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How to Store Fur Coats & Leather Jackets

Close-up of different color fur coats hanging in a closet

Nothing beats the warmth of fur or the durability of leather. Coats and jackets made from these materials can last a lifetime if they are cared for properly. Many are handed down to the next generation like a fine watch or piece of jewelry. The key to prolonging their life is proper storage of these garments during the off-season. That means controlling the environment where they are kept in terms of temperature, light exposure, and humidity.

Caring for Furs and Leather Coats

Fur coats and leather jackets are expensive garments that should be treasured for many years. But if you want them to last, you must take care of them. Proper care is obviously important while you're using them. But it's even more critical during the off-season when you put these garments away. Left in the wrong environment, they can become damaged beyond repair. Storage requirements for fur and leather are similar because they are both made from animal skins. In fact, the most common damage to a fur coat does not involve the animal hair. It's the hide/leather that dries out and can crack when left exposed to heat. To properly care for fur and leather jackets, watch out for temperature, humidity, insects, and exposure to light. If you take control these environmental factors while keeping the garments clean, your furs and leathers should last indefinitely.

How to keep a fur coat clean.

Avoid extensive brushing of your fur coat. Most of the time, you should simply smooth the fur with your hand to keep it in shape. However, an occasional coating of debris or dust can be brushed off your dry fur coat using a professional fur brush. This is a different type of brush than you would use on yourself or your pet and will help prevent damage. Never wet the fur. If you get caught in a light rain, hang your fur in a well-ventilated area to dry on its own and then shake it out to fluff when the moisture is gone. If the coat gets completely soaked, you need to take it to a professional cleaner right away to prevent the leather from shrinking. Never try to dry it yourself with a hair dryer or by leaving it near a heat vent.

Close-up of hand brushing a fur coat.
Never use an ordinary brush on your fur because it might pull out the hairs and cause the coat to shed. Purchase a specialty fur brush from your furrier that allows you to brush out any debris, matts, or clumps without damaging the individual hairs.

Cleaning natural fur is not a DIY project. You must have your natural fur coat cleaned by a professional fur cleaner. Unlike garments made from synthetic fur, never try to wash animal fur in a home washing machine or send it to a dry cleaner. Too much moisture and incorrect chemicals can ruin fur. Professional fur cleaners use a specialty cleaning process involving sawdust and an environmentally safe cleaning solution that differs from those used in ordinary dry cleaning. Your fur will be vacuumed to remove the sawdust, lightly steamed, and fluffed using static electricity. Even if you don't wear your fur coat often, plan to have it cleaned this way once a year to keep the fur supple and prevent shedding.

How to clean leather jackets.

Leather cleaning and care is important if you expect your garment to last a long time. Always read the cleaning instructions sewn into the jacket if they are present. This will give you the best information since care and cleaning can vary slightly depending on the type of leather and whether it has been treated with a moisture sealant. Water damage is the bane of leather garments. Check the label to see if your jacket has been treated with a waterproofing sealant. If not, do this yourself to prevent staining from even light drizzle. Use the same spray sealant that you use on your leather shoes.

Full-grain leather that's been treated to prevent moisture damage can be wiped down using a damp (not wet) cloth to remove light soiling. Heavier stains can often be removed with a commercial leather cleaner product. (Do not use this on suede). Always test in a small inconspicuous area before applying the cleaner to the entire coat. Beware the home cleaning remedies like vinegar or acetone nail polish. You may end up damaging your coat irreparably with these solutions. If in doubt, send the coat out to a professional cleaner. Most dry cleaners offer leather cleaning services.

Close-up of leather jackets hanging in closet.

A note about suede: Suede is a special type of leather. It is softer, more flexible, and requires additional care. Because suede stains more easily it must be kept away from all moisture. Immediately blot off any raindrops or other water as soon as possible using an absorbent towel. Better yet, don't let your suede get wet in the first place. And never use any chemical stain removers including leather cleaner on suede. You can use a suede brush to buff out any light dirt, but it is always best to take heavily soiled suede garments to a professional dry cleaner.

Use the right hangers and don't overstuff the closet.

