Fur Clothing and Accessories: Cleaning and Maintenance

It seems fur is still having a bit of a fashion moment, but have you thought about what you’re going to do when it’s time to clean it? Don’t panic. We’ve got this.

Well, to begin with, we should offer you heartfelt congratulations. You’ve been lusting after that gorgeous fur piece for a while now, and finally decided to take the plunge and make the investment. Good for you. As the commercial says, you’re worth it.

Sooner or later though, you’re going to have to clean it. While we don’t think for a minute that you are the type to try and throw a vintage fur stole in the washing machine (you’re not, are you?), cleaning fur clothing or handbag can sometimes not be as straightforward as one might think. There are different techniques for different types of fur, specific ways to store it, and all kinds of ways you can inadvertently sully your beautiful investment.

But before I get you all worked-up, I should point out that there is plenty of good help out there when it comes to the cleaning and maintenance of your precious fur. Ours is but an overview of what is available for you, help point you in the right direction, and keep that investment piece looking as good as the day you bought it.

Play it cool


If you are wearing your fur clothing only for the cold weather portion of the year, it’s a good idea to store it in cold storage during the off season. Storing your fur at a colder temperature decreases the chance that it will age prematurely by becoming dried-out or oxidized.

No, that does not mean you can roll it up and stuff it in the back of the refrigerator alongside the dill pickles. There are actually climate-controlled storage units that are specifically designed to store fur clothing. If you need help finding such a place, check with the retailer who sold the bag or garment to you.

Give it some space


Hey, we all need our space, am I right? A fur investment piece is no different. Although it may seem counterintuitive, resist the urge to store your fur in a bag or box. Bags and bins that are plastic or rubber prevent air from circulating around your fur, causing moisture levels to alter drastically. This can potentially damage the fur and the underlying leather by either drying it out too much or trapping-in too much moisture.

Additionally, bags and bins crush the hairs on a garment or bag, leading to many broken hairs on your investment, and the formation of unattractive bald patches that can occur over time. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent for the comb-over for fur clothing and handbags.

It may seem to go against everything you have ever been told, but do not store a fur garment in a cedar closet or chest. Cedar is a highly-absorbent wood which will dry out your fur, and despite what you may have been told, does not protect a fur garment of bag from insect damage. The oils in cedar can also harm the fur, so it’s best to find another place.

If you must leave your fur hanging in a closet year-round, make sure it is cool, dark, and there is plenty of ventilation. Use a thick, broad-shouldered hangar in wood or velvet-coated plastic so that your fur maintains its beautiful shape.

Seek timely medical attention

If you have met with an unfortunate accident and somehow ripped a hole in your fur, do not wait to have it repaired. Once the underlying fabric leather of a fur piece is ripped, it destabilizes the matrix of the fur, causing a potential landslide of damage if not repaired immediately.

Have even the smallest of tears seen to right as it happens. Experienced fur specialists can work some serious miracles with repairs and remodelling of fur, creating a seamless repair in a perfectly-matched fur. It will be like you never even got stuck in that revolving door at the entrance of the restaurant.

Keeping it clean


Despite what the Hollywood screen sirens of days past have shown us, to keep a fur as clean as possible, make sure that it is nowhere around when you spray perfume, use hand lotion, hairspray, or anything else that may cling to the fur. Many cosmetic products contain alcohol, which can dry out or discolor the fur, and over time things like perfumes and lotions may become rancid if they are absorbed into the matrix of the fur. I know, right? Gross.

If you’re wearing a fur coat or hat, it probably means winter has come, and for a lot of you, there will be snow. If your coat gets caught in a light rain or snowfall, simply shake it out once you have returned to the indoors, hang the garment on its sturdy hangar (or hat form if it is a hat), and allow it to dry naturally. Do not place it next to a fireplace or radiator to speed the process up; you will only succeed in drying your fur out, or worse.

Thorough cleaning of fur clothing should be done once a year, and always by a reputable fur specialist, never a dry cleaner. A fur specialist uses a completely different (and environmentally safe) method of cleaning a fur garment or bag, and will also inspect your fur thoroughly for small signs of damage that may not be apparent to the untrained eye.

While not everyone’s cup of tea, fur has definitely made a comeback over the past few seasons, and therefore, so has the need to understand how to properly care for and store a fur investment piece. With proper care and attention, a fur investment piece can last for the next fifty years, which by my calculations, makes for quite a good investment indeed.

About the author

Kristin Buchholz-MacKillop

Kristin is an American writer based in the Scottish Highlands. She is a saxophonist, an obsessive tennis player, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, and holds a Master's degree as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. She is the author of the online style blog highlandfashionista.com

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