If you have spent a great deal of time and money to have some of your memorable hunt preserved and mounted, it is important that you take proper care so that they last for a long time. Again, do not assume that the mounts have been preserved for life. The taxidermist only treats the skin using a tan solution. There are a number of insects that love eating hair follicles, leather and horns. These insects and moths will go for your trophy if you do not maintain your trophy well. Infestation by insects was not much of a problem when tanneries were using strong toxic chemicals such as arsenic. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned the use of such chemicals. Therefore, you need to do some basic cleaning frequently and regularly in order to keep your taxidermy mounts clean as well as safe. This is because it is the accumulation of dust and grime that causes mounts to deteriorate.
How To Clean Fish Mounts
Fish mounts are more delicate than most of the other taxidermy mounts. They are given a coating using a liquid sealant and also a glossy finish. You should not use commercial cleaners as they are too harsh and may damage the coating. Moreover, the fins are very delicate and tend to crack.
Before cleaning, remove the mounted fish from the wall and place it on a level surface. Lightly moisten a dust cloth with wax-free, multi-purpose dusting spray that is suitable for surfaces other than wood.
Wipe the fish using the moistened dust cloth in the direction of the scales. Use a cotton swab lightly moistened with dusting spray to wipe the crevices around the grills and fins. Dust the fins gently using the cloth, but without damaging them. Make use of a compressed air canister that is designed for cleaning computer keyboards in order to remove dust from the mouth and gills of the fish.
How to Clean Feathers or Bird Mounts
When it comes to the cleaning of the feathers of bird mounts, see if you can remove a part or all of the dust manually. You can either gently brush the feathers or vacuum them through a screen. This is much better than using solvents. This is because solvents strip off natural oils present in feathers. The feathers may lose their pigments and also become brittle. You must use solvents only as the last resort.
Often, dust collects because of grease migrating from the skin that has been poorly prepared. If manual cleaning is not helpful, you can use distilled water to just moisten a cotton swab and gently wipe along the direction of the feathers. If this also does not help, use non-denatured 70 percent ethanol solution. Never immerse the mount in any of the liquid you use for cleaning. Also, you should not leave the specimen wet. Completely dry the specimen before putting it back on the wall.
How to Clean the Fur of Animal Mounts
The fur of mounted animals can be dusted using a soft, clean cloth. You can also vacuum the mount using the soft brush attachment. However, you should ensure that the vacuum is low and you are vacuuming in the direction of the hair. If you vacuum in the opposite direction, the hair may break off. You should never wash your trophies using soap and water. If at all they have to be washed, it should be done by a professional taxidermist. This is because only the hair should be washed and not the hide.
After cleaning, you can apply oil on to the fur, but never in excess. You should use only highly refined oil, for example, three-in-one machine oil. Also, you must finish the job as quickly as you can. Oil that has not soaked into the hide should be removed by wiping with a clean and dry cloth. Oiling provides sheen and prevents the development of cracks.
Experienced taxidermists always use permanent moth proofing. However, it is recommended that you moth-proof your mammal mounts once every year using the regular moth-proofing spray that that is safe for use on your clothes. Spray only a light mist on to the fur and then comb it into the hair. In order to fluff up the fur, you can make use of the blower option in a vacuum cleaner or you can use a hair dryer.
How to clean and Maintain the Skeleton or Skull Mounts
The animal skeletons to be mounted are cleaned thoroughly, bleached and provided with a protective acrylic spray or polyurethane coat. Such mounts are easy to maintain as they need to be only dusted once in a while. However, they should be handled carefully so that teeth and horns are not dislodged and the bone does not get chipped off. You may use feather or other gentle dusters to clean animal bone mounts, skulls or skeletons.
If additional cleaning is essential, then it is recommended that you use a damp lint-free cloth or rag to wipe off the dirt. As protective coating prevents staining, any cleaning done after it is applied should not strip off the coating. You should also avoid using alcohol, acetone, detergents or other solvents as they can cause clouding, chipping, yellowing and softening. They may even strip off the protective layer. After cleaning with a damp cloth, the bones should be completely dried out to prevent mold and mildew infestation.
In order to clean the small spaces in between teeth and skull cavities, you can use artists' brushes, pipe cleaners and air dispensers which help clean keyboards. Loose teeth can be fixed back in position by applying a little bit of super glue.