How to care for a real fur coat
A detailed guide on how to care for a real fur coat, how to store fur during summer, how to repair fur when damaged and general tips from a fur specialist.
Fur used to be a synonum to wealth, fame and special occasions but that has changed dramatically. Today fur coats are worn on daily basis and the styling obeys any old rules, depending only to one’s taste. In a simple search you will find full-length sleeveless sable vests, lightweight sheared mink cropped jackets, fur-lined biker jackets, colorful fur bombers and inspiring fur bags both on the fashion runways and the busy city streets. In a strange way, most of fur garments look vintage, even if they are part of one brand’s latest collection or dyed in a not-found-in-nature color. Thus, the same fur coat can be styled for many different looks, which is one of its greatest advantages. But what many do not realise is that a fur is a natural material that will not last forever.
Of course, the fact that fur coat won’t last forever doesn’t necessary mean that it will serve you only one season. On the contrary, a fur garment can last for decades. A high quality sable coat for example will last for generations if you take care of it. The truth is that you have no idea how to care for a real fur coat until the moment you get one. If that time has come for you, have in mind that a real fur coat is not an ordinary coat. It needs a bit of extra attention even if it’s gonna be your everyday coat.
What can harm your fur coat?
In order to understand how to care for a real fur coat, you have to understand first what can harm your precious garment: heat, moisture, light, insects and the everyday conditions in your house and car can damage your fur.
Heat – Fur performs great in cold weather conditions but it hates heat. Heat can dry out the pelts, leaving your fur with a dull, dry appearance. Too much heat will cause your fur coat to become brittle, resulting in serious damage.
Humidity – Both highs and lows of humidity will affect your coat’s natural oils. Too much or too little moisture in the air will disrupt the natural balance.
Light – Sunlight may seem innocuous, but direct light will oxidize your fur, causing unattractive color changes.
Pests – Do you know who else loves your fur as much as you do? Vermin and insects. These critters can burrow into your fur leaving holes, rips, or stains.
There are simple ways to keep your fur coat looking great and maximise its lifespan. The most important rules of fur care are proper seasonal storage, yearly cleaning and repair if necessary. Here is a detailed quide on how to care for a real fur coat. This will help you avoid common mistakes and maintain your beautiful garment for long.
How to care for a real fur coat at home
The most important part of fur care is proper storage and conditioning. Furs will dry out quickly without proper storage conditions, which are 50 degrees Fahrenheit with 50% humidity. This is hard to be replicated at home so try to follow as much as possible these tips:
- No matter how rare or often you wear your fur coat, you expose it to outdoor conditions like humidity. Even if it’s not obvious and like any other coat, your fur coat needs some space to dry so try to storage it in a closet with not so many clothes. In that way you will protect your coat from loosing it’s original shape and fluffiness.
- Again, no matter how rare or often you wear your fur, don’t try to fit it in a tiny part of your closet. Squeezing it between clothes will flatten your fur coat and cause unnecessary friction which leads to shedding. Your fur will look like worn out.
- Remember that animal fur gathers dust, oils, and odors easily so a specious cloth bag is a good solution – a plastic cloth bag is a bad idea as it won’t allow your fur coat to breathe, a cotton cloth bag is the best choice.
- If you get caught in rain or snow, simply take the fur coat by the shoulders and shake it out to remove as much water as possible. Hang it to dry in a well ventilated area in your home but do not use a hair dryer, clothes dryer and do not hang the fur towards air conditioning systems or any other hot air source. After it is dry, shake again to fluff the fur and gently smooth the fur with your hand. If your fur coat gets completely soaked with water, you should take it to a professional fur cleaner immediately.
- Avoid using mothballs around your fur at home. The strong odor will latch onto your coat and it’s hard to get rid of that. Plus to that, mothballs absorb humidity so using them carries the risk of creating a dry atmosphere which, as said earlier, is not a proper condition for fur coats.
- Only use a plastic or wooden broad-shouldered hanger to support the weight of a fur coat. Thin hangers, no matter if they are plastic, wooden or metallic, will deform the garment’s shoulders and sleeves or even the whole shape of it.
- Brush the fur while it hangs using a fur brush. Begining from the top of the coat, work your way to the bottom, brushing in the direction of the hair. Make short, even strokes and work a small section at a time. Avoid making long strokes as this can cause the coat to stretch. Purchace a fur brushes as these have a special design: wider spaced teeth and soft edges, which prevent the brush from damaging the skin of the fur. If you do not have a fur brush, the best you can do is run your fingers through the fur to help clear-out any dirt or debris. Never brush your fur with a “normal” brush – the teeth on a normal brush are too fine and will damage the fur.
- Light stains can be removed by a simple homemade solution: mix one-part isopropyl alcohol with one-part water and apply directly to the stain. Do not try to remove stains with any type of cleaner, no matter how gentle it is. If you are not sure how to handle a stain, refer to a professional fur cleaner as soon as possible.
General tips on how to care for a real fur coat
- Avoid spraying perfume, hairspray or any other spray around your coat since these can upset the natural balance of oils in your furs. Also, avoid cigarette smoke if possible so the odor does not get trapped in your coat.
- If you carry a purse/handbag, do not hang it on your elbow or let it continuously rub against the fur as this induces it to shed. Continuous friction will cause the fur to wear down. Avoid backpacks when wearing your fur coat.
- Remove your fur coat before sitting down to avoid extra stress on the seams.
