3. GENERAL CLEANING ADVICE
Ok, now we come to the most difficult task of all: Washing of fursuit parts. This is probably one of the most difficult tasks to do/learn simply because of the multitude of various ways to clean fursuit parts. What works for one person or suit may not always work for another. You really have to do your research well and ask plenty of questions.
Before I go any further, THIS IS NOT HOW TO PROPERLY WASH A FURSUIT! VClick picture for larger image.
Scrub a dub dub, Husky in the tub!
Ok, all jokes aside, there are a few different ways of cleaning fursuit parts and each method has it’s own Pros and Cons.* -
You can wash some of the parts by hand in a bathtub or a large plastic container tub. This IMO, presents the safest means of washing, but it is also the most time consuming and labor intensive. * -
Or you can wash some of the parts in a washing machine. Washing/Drying some fursuit parts this way may be faster, but all the spinning and agitation within those machines could damage the suit by putting stress on the seams/fabric, or the claws on handpaws could get damaged, etc., etc. * -
There will also be times when you need to do “spot cleaning” by hand. This allows you to check stains more closely and remove them, but you are only checking certain areas/spots and not cleaning the suit as a “whole”.
When should you clean a fursuit and how often? This is probably one of the most difficult questions to answer. It all depends on a few things:* -
How many times you wear your fursuit. Once a week, Twice a month, Less? Or more?* -
How long you wear your fursuit such as minutes or hours.* -
Where you fursuited such as city street, beach, forest trail, etc. and how dirty you get at a location.
It’s probably best to clean your fursuit after major events such as conventions where you’ll be suiting a lot, or perhaps if you’re suiting during summertime events where you’ll be sweating a lot due to heat. If you’ve been suiting at a lot of smaller events for perhaps shorter periods of time, then maybe washing might not be needed and you only need to do some spot cleaning by hand. The best advice is to use your best judgement/discretion and check your suit often for stains and odors. However, the more times you clean your fursuit parts, then the more stress you’ll put on the fabric/seams of the suit which could rip and/or come undone, and you’ll risk possible other damage to claws, pawpads, airbrushed markings, padding, etc. IMPORTANT NOTES:Test the Cleaning Solutions -
Before preparing to wash any fursuit parts in the bathtub, washing machine, etc., you may want to practice washing/drying and/or spot cleaning some scrap pieces of fur fabric to test various solutions and techniques that will or won’t work for you. Just make sure to follow directions carefully for usage of cleaning solutions and operation of any machines/equipment.Check Fabric Cleaning Instructions -
If you have bought fur, fleece, or other fabrics yourself and constructed your own fursuit rather than commissioning someone, you may wish to check if the store or the website you bought the fur from, or even the manufacturer of the fur, has any specific cleaning instructions which may be different from what is listed in this tutorial.Special Effects (SFX) for Fursuits -
When it comes to “special effects” which have been added to your suit such as, but not limited to:
* Foam padding in special places (Digitigrade legs, Chest muscles, etc.)
* Airbrushed markings on the fursuit
* Claws on hands/feet
* Taxidermy eyes/jawsets
* Wings/feathers and movable wing systems
* Animatronic/electrical items inside fursuit pieces
* Horns/antlers on a fursuit head
........Or any other unique materials, systems, or items that were used in the construction of your suit, then the best advice would be to get any special cleaning instructions from the fursuit maker that you commissioned the fursuit from first, as they will know how your suit was constructed, materials used, and what can or can’t be done in regards for cleaning of those items. If you have any animatronic/electrical or other removable items inside any fursuit pieces, then make sure you remove them (If possible) before you start cleaning your fursuit.Airbrushed Markings – EXTREMELY IMPORTANT:
Fursuits that have airbrushed markings need to be especially careful of cleaning as some inks/dyes that may have been used could smear, run, fade, etc. if washed and/or any cleaning solutions used had any adverse effects on the dyes/inks. Contact a fursuit maker or other fursuiters first before washing a suit to get any special cleaning instructions. You may also need to check any special instructions on bottles of inks/dyes you used if you constructed and airbrushed your own suit. It is also preferable in order to help protect airbrushing from fading/smearing, that you turn your bodysuit and handpaws inside out (if possible) when washing them in the tub or washing machine. Footpaws, Tails, and Heads should preferably be spot cleaned by hand. Fursuit Padding –
Fursuit parts (Digitigrade legs, Handpaws with pawpads, Footpaws, etc.) that have any amount of padding (foam, polyfil, etc.) added to them “may” be able to be washed (NOT FURSUIT HEADS THOUGH!)
