s really not difficult or time consuming to keep a fur coat looking clean and healthy. While you can take your fur coat to a furrier (and this is certainly recommended if you’re dealing with very visible, very stubborn stains), there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t try tackling smaller stains and everyday dirt and dust at home. It’s a much more cost-effective option and, as long as you stay away from soaps, large amounts of water, and vigorous brushing, you should be able to protect your coat from the risk of damage.