Page 1 of 1

Cleaning feathers

Posted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 2:45 pm
by GinaB
I've picked up loads of dropped feathers this year and have a mind to use them in some embroidery. Can anyone recommend how I should clean them without ruining the 'fluffyness' (sp?). Or should I just not bother?

Ta muchly

Posted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 4:08 pm
by Brother Ranulf
Hot steam is best - (don't try this at home, children . . .)

A pan of water boiling on a hob, carefully hold the feathers in the steam close to the surface of the water (it works with a kettle too, but ours keeps switching itself off!). Don't scald yourself and don't get the feathers in the water, just in the steam: they will be cleaner and back in original shape.

Have a first aid box handy . . .

Once dry, they should retain their fluffiness.

Posted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 4:21 pm
by m300572
but ours keeps switching itself off!).
Leave the lid open slightly - I found this out by accident when I filled the kitchen with steam a while back.

Posted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 4:41 pm
by GinaB
Have a first aid box handy . . .
Oh I know! Steaming tassels has the same effect!

Thanks very much - it hadn't occured to me to steam them.

Posted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 5:04 pm
by Shadowcat
Use a pair of tongs to hold them in the steam. You can re shape them with the blade of a knife - particularly useful for ostrich feathers curling the wrong way!

Breadcrumbs/flour/fullers earth are all good cleaning agents for fur and feathers. I would suggest you try both and see what gives the best results.


Posted: Sat Aug 02, 2008 1:12 am
by Neibelungen
You can treat feathers pretty much similar to hair for cleaning.

Wash in a mild detergent as for woolens or normal hair shampoo. A little conditioner will help too as often the degreasing and bleaching process will strip a little of the natural oils out.

Hang to dry with a shake out of excess water first to expand the individual branches (especially on ostritch) and leave to air dry.

(They can be tumble dried on a low setting if kept in a bag but will occasionally split the feathering)

Afterwards a good steaming will restore the shape and partially rebind splitting back in the branches.

Feathers are remarckably durable and will take a lot of bleaching and acid dyes without any damage, but are notoriously difficult to get to hold a dye fast

I work closely with a friend of mine who is the last remaining proper feather and horsehair plume maker in the country and this what he does with dealing with them.

Steam is your best friend.

Posted: Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:33 am
by Mick,M
they produce a shampoo/washing liquid what ever, for down jackect ect, yes the down clumps while wet but after a tumble dry and a bit of a betting they all fluff up back to origanal size and shape.

Sooo, if you get some of the bown shampoo for your local outdoor / climbing shop, put the feathers in a pillow case tei up the top and bung it in the washer and tumble dry that should do the trick may be?!!

Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:20 pm
by GinaB
Thank you all for your advice! I am hoping my current project will be complete this week and I will try some of these options out at the weekend.