Store your fur garments in cold storage when you are done wearing it for the season or not using it. This is one of the most important steps you can take in preserving your furs. There are no rules or set dates in regard to when furs should be stored. Whenever it is warm enough outside to be done wearing a fur coat for the season is when you should put it in storage. By the same token, when it is cold enough to justify wearing a fur (depending on your furs individual level of warmth) bring it home from storage. (Usually when it is cold enough to wear a winter jacket, it is time to put on your mink coat). The more time a fur is in cold storage, the longer it will last. Professional Cold Storage facilities should have the following characteristics:
- 34-45° Fahrenheit is optimal, but any temperature under 55° is worthwhile.
- Humidity controlled between 45 and 55%
- Vermin and insect proof
- Theft protection (vault architecture, alarms, guards or other methods)
- Minimal U.V. light exposure
- Ample space for each garment
- Easily accessible (you may want your garment for an event or suddenly cold weather)
- If your furriers storage facility is on site, it is always a good idea to ask them to see where your fur garments will be stored.
WHY “COLD” STORAGE?… A SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION
The more time a fur coat spends in cold storage, the better. Please note the word “COLD”. Storing a fur at room temperature negates the most important benefit of fur storage. If a storage facility is kept at room temperature or warmer, then you should consider looking for another facility that meets the temperature and humidity standards.
This is why… as temperature decreases (gets colder) molecules slow down. In biological materials, the less molecular activity, the slower the biodegradation process. One may ask “Why not just freeze it?” You may think that would suspend your fur in time, and this is true. But, if we think back to 5th Grade science class, we remember that when water freezes, it expands. When freezing and thawing is repeated season after season the expansion and contraction stresses, stretches and tears the material on a molecular level and actually speeds up deterioration. The same concept is demonstrated on city streets every spring thaw when pot holes appear. Also, frozen materials become brittle, risking cracking and breakage
This same principle applies to the natural oils in fur and leather materials that keep them soft and pliable. Colder temperatures slow down the evaporation of these necessary oils in your fur garments. Once the oils are depleted from fur or leather it can tear as easily as tissue paper.
With the understanding that colder temperatures protect fur and leather materials against deterioration and drying (as long as there is no risk of freezing), the experts advise that any temperature under 55°F is worthwhile and temperatures of less than 45°F are considered especially valuable to the preservation of fur and leather materials, with effectiveness increasing as temperatures decrease.
Note: It is always a good idea to ask your furrier to see their storage vaults, assuming they are on-site (see below “About Storage Facility Locations). Remember, you are the customer giving them your hard-earned money, you have every right to ask and they should be pleased to oblige you.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HUMIDITY CONTROL
Humidity level is important when a fur will be hanging in one place for a significant amount of time. If the humidity is too low (dry air) the natural oils in the pelts will evaporate more rapidly causing the garment to become dry and deteriorate. If the humidity is too high (damp air) they pelts can rot at a fast rate.
ABOUT STORAGE FACILITY LOCATIONS
It is possible that your Authorized Furriers’ storage facility may be located off-site. True, “proper” storage facilities are very costly to construct. For this reason a furrier may build a centrally located facility or lease space at a true Cold Fur Storage facility. This is acceptable and you can be assured that your furs are being handled by experts that handle furs every day. Just keep in mind that you will have to arrange pick up of your fur garments in advance. Ask your Authorized Furrier for specific details about their procedures and lead-time.
Never store your fur in a cedar closet. Cedar closets are great for materials that contain no moisture. They work well for preventing odors in such materials. This is because Cedar wood absorbs moisture from the air. Needless to say, this is very bad for fur, as it will dry it out. Natural oils in the leather and hairs of fur are necessary, and once depleted the biodegradation process speeds up exponentially. Once the natural oils are gone from a fur there is no way to replenish them. The leather in your fur may begin to tear as easily as tissue paper. This is the end for a fur garment.
Do not store your fur with moth balls. Moth balls are made from naphthalene, a toxic hydrocarbon derived from coal tar. Moth balls react with moisture in the air (and in the natural oils of your fur) and exudes gas acting as a fumigant. This chemical reaction can cause irreparable damage to fur and leather very quickly. Please note: Mothballs are a danger to both children and pets and can be fatal if swallowed. Naphthalene has also been linked to nasal cancer.
Do not store your fur in a bag of any type. Bags (especially plastic) reduce air flow and therefore circulation of moisture, which can speed up the drying out (biodegradation) of your fur. Bags (especially cloth) can also cause wear and broken hairs over time, at the points where it rests against the fur. For the same reason do not try to protect your fur from dust by hanging a piece of cloth over the shoulders. Use of garment bags is OK for travel and short periods of time when you are specifically trying to protect your fur.
FUR AND HEAT SOURCES
Hang your fur away from heat sources such as radiators and heat vents. Heat can cause dry-rotting. Dry-rot is when the natural oils in the leather and hairs of the fur are evaporated and the biodegradation process speeds up exponentially. Once the natural oils are depleted from a fur there is no way to replenish them. The leather in your fur may begin to tear as easily as tissue paper. This is the end for a fur garment.