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Fursuits, as amazing as they are, can be a real pain when it comes to keeping them clean. Regardless of how much you try and prevent it, eventually, all fursuiters will have a pair of smelly paws that need some TLC. However, with such a significant upfront investment in a suit, you want to make sure you are doing right. So in this article, we will help you beat the funk, taking you through some of the best tips on how to clean fursuits.
Here are the top ways to keep your fursuit clean:
- Understand your fursuit’s material composition
- Know the maintenance consequences of specific faux fur colors
- Maintain separate indoor and outdoor fursuit accessories
- Keep your body as dry as possible
- Avoid oil-based cleaners and aerosols
- Clean fursuit using a washing machine or bathtub
- Brush your fursuit fur after cleaning
1) Understand your fursuit’s material composition
Having a firm understanding of your fursuit’s material composition will always be helpful when determining how to best care for your costume. For example, most custom-made fursuits use a synthetic material called faux fur, which is fake fur composed of polymers, acrylics, and modacrylics. These types of fibers don’t play nicely with excessive heat from sources such as electric dryers or radiators, and can ultimately destroy the suit’s material.
Also, frequently submerging faux fur material in water or exposing it to harsh detergents are typically not good ideas for the long-term care of the suit. When you get your fursuit commissioned, make sure to check with its’ creator to confirm the materials used so you know exactly the best methods for cleaning. Their specific instructions should always supersede the care alternatives highlighted in this article.
2) Know the maintenance consequences of specific faux fur colors
One important consideration that many new fursuiters forget to think about is the impact of choosing specific costume colors and their effects on maintenance and cleaning. For example, white is a typical color used within many different fursuit designs, often used in conjunction with other primary or secondary colors. Keep in mind, just like with any other type of garment, white tends to show dirt faster and more distinctly than darker colors. The consequence of choosing white or other light colors could have you spending many more hours cleaning your fursuit.
3) Maintain separate indoor and outdoor fursuit accessories
Perhaps one of the single best ways to protect your fursuit is to maintain separate indoor and outdoor pairs of garments such as hand and feet paws. The reason being is that the material and padding on fursuit paws aren’t typically designed to withstand the pounding of outdoor elements like a pair of Timberland boots. Fursuits are very vulnerable to color damage from mud, dirt, and grim, particularly if they are mixed with other elements such as rain or snow.
Similar to the approach a dog owner employs when their pet walks inside the house from outside, consider having a pair of paws suitable for each location. Our advice is to order a separate pair of paws for both indoor and outdoor activities. Another alternative would be to only wear a partial fursuit, such as head and hand paws, with tennis shoes when outdoors.
4) Keep your body as dry as possible
While you may be doing a great job keeping the outside of your fursuit clean from the elements, often the silent killer comes from within. Your sweat! Many fursuiters will wear a regular t-shirt and shorts under their suit, but this is usually a big mistake. Ordinary cotton or polyester fabrics easily retain water from your sweat and quickly spread the love to the rest of your suit. Many people claim to be “completely soaked” under their suits while wearing them, and this is primarily due to a combination of the person’s internal body heat and the type of clothes they wear.
Also, as more water enters the suit, bacteria and mold growth can become a more significant issue and could potentially damage the costume long-term. One way to overcome this is to use breathable undergarments that are designed to keep you fresh and dry like Under Armor shirts, leggings, socks, and caps.
Bonus Tip: Always make sure to shower before wearing a fursuit.
5) Avoid oil-based cleaners and aerosols
One of the most obvious ways to disinfect and treat your fursuit would be to use a household cleaning product such as Lysol or Febreeze; however, this could be a costly mistake! As a rule of thumb, stay away from hardcore synthetic oil-based cleaners and aerosols because they can not only damage the fur quality but also clog the pores of the costume itself. This has the potential to cause odor and a host of other issues. Also, avoid fragrant spray deodorants when treating the suit as they could also contain oil-based ingredients.
One of the better ways to disinfect and clean your fursuit is to use 50% or 70% Isopropyl clear rubbing alcohol (not the green liquid) found at a drug store, mixed with water in a spray bottle. If possible, try to avoid 90% Isopropyl alcohol due to its increased strength. An ideal proportion is approximately 1-part rubbing alcohol to 1-part water (50/50). Shake well, and test spot cleaning small regions on the costume first, such as the bottom of the foot paws, using the spray, gently wiping as needed with a clean white cloth. After cleaning, remember to keep your suit in a well-ventilated area and consider using a fan to help dry.
6) Clean fursuit using a washing machine or bathtub
Inevitably, there will come a time when spot cleaning will not get the job done, and you may need to take things up a notch with some mechanical intervention. However, bear in mind that the synthetic material composition of faux fur can make cleaning the suit in a washing machine problematic without taking some precautions. For this reason, many people highly recommend manually cleaning your fursuit in a bathtub over a washing machine, as even the gentle cycle in the washing machine can be harsh on faux fur. Regardless of the approach, here are a few tips to keep in mind when cleaning the suit in either a washing machine or bathtub:
- Remove interior padding and foam (if possible)
- Disconnect any electronics built into the suit before washing
- Turn each piece inside out before washing (i.e., bodysuit, tail, paws)
- Consider putting all the fursuit pieces in a washable garment bag before machine washing
- Use a gentle and clear detergent (ex: Woolite Extra Delicates)
- Apply gentle cycle washing machine settings
- Remember always to use cold water
- Air-dry the suit by evenly distributing articles and suit weight on a breathable surface
7) Brush fursuit fur after cleaning
Any time after your fursuit has gotten wet, it’s recommended to brush your fur to keep it from experiencing a matte or collapsed fur look. A standard dog or cat Slicker Brush is a good option for helping restore the fluffy fur look to your fursuit after a wash. A best practice is to brush your fur multiple times during the drying period, as this can help restore more fluffiness and help prevent the matted fur look.