, but you will need to be very carefull with foam/padding as it is very difficult to get all the water out of padding and they take a very long time to dry. If it's possible to remove any padding out of your fursuit parts, then please do so before you wash those fursuit pieces. More information about padding will be explained later in this tutorial. Cleaning Deterrgents –
As far as cleaning detergents to use when washing fursuit parts in a tub, sink, or washing machine, the most common to use is Woolite as that is the most delicate for fursuit parts and won’t harm most fabrics. If you don’t have any Woolite or don’t want to use Woolite, then select a different mild detergent and/or fabric softener solution that is color safe for fabrics and also contains NO bleach.
Just remember to read directions carefully for cleaning solutions and also to test them on a scrap piece of fur fabric first to see how well it works. It is also preferable that you do not use any sort of powdered detergent, especially in the washing machine, as there may be the possibility that not all the powder will dissolve in the water and you may be left with undissolved powder residue on your fursuit pieces. It is preferable that you use liquid detergents only. Dry Cleaning Stores –
Another important piece of information is to never take your fursuit to a professional dry cleaning shop. Dry cleaners may not have any experience working with/cleaning mascot suits, plus the fact that they use steam/heat for some of their cleaning processes, and also they may use cleaning solutions or other agents that you might not be familiar with and could possibly harm the fursuit. Heat –
The most important bit of advice on cleaning a suit has to do with heat. Washing and drying fursuit parts with any amount of heat, whether it is from hot water in the washer/tub or hot circulated air in a dryer, or heat from any other source, will melt and damage the fur fibres of the fabic. Once this happens, there is no way to return the fur fabric to it’s original softness and fluffiness. Why is it so important not to use heat? Fake fur is actually made of lots and lots of really thin strands of plastic (and/or other synthetic compounds) fibres. And what happens to plastic when it is exposed to extreme heat? It starts to melt! DO NOT USE ANY AMOUNT OF HEAT FROM ANY TYPE OF SOURCE TO WASH, AND ESPECIALLY DRY YOUR FURSUIT!
More information on drying fursuit parts will be explained later in this tutorial.Sample Pics:
Notice how the fur has been “damaged” slightly in this pic? That’s what will happen to your fur fabric if you use any amount of heat from any source to dry your fursuit parts. The fur fibres will melt and the fur will become matted. Click each picture for a larger image. Cold Water & Machine Settings –
Washing any fursuit parts in the washer, bathtub, sink, etc. must be done with COLD WATER ONLY.
If you wash fursuit parts in the washing machine, then use a DELICATE/GENTLE
wash cycle if your washing machine has those settings. If drying in a dryer, use a NO HEAT
and/or a DELICATE
setting if your machines have these settings.
Example of Washer (Left) and Dryer (Right) settings. Click each picture for a larger image.
When washing some fursuit pieces in the washing machine, you may choose to put the items through an extra “Spin” cycle setting on your washer (If you have that setting on selected models of washers) so that when the main washing cycle is done, the Spin cycle will start and by using centrifugal force and gravity, will “pull/extract” any extra water from the fursuit pieces out through the sides/bottom of the washer tub. However, putting fursuit pieces through any extra spin cycles increases the likelihood of more stress on the fur fabric and seams possibly coming apart.
As for which is better: Top loading washer or a Front loading washer, I have no answer to this. It is personal preference what you use. For more information on how washing machines work and comparisons on function, etc., you can check this link here: LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washing_machineScrubbing of Fursuit Parts –
If you intend to scrub any fursuit parts because of stubborn spots or stains, then please scrub VERY GENTLY
so as not to put too much stress on the fur fabric and/or accidentally pull fur fibres out. Scrubbing can be done with a sponge, rag, or a small brush with very soft bristles. If you scrub too harshly, then fur fibres will come out and you may end up with “bald spots” on your fursuit. Fake fur is not like real hair. Once the fake fur is gone, it cannot grow back. Click each picture for a larger image. Excess Water –
After washing any fursuit parts in the bathtub/washing machine, whether they had any padding or not, you can try to GENTLY SQUEEZE
, but do not wring/twist, those parts to get as much excess water out of them before you go to dry them with other drying methods. Just don’t squeeze too harshly otherwise you could rip a seam or do other undue damage.Damage to Seams, Fabric, & Other Parts -
It will undoubtably get tiresome hearing this in this tutorial, but try not to tug, pull, lift, push, brush, etc. the fur fabric on your fursuit parts too harshly or excessively, especially when they are wet such as a bodysuit for example. Doing so will put too much strain/stress on the fabric and especially the seams (and/or other areas or parts), and you may incur damage such as rips, tears, seams popping, etc. Also be careful how you handle padding, claws, pawpads, animatronics, taxidermy eyes, etc. lest those items become damaged as well due to excessive or harsh cleaning and handling.