Understanding Fabric Care
The nature of fabric is not unwavering, therefore being informed can go a long way in the overall performance and longevity. A certain amount of preventative maintenance on the part of the consumer is highly recommended, along with knowing your fabric content. For most high quality drapery and upholstery fabrics the actual cleaning process should be done by a professional dry cleaner that specializes in home furnishings.
Simple tips and tricks to try first…
Brushing off dirt before it becomes embedded in the fabrics and wiping up spills or cleaning soon after a stain occurs. The quicker you clean spills and stains, the easier they can be to remove. Blot instead of rubbing liquid stains with a clean, dry cloth. In addition the Decorative Fabric Association has compiled the following basic rules of fabric care. They are only intended as a guide.
- Fabrics must be protected from the sun.
Window glass magnifies the destructive elements of the sun’s rays. The winter sun and reflection from snow are even more harmful than the summer sun. Trees and shrubbery help protect windows, however shades should be drawn during the day, and awnings should be used whenever possible. Colors can fade by oxidation, “gas fading,” if fabrics are kept in storage for too long a period without airing. Impurities in the air may cause as much fading as the direct rays of the sun. Draperies should be lined and interlined when fragile fabrics are used.
- Use a reputable dry-cleaner who specializes in home furnishings.
Dust has impurities which affect fabrics, so vacuum fabrics often. Dry-cleaning should be done at regular intervals, before excessive soil has accumulated. As very few fabrics are washable, interior designers should recommend professional dry-cleaners to their clients. Clients should not try to remove spots themselves.
- Be tolerant of normal fluctuations in lengths of draperies.
Few fabrics are completely stable. Fabrics breathe and absorb moisture, resulting in stretching or shrinking. It is reasonable to expect as much as a 3% change in any drapery length. In a 3-yard length (108 inches), this would amount to 3 inches up or down under various conditions. Fabrics placed over or near heating and cooling vents may react to a much greater degree.
- Fabrics wear out—they are not indestructible
Wear will vary with the amount of use, however there are exceptions, as some weaves are stronger than others.
- Applied finishes may help fabrics resist soil and stain.
Finishes help fabrics resist spotting, but they are not necessarily the solution to every problem. For example, dining room chairs are likely to soil no matter what is used. Light colors are likely to benefit most. A finish does not eliminate the necessity of properly caring for fabrics. Spots should be given immediate attention by a professional dry cleaner.
- Synthetic fibers
Synthetic yarns have made impressive strides in advancing the technology of weaving, but they cannot perform miracles. Performance will vary with the construction of the fabric and its application.
- Multiple-width draperies, wall coverings and bedspreads.
Because fabric is not a completely stable “substance,” it cannot be taken for granted that, whether printed or woven, the pattern will be completely “square” upon the cloth. Although every effort is made to avoid distortion in the printing process, occasionally it will exist. Therefore, when planning multiple-width fabrications, please make certain that pattern alignment is adequate to produce a satisfactory result before cutting. This also applies to woven fabrics.
- Final Analysis
In the final analysis, the integrity and experience of your supplier is the best assurance of a fabric’s value, but it must be combined with knowledge and understanding on the part of the consumer. Here is a chart including cleaning codes and the proper method of cleaning for each.
Dry clean only
|Clean only with dry cleaning solvent. Do not saturate. Do not use water. Pile fabrics may require brushing to restore appearance. Cushion covers should not be removed and dry cleaned.
|Spot clean with upholstery shampoo, foam from a mild detergent, or mild dry cleaning solvent. Do not saturate with liquid. Pile fabrics may require brushing to restore appearance. Cushion covers should not be removed and dry cleaned.||Clean only with water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner. Do not over wet. Do not use solvents to spot clean. Pile fabrics may require brushing to restore appearance. Cushion covers should not be removed and laundered.||Spot clean with upholstery shampoo, foam from a mild detergent, or mild dry cleaning solvent. Do not saturate with liquid. Pile fabrics may require brushing to restore appearance. Cushion covers should not be removed and dry cleaned.|