Friday, March 18, 2016

"Performance" fabric guide

We have been on the hunt for a while now for a fabric for all occasions.  We aren't talking holidays, and family reunions, we are talking bulldog, large dog, small dog and cat rubs, snorts and snots.  Between Bethany and myself, our animals are a principal factor in decorating our own homes.  Alot of our clients have kids and pets, so we needed to test the technology of easy to clean fabrics.

Gone are the days in most households where there is a living room 'just for looks' that no one sits in.  We are seeing more often than not, a room enjoyed by family members of all ages along with their pets.
This brings to mind the clean-ability of fabrics.  There are so many buzz words about 'performance' fabrics in the marketplace.  'Performance' refers to the multi-functionality of the fabrics' stain, wrinkle, pilling and flame resistance.  
More importantly, we want to know if it gets muddy paw prints out of white fabric.

We tasked ourselves to find a white, specifically luxurious white velvet, fabric that Bethany wants to use, that is 100% washable, so we put a dozen or so samples to the test.  From Perennials, to Sunbrella and Great Outdoors, we smeared sriracha sauce, red wine and wet mud on the fabric and washed it off with mild soap and water.  It had to be an easy cleaning solution, not dry cleanable or solvent based, but readily cleaned with available household detergent and water.

We were appalled that none came completely clean except the Great Outdoors velvet, a line Holly Hunt carries at the Washington Design Center.

All Performance fabrics are not created equal.  They may claim to be indoor/outdoor and soil and stain resistant, but most didn't live up to our test.
  Here are some industry brands and what they are known for:

Bella Dura- Indoor/outdoor use; solution dyed, durable, bleach cleanable, stain  and fade resistant, anti-microbial

Crypton- for indoor use only (extreme sun and heat will melt the fabric I was told), waterproof fabric, stain, moisture, odor and mildew resistant.  
Nothing will penetrate this fabric (which doesn't mean it comes clean).

Duragard-a soil and stain repellant treatment

**Great Outdoors fabrics- a brand of fabric with luxurious choices, made to repel stains of kids, pets and spills - 
               Powell Brower tested # 1 choice in easy-to-clean white fabric!

Microban-a topical anti-microbial protectant that resists mold and mildew

Nano-Tex- soil and stain repellant a chemical topical sealant that prevents liquid from penetrating the fabric

Perennials- a brand of fabric for outdoor use with a 3 year no-fade guarantee, washable, not stain proof.

Proseal- Duralee's chemical teflon treatment that does not change the 'hand' of the fabric, resists absorption of stains and soil

Sensuede- suede-like fabric, soft and sensuous, color fast, resists wrinkles, stain resistent and easy to clean. 

Sunbrella- fade resistant outdoor fabrics, 2-10x more durable than conventional fabrics, offers sun protection

Our takeaway:
Of course there are a million gorgeous fabrics to choose from and many do resist stains, but few are actually washable.  We recommend 100% solution dyed acrylic as the number one preference for clean-ability.  You can also use a mild diluted bleach solution without worry (preferably on solid light fabrics).  Any outdoor fabric will last longer if you bring in the cushions during bad weather and during the winter.  Be careful of the 'hand' of the fabric and feel it before purchasing.  Some indoor/outdoor fabrics have a topical coating that make them hard to the touch and they are not as pleasing to lounge on.  Many custom fabric treatments have strict user-unfriendly cleaning guides, and you will find that so many of them they do not even recommend cleaning. 

Key point: Know how you will 'live' in and on your fabric as to it's longevity in your home.

I hope this fabric guide helps you in your quest to find the right type of fabric for the way you live. If it's overwhelming to you, ask your designer! We're happy to help.

Enjoy sprucing up your hope for spring!


  1. Great round-up dear and you both look absolutely lovely!

  2. Big lover of performance fabric I love Perennials and have used it on many projects where there are dogs and wine! I also love Pindlers outdoor fabric too! xo K


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