Feathers are the food of choice for two main pests: the Hide Beetle and the Common Mite.
The Hide beetle (dermestedes maculatus) performs a wonderful service in nature. He can be found at any site where an animal has died, devouring the remains. Unfortunately he is not very discerning and will eat anything, even if it is something we want to keep; such as a prized peacock or pheasant pelt. Hyde Beetle can be treated with household pyrethrum based sprays. We recommend that you store your pelts in the freezer until you need them. This will kill any pests and also keep the pelt pest free.
The Mite has a symbiotic relationship with his bird host. He keeps the skin clean by living off the old feathers and survives even after his host has gone. Mites love feathers but they do not like mothballs, household pyrethrum spray or mite spray from your local pet shop. Mites will also die if frozen and so if you find you have mites, the quickest and most effective treatment is freezing. If want to take the feathers out of the freezer, store them in an old pillow case or a low acid box and give them a spray of pyrethrum every now and then.
Your feathers will last a lifetime if you take good care of them. The number one rule is: never store them sealed in plastic, unless you are freezing them.
Feathers, being a natural fibre, will take on moisture. If they are stored in plastic they can not breathe and they start to sweat; sweat leads to mildew and then your feathers will rot.
Store your feathers in low-acid paper bags or cardboard boxes. Feathers can also be stored in a cotton pillowcase. How ever you store them, keep them in a dry, well ventilated area and turn them weekly so any residual moisture will have a chance to dry.
We ship our feathers in unsealed reused plastic bags so if the package comes into contact with water the feathers will not be damaged. We recommend that you immediately remove them from the bags on receipt, and re-package using one of the methods described above.
Please try and re use the bag if you can - by the time it has reached you it is on it's third use. That is one bag for three jobs and all thanks to you!
If you are using pelts we recommend you store them in the freezer when they are not in use to prevent damage from pests such as Dermestes maculatus de Geer, or the Hide Beetle.
Dying feathers is a challenge because you cannot boil them. They need to be dyed at room temperature for the best results.
Follow the manufacturers instructions to mix your permanent, colourfast dye. Dip feathers, one-at-a-time, for as long as is required to achieve the desired colour.
Gently shake off excess moisture and leave to air dry on grease-proof paper (to avoid sticking)
Washing feathers is not ideal. The natural oils on the feathers are great for protecting them. It is possible that during the washing process your feathers can lose their shape or become overly fluffy.
If you really want to wash them we recommend you wash them in warm water using a detergent suitable for washing woollen clothing. Once clean, dry gently with a hairdryer set to 'cool'.
Strung or banded product can be hung for drying.