by April Sanders
Shearling jackets and coats are made from sheepskin, with the wool of the sheep worn inward and the suede (the treated skin) on the outside. Both men's coats and women's coats are made from sheepskin, and they come in a wide range of hues, from light tan to a rich mahogany, depending on the suede. Sheepskin coats are luxurious, expensive, attractive and very warm. For those reasons, special care should be taken when storing, cleaning and even wearing your sheepskin coat to make sure your investment lasts a long time.
Apply a stain repellent to your sheepskin coat when you first buy it. Avoid products that contain silicone and look for repellents that spray on and are safe for both leather and suede. Re-apply the repellent once a year.
Keep your sheepskin coat dry. If it does get wet, let it dry out naturally. Do not place it in front of a heat source, as the direct heat can dry out the oils in the suede and cause it to crack.
Clean your coat frequently. Use a suede eraser or pencil eraser to remove marks or water spots once the coat is dry. You can also use a sheepskin shampoo and a small amount of water to clean harder spots. Read the directions carefully, as some shampoos are not meant to clean both the inside and the outside of the coat. Hang it to dry.
Store your coat properly. It should be hung on a sturdy wooden hanger (not a wire hanger, which can cause the fabric to become misshapen) and stored in a cloth, not plastic, garment bag. Plastic bags may allow mold to grow. If you don't have a cloth bag, you can also store your sheepskin jacket in a cedar chest to keep it safe from insects.
Treat your coat once a year. Have it professionally dry-cleaned and make sure the cleaner knows how to treat sheepskin. The natural oils in the sheepskin must be worked back into the suede after cleaning, or it will dry out. You can also take your sheepskin jacket to a professional furrier for a conditioning and deep cleaning. This will keep your coat from drying out and losing its shape.
Never store your coat in a hot or humid location. Doing so may cause the sheepskin to mildew or lose its shape. Direct sunlight can also bleach the fabric or dry it out.
Never wash your sheepskin coat in a washer or dry it in a dryer. When cleaning your coat, use as little water as possible so that it is not damaged. Dryers are too harsh for sheepskin.
Never place adhesive stickers on a sheepskin coat. The adhesive may leave residue on the suede, which can be difficult to remove.