Hi Bron, when I was given some natural feathers I washed them in ordinary hair shampoo and then conditioner! It worked really well as they were quite smelly to start.
I also dried them slowly on the cool setting of a hairdryer. Most feathers can be left to dry naturally but fluffy type feathers such as ostrich go 'crispy or with kinks in' if left to dry naturally, just like my hair ha ha
The same goes after dyeing feathers, quill types or biot can be left to dry naturally but an ostrich boa or some hackle feathers are best dried on a cool setting. Just experiment with 1 or 2 to begin with.
When using natural feathers be very careful especially with dirty ones as it is bird manure that is carrier of bird disease, sidicosis which leads to hospitalization. After handling them wash hands thoroughly. Check previous discussion about feathers splitting as the feathermite is a problem with natural feathers. All purchased feathers are irradiated to enter the country so do not have any problems but they are expensive.
I was given some rooster feathers from a friend's rooster. I washed them in hot soapy bleach water, rinsed them and let them dry naturally. They came out just fine. I think they need to be disinfected with bleach or some other disinfectant.
I have a feeling you cannot use natural feathers in commercial millinery without them being professionally treated.. due to the problems Elaine has mentioned.
I've read that storing them for several weeks, buried in a shoe box of pure Borax powder will kill mites and any other disease causing pathogens. Can anyone verify this?
More discussion on millinery feathers
If you buy feathers from a feather supplier you do not need to worry as they are pre treated.
If you are using non treated featers Put your feathers in a plastic bag and put them into the freezer to kill anything that might be on them.
And wash dirty feathers with baby shampoo.