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How to Care for Natural Fur Coats

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How to Care for Natural Fur Coats

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

If you have a natural fur coat or any garment trimmed with animal fur, it takes special care to keep it looking its best. If you have bought the garment used and are unsure if the fur is animal or synthetic, the first step is to do a burn test. Natural animal hair burns quickly while synthetic fur will melt.

Everyday Care Tips

  • Your fur coat should always be hung on a broad, sturdy padded hanger to keep the shoulders from loosing their shape. The neck of the hanger should be long enough to keep the collar of the coat away from the hanging rod.
  • Do not hang your fur in a garment bag, especially a plastic bag that doesn't breathe. The fur needs air circulation to keep the hide from drying out and cracking.
  • 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. Wearing a scarf around your neck will prevent body soil and make-up from soiling your coat.
  • Avoid using hairspray or perfume when wearing your coat. The formulas of most brands contain alcohol which can dry the hides. Any oils may penetrate the fur and eventually become rancid. The odor is nearly impossible to remove.
  • When sitting for a long period of time, your coat should be removed 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.

    How to Clean Animal Fur

  • If you get caught in a light rain or snow, simply shake it out and remove as much water as possible. Hang it to dry in a well-ventilated room. Do not use a hair dryer, clothes dryer or any direct heat on the fur. After it is dry, shake again to fluff the fur - do not comb or brush - simply smooth the fur with your hand.
  • If your coat gets completely soaked with water, you should take it to a professional fur cleaner immediately.
  • Your coat should be cleaned every year by a professional fur cleaner - not a dry cleaner. Even if you don't wear it often, animal fur gathers dust, oils and odors. Professional cleaning will add luster and shine to the fur and keep it from becoming matted.

    Professional Fur Cleaning Process

  • A fur professional will inspect your coat for stains, rips and tears. The linings are 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 finally, hand steamed to remove any final residue.
  • The next process involves "electrifying" the coat. Using large rollers, electricity used to make each hair lift, separate and lie in the same direction. It is similar to static electricity that makes each of our hairs stand separately on our heads.

    Off-season Storage of Fur

  • 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 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 fifty 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 furs in the coolest closet possible and always in the dark. Check frequently for insect activity - especially moths.

    Specific questions? Just ask here.

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