The costumes I make are mostly made of synthetic fur, a material that needs special care in order to keep its texture.
Follow the instructions below to know what cleaning products to use and what habits you need to have in order to keep your costume in good shape !
How to store your costume :
You can fold carefully your costume or hang it when it’s not in use. Be careful not to put any belongings on top of it if you choose to fold it, it would fold the hairs of the fur and damage it.
What to wear under your costume :
It is strongly recommended to wear a lycra mask called “balaclava”. This will prevent sweat from going directly into the head of the costume in addition to prevent sweat from will dripping into your eyes, it will hold your hair in place as well.
For your body, you have to wear a set of sports clothes for exercise in the heat made of lycra. This material will keep your sweat from staying against your skin and will help you keep cool. I personally use a “heat gear” long sleeved shirt and pants from the brand Underarmour.
Do not wear only underwear under your costume ! The backing of the fur may provoke skin irritations from directly rubbing against it.
For the feet, sports socks will work just fine. As the feetpaws I make are a “use your own shoe” kind, I recommend using sports shoes or shoes that hold your feet well for a confortable fit during a long effort.
You can also wear lycra gloves if your hands have a tendancy to sweat.
Your complete outfit (balaclava, lycra clothes and socks) has to be washed in a washing machine and/or disinfected after every intense use of the costume. I recommend having an extra set of this outfit so you can use your costume when the other set is drying !
Also, there are cooling vests made specially for mascot performers that will help you regulate your body temperature and wear your costume longer. I personally use an EZCooldown « Performers Vest », made for fursuiters in particular.
To keep your fur soft and well groomed, I recommend brushing it gently in the direction of the fur. Make sure to use a brush that isn’t made to remove hairs, those don’t grow back…!
In case of folds or waves in the fur, use a hairdryer in order to soften the damaged fur strands and brush vigorously in the direction of the fur. Be careful not to warm the fur too much or the fur will melt : start with the lower setting of your hairdryer and blow the air at short intervals. If after the first try the fur is still irregular, use a higher heat setting and/or blow the air for longer intervals on the zone that needs to be treated. Repeat until the fur is as sleek as the rest of the costume.
It is very important to disinfect the costume after each use in order to prevent the development of bacteria causing bad odors. You might not notice any bad smell immediately after performing. It is normal, but the smell will appear later if you don’t disinfect your costume!
Do not use air fresheners or odor-eliminating products instead of cleaning products to clean your product. These sprays only cover bad odors temporarily and don’t disinfect (and during the few days that your costume smells good, bacteria develop and will cause hygiene problems later).
I recommend using a home made mix from isopropyl alcohol (or rubbing alcohol) and water at a 1-1 ratio. Test your mix on a part of your costume that is not visible to make sure that the fur doesn’t react badly to it.
Put your mix in a spray bottle and spray the inside parts of your costume that have been in contact with your sweat. You must always disinfect the costume from the inside. Usually, you will need to treat the inside of the head, the collar of the body suit, the armpits, the back, the bottom and the inside of the padding’s pants. Each person sweats differently so you will need to judge for yourself what suits you the best. The inside of the mouth and the tongue of the costume also need to be disinfected because your breath will have condensated there.
If using the spray doesn’t suffice or if your have a tendancy to sweat a lot, soak a towel with your mix and apply by dabbing it on the parts to treat to allow it to soak the backing of the fur.
To clean a potential stain, use either the same mix, a bar of soap or a gentle spot remover. Scrub at the base of the fur strands, rince and repeat until the spot is removed. Once the zone is rinced, brush the fur in the direction of the fur so it will dry in a natural positon.
It is possible to put certain parts of the costume in a washing machine (unless I personally tell you otherwise) with cold water : handpaws, bodysuit, padding, tail and feetpaws. Make sure you verify that your washing machine can manage the weight of the costume when it’s soaked with water, it will be a lot heavier (you can weight the costume when it’s soaked and compare it to the weight capacity of your washing machine). You should place the costume in a duvet cover and close it before putting it in the machine in order to prevent loose fur strands to damage your machine (risk of plugging the water outlet).
If you can’t use a washing machine, you can handwash the costume with cold water in a tub or in a shower. You can use delicate laundry detergent for synthetic fibers.
Lay the costume flat on a drying rack with one or several fans to speed up the process. Do no hang to dry, this would stretch the costume.
Do not wash with warm or hot water ! Faux fur is a kind of plastic, heat makes it melt and will damage its texture.
Do not hang to dry.
Do not use oily or agressive cleaning products.
Do not use air fresheners or odor-eliminating products instead of cleaning products to clean your product.
Do not apply cleaning products on the eyes of the costume.
Wait until the disinfectant mix is completely dry before putting on the costume.
Keep the costume away from fire and moisture.
Do not expose the costume to temperatures over 30C° (do not leave it in a car parked in the sun !!!)
Do not expose your costume to direct sunlight for an extended period of time, the colors of the fur could be altered.