The type of hanger you use does matter. When it comes to your furs and leather jackets, forget about those velvet slim line hangers in your bedroom closet. They are only one step up from wire dry cleaner hangers as far as your coats are concerned. Purchase the right hangers for the job. Always hang your fur and leather coats on a wide wooden or padded coat hanger with plenty of breathing room between garments. Don't use hooks. Though less convenient, you will be rewarded by coats and jackets that keep their shape and last longer. A closet that is crammed full or packed tight is not good for your furs and leathers either. Air needs to be able to circulate between the coats to keep the fur from flattening out. This will also help prevent moisture from attacking the fur and leather.

Close-up of a fur coat and leather jacket hanging in a closet.
Use sturdy wooden hangers with a smooth finish that flare to support the shoulders or padded hangers for hanging your furs and leather jackets. And don't crowd the closet. Air needs to circulate between the coats. Use double hang closet organizers to increase hanging area and spread the coats out if necessary.

Coat closets are sometimes a little on the small side. If you find yourself tight on closet space, use a double hang closet organizer with adjustable rods to add a second clothes rod above the first. This will increase your hanging area so that you can spread things out. The top rod can be placed as high as four-inches from the ceiling with a second rod below the bottom of your longest jacket. And remember, if your home lacks a dedicated coat closet, you can always add a new wardrobe closet for storing coats along any blank section of wall.

Keep it cool.

fur coat in a closet.

Heat will damage fur and leather, causing it to dry out. You can keep your fur in the house at room temperature during the cold weather season while you are wearing it. However, be sure to place your furs and leather coats in a closet away from any heat vents. And the colder the closet, the better. Professional fur storage facilities keep the temperatures between 35° and 55° Fahrenheit. While good for fur and leather, this is probably too cool for your home. But a closet near the drafty door that's a little cooler than the rest of the house might work well during fur season. Don't be tempted to erect a closet in the unheated garage. Too many temperature fluctuations will damage the fur and leather as much as heat. Depending on where you live, this can be hard to control. And you don't want to leave them in an area with consistent temperatures below freezing either. That kind of cold is fine while you're wearing the fur. Your body keeps the inside warm. But without your body heat, the frozen material can become brittle and crack or break.

After winter is over and spring arrives, it's best to move your furs to a professional storage facility. Leathers, however, tend to be worn a little longer than fur. Professional storage facilities are still best for prolonging leather garments, but many people like to keep their leather pieces at home so they can use them. This is fine as long as you plan to wear them, and leather is a little more tolerant of heat than fur. Safe temperatures up to 75° F are often recommended. But expect consistent warmer temperatures to shorten the lifespan of your jacket. Be sure to condition the leather on a routine basis to keep it supple. The conditioner will help prevent it from drying out. Too much heat over the long-term on a leather jacket can cause dry rot. And nothing can fix this. However, an annual cleaning and conditioning by a professional can go a long way towards preventing this from happening.

Keep away from windows and UV light.

Sunlight can also damage your furs and leather coats. That's why a closet without a window is preferred. The UV rays heat up the coat, causing it to dry out and fade. That's why it's best to store your coats in a cool, dark place. If you don't have a cool, dark closet to hang your coat during fur season, use a garment bag at home in a dark color between wearing's to block the sunlight. The bag should be left to cover the coat for a short period of time only between wearing's. It is not a long-term storage solution. And the garment bag must be made of a natural, breathable material. Canvas is a good choice because it will also keep dust away from the fur and leather. Never put your fur or leather into a plastic garment bag because the plastic will trap heat and humidity, causing the coat to deteriorate faster.

Close-up dark canvas garment bag to store fur coats and leather jackets.
A dark, canvas garment bag can be TEMPORARILY used to keep the light off your furs or leather jackets at home. Ditch the garment bag while storing your furs and leathers off-season at a professional storage facility because they will decrease air circulation and cause wear points where the bag touches the coat.

Control the humidity.

Humidity level is also important in getting the most life out of your fur coats and leather jackets. Too much moisture can damage furs and leather, even causing rot or mold to spoil the garment. But air that is too dry will dry out the natural oils in fur and animal hides. Ideal humidity levels should be kept between 45% and 55%. A dehumidifier is definitely needed if these garments are kept at home during the warm weather months. A humidifier can help during the winter but be sure to place the humidifier away from your coats so that the vapor mist doesn't land directly on your garment. You only want the air to be humidified, not the coat itself.

