With Spring around the corner many people are asking, “How do I clean my cushions and overall outdoor fabrics?!”. ALL outdoor fabrics, INCLUDING automotive fabric convertible topping, come new with a protective “fluoropolymer” fabric finish put on at the mill. The reason for this protective chemical finish is THREEFOLD:
1) To resist soiling. Treated fabrics stay cleaner much longer before soiling (than untreated fabrics), and clean up easier when finally soiled.
2) To protect against indelible stains. Stains that otherwise would be indelible, are usually quite easily removed from fabric because of this finish.
3) To provide and maintain water repellency.
No matter what type of outdoor fabric you have or what company manufactured it, the protective fabric finish will diminish over time. Eventually routine care, “cleaning and re-treating”, is required. An informed person will know when to do this by observation….noticing the lessening and, if not done then, inevitably the complete loss of water repellency. It is best to clean and re-treat when diminished water repellency is first noticed. Don’t wait until there’s no water repellency at all!
Diminishing water repellency is also the time at which when one starts to notice soiling. Diminishing water repellency….often accompanied by the onset of soiling….these are indicators that it is time to clean and “re-treat” the outdoor fabric.
So, should one “treat” outdoor fabric when it is new? NO. It is not recommended or necessary!
What to do for best results with a fluoropolymer fabric protector:
Performance: With a fluoropolymer fabric protector product one gets performance on all fabrics except polypropylene. Typically seats and carpeting in an automobile are NOT this material, though some aftermarket automotive floor mats are (Reason – Low Price). Fabric Convertible topping and the better quality marine canvas, residential, commercial and RV FABRIC awnings and the patio furniture fabric are all “solution dyed acrylic”. Only fluoropolymer fabric protector products should be used to “re-treat” outdoor acrylics after cleaning.
A quality fluoropolymer fabric protector is safe and effective for colorfast fabrics, carpeting, upholstery and other textiles, including: polyester, nylon, acrylic, other synthetics, blends, and natural fabrics such as wool, Haitian cotton and fine silk.
Textiles treated with a high quality fluoropolymer fabric protector are protected in several ways: Treated materials stay cleaner longer, and clean up much easier when finally soiled. Protection against both water-based AND oil-based stains. This includes protection from stains from grease, oils, lotions, body oils, sweat and other biologics, food and beverages.
NOTE: To get best results with any fluoropolymer fabric protector product, one must give particular attention to:
USING ONLY ON A THOROUGHLY CLEAN TEXTILE: Any soiling residue or cleaning agent residue that is NOT removed from the textile interferes with the bonding and performance of the fabric protector. With outdoor fabrics this means a thorough cleaning and a double-thorough rinsing (cleaning agent residues do NOT rinse off easily). On carpeting, upholstery, furniture fabric, this means cleaning with a machine extractor and, when the fabric is judged to be “clean”, going over it one more time with water only (to remove cleaning agent residue). On garments, proper cleaning means a normal cleaning/rinsing cycle followed by at least one additional rinse cycle.
USING ONLY IN WARM TEMPERATURES: Fabric protector chemistry likes heat. This means using such products in warm weather…on a hot day and in full sun is best. 70°F is at the low end of marginal (OK but not good) conditions. But one can get good results on outdoor fabrics if the clean, dry textile is positioned in, and heated up by, the sun. Below 70° or 70° & humid….wait for a better day. The quicker you can get the treated fabric to dry and cure, the better bonding and performance is attained. This is why after cleaning and rinsing one allows textiles to dry completely before treating.
Hints with Garments: In marginal temperatures after the re-treated fabric has completely dried (and when there is no longer a solvent smell), you can put the garment in the dryer for about 5 minutes to increase the level of curing/bonding. (at a temperature no higher than the garment manufacturer recommends”). Or one can use a hair dryer, passing the hot air back and forth over the treated garment. Again, only after the fabric has completely dried and there is no more “solvent” smell. Of course, when doing the “hot air trick” avoid touching the textile with the hair dryer itself. The hot air trick with the hair dryer (only after the treated fabric has dried) can be used on convertible topping and other smaller outdoor fabric applications, too. In marginal conditions this is a good way to enhance the curing.
Safety: When using fabric protector products, follow all label instructions, warnings and cautions. Please read product label instructions fully before use.