Whether you have a new or vintage fur coat, keeping it clean is vital for its longevity. Much like leather shoes though, a fur coat needs to be cleaned differently to one made from other fabrics.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to clean a fur coat. Before jumping into the method, we’ll first discuss the differences between natural and faux fur.
Working Out Whether Your Fur Is Natural or Synthetic
Knowing if you have a natural or synthetic fur coat is necessary for deciding which cleaning method is correct. There are three main ways to figure it out:
1. Check the label
Your fur coat should have some kind of label inside it that, at the very least, should tell you the manufacturer.
More modern garments should also have a care label, often sewn into a bottom or side seam.
This should be your first option for determining if your fur is real or fake. Fake fur is made from plastic, and the label should state this.
Similarly, real fur (on newer garments) will often be labelled as such.
2. Look at the fur
Fake furs are far more realistic than they used to be, but a close inspection should tell them apart.
Real fur is soft and smooth and should roll easily between your fingers. Faux fur should feel rougher and should all be a consistent length and colour. Real fur has a far more natural appearance.
3. The burn test
If you’ve got a really good fake on your hands and looking isn’t enough, the final step is the burn test. Trim a few hairs from an inconspicuous area and put them in a fire-safe dish (such as an ashtray).
Burn them with a flame. Real fur smells like burnt human hair and will turn to ash very quickly. Fake fur will melt and smells like burning plastic (because it is!).
Once you’ve figured out if your fur coat is real or synthetic, you can follow the relevant care steps to clean it.
How to Clean a Fake Fur Coat
Fake fur can be washed at home. Ideally, you’ll want to hand wash it in lukewarm water with a teaspoon or two of mild laundry detergent.
Submerge the coat and gently agitate it. Then, submerge it in clean water to rinse it and allow it to air dry lying flat.
Check the care label if you have one. You might be able to machine-wash your faux fur coat, but only do so if the label says you can.
You’ll want to use a gentle, 30-degree Celsius wash with low spin, and put the coat in a delicates bag.
How to Clean a Real Fur Coat
Cleaning real fur is far more complex than faux fur. As with leather shoes, you need to avoid removing the natural oils that give the fur its sheen. This means no laundry detergent or other products that might risk breaking down the oil.
We therefore need to tackle cleaning a fur coat from a few angles:
Removing stains and marks
If you spill something on your fur coat, try to remove it as quickly as possible. Dab the stain with a clean damp cloth to blot out as much as you can.
You’ll want to dab rather than rub the stain, just as you would with carpet, wool, or pretty much any other fabric.
Ideally, you’ll have a storage bag for your fur coat. If not, invest in one ASAP. This should help avoid musty smells or damage during storage. But you can also use it to help remove odours from wearing your coat.
Hang the coat up in its bag. Fill a small container or sandwich bag with either ground coffee or bicarbonate of soda.
Put the unsealed container in the bottom of the coat’s bag, zip it up, and leave it for a couple of days. Your coat should come out smelling fresh.
Removing dust and debris
The easiest way to remove dust and debris from a fur coat is to shake it. Give it a few gentle shakes and it should dislodge any debris that’s become caught in the fibres. If that doesn’t work, the next tip should help.
Maintaining a fur coat’s sheen and fibres
You can get specialist brushes for fur coats. However, any soft-bristled brush will work fine, whether it’s a human or pet one. After all, you’re basically brushing the coat’s hair
The bristles can be natural or synthetic, just make sure they’re soft. Something like this Belula Hair Brush is a good example of what you want.
Brush the fur following the grain (the direction the hairs are facing), just as you would if brushing a pet. Do it gently and methodically, and it’ll help restore a bit of the fur’s lustre.
Getting your fur coat professionally cleaned
Although they’re a dying breed, the best place to get your coat cleaned is at a furrier. These are specialists who work with fur, but you might not find one in your local area.
If not, the next best thing is a dry cleaner that has experience dealing with fur. It’s a fairly specialist product, so it’s worth searching around for someone who knows what they’re doing.
Unlike suits or other dry-clean-only garments, fur needs its natural oils restored as part of the cleaning process.
You should aim to get your fur coat professionally cleaned once a year to keep it looking its best for as long as possible.
As you can see, the steps for how to clean a fur coat are dependent on whether it’s real or fake.
Fake fur is much easier to clean at home, as you can generally wash it. However, if you’ve made the investment in a real fur coat, you should already know it’s a more specialist product. Considering the price, having it professionally cleaned seems like a no-brainer!
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.