Keep out pests but avoid cedar closets and moth balls.

Clothes moth larvae and carpet beetles feed exclusively on animal fibers containing keratin, especially wool, fur, silk, feathers, felt, and leather. They also dislike light, so your fur and leather jackets stored in a dark closet are a tempting treat for these pests. Luckily, they tend avoid clothing worn on a regular basis since it is often used during daylight hours. You should be safe from the insects if you are using your fur or leather jacket frequently. Cold storage will kill these bugs and their larvae so be sure to put your garments into professional cold storage when you expect to go three-months or longer without using them.

Rodents also like to feed on animal hide. They will chew a big hole in your leather jacket or fur coat if you let them. The best way to prevent this is to make sure you don't have any rodents lurking in your walls. Bring in a professional exterminator if necessary.

A note about cedar closets and moth balls: Using a cedar closet or moth balls may seem a tempting way to keep out pests, but DON'T DO IT. It's a bad idea for fur and leather because cedar wood absorbs moisture from the air. This makes it nearly impossible to maintain ideal humidity. Likewise, mothballs react with the humidity in the air causing a chemical reaction that gives off toxic gases. This reaction will cause irreparable damage to fur and leather, so avoid moth balls at all costs. You need to find another way to keep out the pests.

Use a professional storage service for off-season.

Place your furs in cold storage when you expect to go three-months or longer without wearing them. This is the single most important thing you can do towards preserving your fur coat. When placing your coat into professional cold storage you can expect:

  • A thorough cleaning of the outside fur or leather and the coat's lining before the fur or leather is placed in storage.
  • Consistent temperature conditions between 35° and 55° Fahrenheit for storing the fur. The colder the better.
  • A controlled environment with constant ideal humidity between 45% and 55%.
  • Good air circulation surrounding your coat with no garment bags.
  • Pest free storage.

The more time a fur coat spends in cold storage, the longer it will last. That's because consistent old temperatures slow down the aging process in furs. Also, less natural oils will evaporate. Once the natural oils are depleted from a fur there is no way to replenish them, so you want to make them last as long as possible. All this holds true as long as your fur remains consistently cold but not frozen. Don't subject your fur coat to freeze/thaw cycles because it will speed up rather than retard deterioration.

The same rules apply to leather. It's not as critical for leather to be placed in professional cold storage because there are no little hairs that require fluffing, but leather garments will last much longer if you do. Use the same guidelines for temperature and humidity as for fur. After all, they're both types of animal hides and subject to the same problems.

Bomber style leather jacket with curly sheep skin collar.
Many coats and jackets are styled with a combination of tanned hides trimmed with fur. Follow the storage and care guidelines for fur with these garments and have them cleaned professionally when they become dirty.

Feeling confident about how to store fur coats and leather jackets?

Fur and leather will last a long time — as long as you take care of it. The more you pay attention to your fur and leather storage, the longer your coats and jackets will last. Furs and leather are best stored in cool, dark conditions with temperatures ranging between 35° to 55° F. Humidity levels should be maintained between 45% and 55%. Follow these best practices in caring for your coats.

  1. Have your coats cleaned and conditioned professionally at least once per year.
  2. Hang your coats on sturdy, thick, or padded coat hangers. Don't use hooks.
  3. Never hang them in a tightly packed or overstuffed closet while at home.
  4. Keep them cool and away from radiator or heating vents.
  5. Avoid water. A light dusting of snow can be easily brushed off but don't let your coat become soaked with water.
  6. Control the humidity.
  7. Keep out the pests.
  8. Don't put coats made from animal hides in a cedar closet or near moth balls.
  9. Find a spot in the closet to hang your fur coats and leather jackets away from windows and UV light.
  10. Most important: Use professional cold storage during the off-season when you expect to go three-months or longer without wearing the item.

Follow these tips for maintaining all your natural hide coats. With a little extra care, they should serve you well for many years to come.