Stain Resistant Fabrics

I’d be willing to bet that if you asked 100 interior designers what they love to pick out for their clients’ projects the most, at least 95 of them would say fabrics.

Without question, designers love fabrics.

We all hoard fabric samples simply because we need to keep dozens on hand for inspiration for the next project, as well as making sure if something changes with a project we can quickly grab an alternative without slowing the project down by going to the mart to shop. In fact, I’ll soon be adding even more samples to my own collection as the furniture and fabric companies will be rolling out their fall designs at High Point Market in October.

If there’s any one kind of fabric I simply can’t get enough of, it’s anything in a stain resistant variety. I bet you didn’t expect me to say that, did you?!

Not your grandmother’s stain prevention

While previous generations may have resorted to covering their sofas and chairs in noisy and unattractive (to say the least!) plastic covers, we, fortunately, have much better and prettier ways to handle stain prevention today.

Stain resistant fabrics Milwaukee Interior Designer Mohindroo Interiors


What Exactly Makes a Fabric Stain Resistant?

Sometimes called “performance” or even “indoor/outdoor,” these fabrics are manufactured specifically to repel stains, easy to clean, and durable in general.

While most fabrics can be treated post-manufacturing (or even after furnishings are upholstered) with one of a number of products and professional application services (I like Fiber-Seal and Ultraguard is also said to be quite good) that are meant to protect it from certain spills and stains.

But I think the most effective way to keep your upholstered furnishings safe in the face of normal wear and tear and the occasional big “Oops!” from kids, pets, and even a wayward glass of red wine (you’ve been there too, haven’t you?!) is to use fabrics made from 100% solution-dyed acrylic.

Stain resistant fabrics Milwaukee Interior Designer Mohindroo Interiors

The Science (just a little, I promise!)

Stain resistant fabrics are often treated to be impervious to liquids – meaning they cause a spill to bead up rather than soak in.  Aside from not having that quality, a large part of what makes non-stain resistant upholstery fabrics challenging to clean is that most cleaning products (and sometimes simply the friction of dabbing at the stain with a cloth) can cause the fabric to fade. Then even if you do manage to get the stain out, the evidence remains with a lighter patch in the fabric.

What’s happening is that the dye itself is being lifted out of the fibers along with the stain. Not good!

There are two ways upholstery fabrics are dyed:

  1. The fibers / yarn are dunked in a vat of dye
  2. Dye is added to the liquid acrylic mix before it’s made into fibers / yarn

The difference is that the dunking method leaves the fibers white on the inside but mixing the dye into the liquid acrylic means the fibers made from it will be the dye color all the way through to the middle.

And that means easier and more effective cleanup of stains simply by virtue of the fact that many fabric manufacturers approved cleaners will not fade or damage the fabric.

If you want to geek out a little more on the technical details, I love this post. It’s a few years old, but the principles still apply.

Stain resistant fabrics Milwaukee Interior Designer Mohindroo Interiors

So Many Beautiful Options!

There was a time when the only stain-resistant fabrics were those early made for outdoor use. They were thick, coarse and they didn’t come in very many colors, let alone patterns.

But the fabric industry has listened to designers’ pleas and in the last few years they’ve rolled out a plethora of gorgeous options, from neutrals to brights and geometrics to florals. They even feel luxurious to the touch, which is hugely important toward making the furnishings covered in them cozy and comfortable to sit in.

Just look at a few of my favorites:

Crypton Fabrics & High-Performance Fabrics

I love seeing more and more furniture makers offering interior designers Crypton,  Perennials, and Sunbrella performance fabrics for their clients’ sofas and chairs. It’s always wonderful to be able to tell my clients with kids and pets that the item that’s perfect for their space is available in stain-resistant fabrics!

It’s important to note that the fabrics we’re talking about here are stain resistant – not stain proof.  There’s no fabric that can guarantee that absolutely nothing can or will stain it. But these performance fabrics definitely go far to both prevent stains and to help you clean them up much more effectively when they do occur.

Let’s face it – the progress in stain-resistant options hasn’t helped this designer’s fabric addiction one bit! Regardless, I can’t wait to add to my samples and to show you what’s new after I visit Market in October. Stay tuned!

Do you have a nightmare stain story? Share it below (as long as it’s not too stomach-churning, of course!).

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