How To Clean Your Trendy Furry Garments And Accessories

It's not the 1980s anymore — if you see something furry in a fashion-related context, it's far more likely that the piece is faux fur than the real deal. While it's heartwarming to think of all of the critters spared by this shift in trend, it can also be a bit confusing. How's a person to wash all of those faux fur scarves, head wraps, hats, outerwear, scrunchies, and so on? 


Faux fur has evolved hugely since it was introduced over a century ago. These days, it's made from a synthetic blend of modacrylic and acrylic polymers. Although the trained eye can easily spot a faux piece from twenty paces, the average consumer is unlikely to care if it can pass for real. In fact, since it comes with such a tremendous social stigma in certain circles, they'd probably prefer that it doesn't look authentic. 

Don't steer clear of faux fur out of fear of the upkeep requirements! It's simple enough to do, and once you get used to it, it'll be a rote memory in no time. It's also easy to tailor the cleaning process to fit your needs.

Products and tools you'll need clean your faux fur garments and accessories

The materials differ slightly depending on the method you choose to clean faux fur. Here's what you will need on hand for each approach:

  • Machine-wash:
    • Mild detergent
  • Hand-wash:
    • Mild detergent, ideally for wool or cashmere clothing
    • A sink, bucket, or basin
  • Both: 
    • Soft-bristled brush or a wide-toothed comb
    • A place to hang the garment dry
    • A steamer or steam iron (optional)
  • Spot-treat:
    • Mild detergent
    • Several clean, dry cloths

When picking a mild detergent, you have lots of options, like the tried and true (and wallet-friendly) Woolite Delicates ($5) or the highly-reviewed Delicate Wash from The Laundress ($30).


Check the tags

The first step in washing any garment is to check the care tag for instructions. This is especially true of pieces made with synthetic fur, as some are dry-clean or hand-wash only. If either is indicated, do as the tag says or risk certain peril for your faux fur garment. If it says it can be machine-washed, proceed with that guidance if you're comfortable with it. If you prefer not to chance it in the machine, hand-washing is also a great option.


Spot clean

Unlike athletic wear or other garments that get soiled with each wear, it's not necessary to wash faux fur too often. This is a situational decision and synthetic fur only needs to be cleaned when it gets visibly dirty-looking or something gets spilled on it. So when coffee or wine or whatever gets splashed onto synthetic fur, it's not necessary to wash the whole thing if it otherwise looks good. Of course, if you think the entire piece needs a refresh, washing it after a quick spot treatment is fine.


To spot-treat faux fur, take a small amount of mild laundry-specific detergent and rub it directly on the stain. This can be done with a clean cloth or even just your fingers. Then, use a wet cloth to wipe away the detergent (if you're not washing the entire piece). Absorb any extra water with a dry towel and shake it out to help the fur look its fluffy best.


If nothing on the tag stipulates that the garment is dry-clean or hand-wash only, putting it in the washing machine is probably safe. Most modern machines have a gentle or delicate cycle that will work well on faux fur garments and accessories. The newer types without a center agitator are best for preventing damage to the garment.


Using a gentle laundry detergent, place the piece(s) in the machine on a delicate or gentle cycle using cold water only. When the cycle finishes, examine the piece to see if it feels soapy. If that's the case, it's okay to toss it back in for one more rinse. Remove the garment or accessory and brush out mats with a soft-bristled brush or a wide-toothed comb if necessary.


Some faux fur items must be hand-washed to preserve their integrity. In fact, hand-washing is always the ideal way to wash faux fur (as long as they're not dry-clean only, of course). To do this, fill a sink or bucket with cool water and add two capfuls of a gentle detergent for cashmere or wool into the mix. 


Place the garment in the water, then swirl it so the soap gets carefully worked in. Soak it for 30 minutes max, then rinse the piece under cool water until the soap is completely rinsed away. Lastly, although you're probably used to wringing out other types of hand-wash laundry, gently press the water out of the faux fur.

Machine dry or air-dry

There are a couple of ways to dry a faux fur piece. First, it can be put in the dryer on air-dry only to return it to its original fluffiness. Never, ever use heat! Or, air-dry the garment using a standard laundry drying rack, a hanger, the back of a chair, or whatever you have on hand. Once dry, brush it out again with a wide-tooth comb or brush to fluff up the fibers. If they still seem flat, use a steamer to bring the faux fur back to full glory or hold a steam iron over the piece (do not make contact!). This should revitalize the garment or accessory pretty much instantly.