How to Clean Found Feathers (1 Viewer)

eske silver

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Location
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How to Clean and Sanitize Found Feathers
DIY
  1. “Dry” Cleaning Method
  2. Gasoline Method
  3. Soap and Water Method
  4. General Cleaning/Dusting
  5. Additional Tips and Advice
~~~
Feathers are delicate and require special care when cleaning.

There are two types of feathers, contour and down.
Contour feathers are the beautiful wing feathers that are often collected for art projects and crafts. They are firm in structure, but delicate as they can easily lose their beautiful form to water and improper handling.
The down feathers are soft and do not have the sturdiness of contour feathers. They are often used as filler for pillows, comforters, etc.
Proper cleaning is crucial for keeping feathers looking good and keeping their form.

Here are several methods for various types and colors of feathers.

~~~​


“Dry” Cleaning Method

You Will Need:
  • Corn meal
  • White flour
  • Powdered borax
  • Bag
Steps to Clean the Feathers:
  1. Fill a bag with ½ cup flour, one cup corn meal, and three tablespoons borax.
  2. Place the feathers in the bag.
  3. Close the bag and shake the feathers around in the powdery mix.
  4. Once the feathers are clean, remove them.
  5. Shake the feathers to remove any excess powder.
Gasoline Method

You Will Need:
  • Gasoline
  • White flour (for white feathers)
  • Bucket
Steps to Clean the Feathers:
  1. Fill a small bowl or bucket with gasoline.
  2. Dip the feathers into the gasoline.
  3. Rub the feathers in the direction of the tip.
  4. Shake off excess gasoline and dry.
  5. If the feathers are white, make a paste out of gasoline and flour.
  6. Rub the paste over the feather from the bottom to the tip.
  7. Continue rubbing until the feather is clean.
  8. Rinse in plain gasoline.
  9. Shake to remove any excess gasoline.
  10. Dry completely.
Soap and Water Method

Though it is not recommended to wash feathers in soap and water, some have had success. Here is a method that can be used if the feathers can tolerate it.

You Will Need:
  • Woolite
  • Water
  • Bucket or tub
  • Blow dryer
Steps to Clean the Feathers:
  1. Fill the bucket or tub with warm water.
  2. Add a small amount of Woolite and agitate the water to mix.
  3. Swish the feathers around in the water. Do NOT scrub the feathers as this will damage them.
  4. Rinse by swishing in clean water.
  5. Reshape the feathers.
  6. Dry with a blow dryer on a low setting.
General Cleaning/Dusting
You Will Need:
  • Soft brush (ex: paint brush)
Steps to Clean the Feathers:
  1. Cleaning feathers that have been removed from a bird for any length of time is a tricky action.
  2. It is best to avoid washing the feathers regularly, but rather, remove the dust and dirt in a gentle way.
  3. Rest the feather on your hand for support as you brush away the dust that has accumulated with a soft brush.
  4. Follow the natural direction of the plumage as you carefully brush the dirt away.
  5. Keep supporting the back of the feather and be careful not to apply too much pressure to the quill or it may break.


Additional Tips and Advice
  • Gasoline is flammable and should only be used outdoors.
  • Always protect your hands with rubber gloves and use protective eyewear when necessary.
  • Birds secrete oils that keep the feathers waterproof. Once removed from the bird, these oils quickly deteriorate and make the feather more vulnerable to damage from water and cleaning methods.
  • Insects are problem for feathers as they like to eat through them. Check your decorative feathers regularly to ensure they are not being eaten by any unwanted guests.
  • Store feathers in a pH neutral box for safe keeping.
  • If insects do invade your feathers, shake them in some Sevin dust. Allow them to sit for a few hours, then carefully brush away the dust with a soft brush using the methods above.
 
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Joni

Wanderer
Joined
Nov 8, 2013
Messages
179
Age
42
ooh will have to keep this in mind for my down gear and found feathers for hair!

yey!... it was always guess work before lol
-joni
 
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eske silver

eske silver

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Joined
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Messages
251
Location
Oakland
Just used each of these methods on some crow/raven feathers I found throughout Oakland.
Dawn seemed to be ok on strong feathers, but I noticed it did Really help when I took the time to gently reshape the feathers while they were still damp. And as far a drying, since I don't have a blow drier, letting them sit on a few layers of toilet paper, with two layers ontop, seemed to do the trick.

For weaker feathers, I would recommend the gasoline method, but instead of gasoline - use alcohol or watered down purell.
 
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eske silver

eske silver

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Joined
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Messages
251
Location
Oakland
Also, there are other methods.
These were found on HowToCleanStuff.com but I've seen and used most of them before.

There really ought to be more taxidermy type stuff on here!
 

Joni

Wanderer
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Nov 8, 2013
Messages
179
Age
42
oh!!! :O if you ever have the chance to watch a bird preen you can do the same yourself! :D i have done this many times using the same motion they do. using the pads of my fingers to lightly pinch and rock them back and forth to get the 'hook' to go back together if they opened up into that v shape while moving down the feather. each hair is is kinda like an S shape that interlocks with most birds. the trick is to get the S to roll over the other and interlock like a ziplock bag.

hope this helps...
-joni
 
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eske silver

eske silver

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Joined
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Messages
251
Location
Oakland
Yea, most of the time, if I find a feather from a bird I know (for a fact) doesn't have any harmful bugs, viruses, etc, i'll just preen the feathers loose of dust and dirt with my fingers like that. So long as you don't use your nails - which strips the "velcro" off of the feathers whispy parts - you can get a mighty fine cleanin done did.
 

Tnynfox

Lurker
Joined
Mar 31, 2020
Messages
1
Location
San Francisco
Just used each of these methods on some crow/raven feathers I found throughout Oakland.
Dawn seemed to be ok on strong feathers, but I noticed it did Really help when I took the time to gently reshape the feathers while they were still damp. And as far a drying, since I don't have a blow drier, letting them sit on a few layers of toilet paper, with two layers ontop, seemed to do the trick.

For weaker feathers, I would recommend the gasoline method, but instead of gasoline - use alcohol or watered down purell.
You criminal scum, I will purge you in holy fire for the MBTA... But first I have to report myself for using public WiFi and singing Happy Birthday in public
 

MFB

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Joined
Nov 15, 2012
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738
Age
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Location
CO
This thread will come in handy for me as I just got a new featherduster....
 
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