- When driving or sitting in a car, it’s advised to take your fur coat off, if possible. Driving or sitting in a car can crush the lower and the back part of the fur while seat belts can damage the front. In order to enjoy your fur in a car, think of purchasing specially designed seat belt and sitting accessories. Also take it easy with the air conditioning and the seat heating – fur and heat are not the best friends.
- Refrain from pinning pins or brooches directly on your fur as these can stain or wear down the fur in the particular point they are placed.
- Find a professional furrier for your repairs. Repairing a fur coat is not like repairing cloth or denim. Never take your fur to a regular tailor or try to fix it at home. Traditional methods will not properly mend your coat, and one wrong cut or stitch can ruin it.
- Periodically check your fur coat for any signs of damage throughout the year. Fur is a delicate material. As soon as you notice a tear, rip, or snag in your fur coat or jacket, have it repaired immediately and always go to an experienced furrier. These minor issues may seem like they can wait, but small damage can grow into expensive problems.
- Your coat should be cleaned every year by a professional fur cleaner – not a dry cleaner. It is necessary to keep your fur looking new every year. Even if you don’t wear it often and it doesn’t look particularly dirty, don’t avoid yearly cleaning. The number one reason to clean your fur is to preserve the natural oils in each pelt. Professional fur cleaning will add luster and shine to the fur and keep it from becoming matted.
How to care for a real fur coat – Storage
Where to store a fur coat at home
Fur does better in cold, dark places with 45-50% humidity. The typicall parts of a house offering such conditions are the basement or the attic but unfortunatelly these are not the best places to store your fur. A basement might be the darkest part of a house but it’s not the right place for a fur coat because the humidity is higher and usually the ventilation is not the best possible. An attic with a window can be dark enough if you have blinds plus it has better air quality. But you have to keep in the weather of your area and the high temperatures during summer, which will affect the temperature in the attic. All that unless you can control the conditions in all areas of your house. Then, it only depends on the space availability.
When to put a fur coat into storage
This depends on the weather conditions of the place where you live. There is no exact time frame for when to put your fur coat into storage. Generally, it’s best to do so when it’s too warm to wear your fur.
Why to choose a professional fur storage
The best thing you can do for your fur garments is to store them in professional fur storage off-season. As much as you control the conditions in your house, no closets or wardrobe will consistently maintain the conditions necessary to properly protect your fur. Professional fur vaults are specially designed to maintain the perfect conditions for fur all the time, which slows the aging process of your fur. They will protect against humidity and temperature changes, pests, and light and it’s a relatively inexpensive way to make sure your fur looks great for years.
How to care for a real fur coat – Repair
Common repairs of a fur coat
Common repairs include updating worn edges around cuffs or collars, replacing tired looking fur, stitching up holes, repair broken or loose seams, sewing buttons and changing the lining. In some cases, additional matching fur will be added to your coat if the pelts are weak and brittle. For proper repairs, the coat is opened and the reconstruction is completed on the inside below the lining. This will make stronger, longer lasting and discrete repairs that won’t be visible when you wear the fur coat again.
Why choose a professional furrier
The everyday tools at most tailors or at home cannot hold repairs on a fur. Only a professional furrier has the proper tools, needles, and threads for this delicate process. As mentioned earlier, repairing a fur coat is not like repairing cloth or denim and traditional methods will not properly mend your coat. One wrong cut or stitch can destroy a fur garment, no matter how good the tailor is. It’s like having your auto mechanic fix an airplane.
Instead of pushing your luck, try locating an experienced fur salon with an in-house furrier to ensure quality repair work. The best furriers have extensive experience, training for years with industry masters and in many types of furs including mink, fox, chinchilla, rabbit, and more. And in those cases, when additional fur will have to be added to your coat, a professional fur servicer will carefully source the right fur to match your coat.
How to care for a real fur coat – Cleaning
Why should I clean my fur coat
It is much easier and less expensive to preserve your real fur than buying a new one every year, right? And as already said, it takes simple steps to protect your fur. One of the best ways to maintain your real fur is to schedule a professional cleaning appointment once a year. If a serious stain occurs, make sure you get it cleaned as soon as possible once more.
By cleaning your fur, you preserve the natural oils in each pelt. Run your hand along the fur and your fingers through the hair – do you feel a slight oilness? It’s a good sign, if you do, and a bad if you don’t. In every healthy, real fur coat, there should be a slight feeling of oiliness. Without these essential oils, your fur coat will dry out quickly, losing its luster and possibly resulting in permanent damage. Plus to that, you will also get rid of dust, extraneous oils and odors that might be caught on your coat and give your fur its original fluffiness.
Why should I go to a professional fur cleaner
Always take your coat to a professional fur cleaner. Never take your coat to a regular dry cleaner or risk cleaning your coat at home. Dry cleaners are a practical choice for the majority of your garments but lack the appropriate knowledge for fur. On the other hand, home cleaning products can seriously damage or stain a delicate material like fur.
A professional fur cleaning salon will know how to properly clean, condition, and glaze your coat. Fur conditioning and glazing are two very important steps. Both of them cannot be done at home or at a dry cleaner that doesn’t have the appropiate equipment. Both conditioning and glazing add a protective layer that acts as a barrier against dirt, dust, extraneous oils and odors. Plus they leave your coat feeling like brand new.
When should I clean my fur coat
The most convenient time to clean your fur is before it goes into professional storage. Having your coat cleaned before storage means it will come out fresh and clean for the next winter, with a healthy shine and a wonderful smell.