cleaning feathers

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by bitterroot, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. bitterroot Love vintage graphite!

    Posts: 1,428
    Montana
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    My daughter's boyfriend shot a turkey a couple weeks ago and he brought me a bunch of white tipped tail feathers. What's the best way to wash them?
  2. Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Posts: 1,694
    Outer Duvall
    Ratings: +249 / 1
    Sink, warm water, Dawn dishwashing liquid. Fill sink, soak feathers, swish periodically, drain and refill sink with clean water, rinse, rinse again, rinse a third time, lay on paper towel to dry, periodically preen as needed to maintain desired shape.

    Dawn cuts dirt, grease and oil better than a fat kid loves cake.

    TC
    csc0tt98 likes this.
  3. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,261
    Moses Lake, WA
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    I either brush the dust off or get a big flat container and put dish soap and warm water in it. Get the mildest dish soap you can. If you want to dye feathers I've found they need to be wet first and dish soap and water is a good wetting agent.

    You might wonder how I found out the feathers need to be wet (soaked) first.....:oops:
  4. bitterroot Love vintage graphite!

    Posts: 1,428
    Montana
    Ratings: +215 / 1
    Okie dokie!
    Thanks Tim & Bill!
  5. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,261
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +1,035 / 1
    Tim's got the details in the post above mine. The dye only penetrates wet feathers and the bird body oils need to be washed out first.
  6. Dave Evans Active Member

    Posts: 553
    E. WA / N ID
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    You probably know this, but another suggestion is to quarantine them for a while away from your other feathers and skins, and perhaps do a couple of freeze - thaw cycles in the freezer. Like Zen, you can guess how I find out about this:oops:. Boy, that was a long and expensive weekend when I did find out.
  7. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,261
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +1,035 / 1
    This is a good tip also. I had some rockchuck tails for tying and was drying them out in borax. I saw a tick and some lice crawling around inside the bag.
  8. Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

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    I agree with Dave on doing the freeze/thaw (or microwave) thing after you have washed them. I do this on all non-commercial stuff I bring in to the house and even on my own feathers if I've left them out for a while. I just picked up a ton of old feathers and fur at an estate sale and it went straight into my garage freezer.