You’ve likely noticed many fabric companies touting their new “environmentally friendly” finish. We care greatly about the environment, but the truth is, the main concern is about the huge apparel industry, where the new fluorocarbon free (C0) finishes are absolutely better for the environment, as clothing is washed continually with the stain protection ultimately ending up in the groundwater*. However, this isn’t the case with upholstery fabric, unfortunately, it just got lumped in with the rest. As a result of the C0 finish, furniture will stain more than it has in recent years, and it will be replaced more frequently, which uses up more natural resources, and adds to the landfills.
Most of the major finishers and mills, including the biggest names like Crypton, Nanotex, and Sunbrella, have switched entirely to the C0 finishes, particularly the primarily residential companies. This makes sense as residential fabrics are often comprised of natural yarns like cotton, linen, silk, etc., and the new finishes are beneficial as these hollow fibers can be stained by a wide variety household spills. However most spills already clean out of the synthetic yarns we use in hospitality fabrics like polyester, acrylic, polyolefin, and nylon, EXCEPT OIL AND GREASE. And therein lies the problem. The new finishes are useless in preventing these stains which unfortunately find their way into your guest rooms. Fabrics for outdoor use are the exception, as over time their chemistry will also find its way to the groundwater. For this reason, DVP Fabrics doesn’t offer finishes containing fluorocarbons on our outdoor fabrics.
What are your options?
1. Some exclusive hospitality companies like DVP still offer a C6 finish, or you can buy the C6 finish a la carte from the contract finishers that still offer it (available upon request).
2. Use the new “Supreen” fabrics offered by DVP Fabrics and other leading fabric jobbers. This technology developed by Nassimi offers the ultimate in protection, while being environmentally friendly. It also features a moisture barrier but breathes and stretches much better than other barrier fabrics, allowing for better tailoring, and comfort. The limitations are that there are currently only 7 patterns to choose from, and custom patterns require 14 weeks and a 500-yard minimum to create. Also, it’s a little pricey, but that’s just another reason to buy from DVP Fabrics.
3. Use materials that can be cleaned with bleach and other harsh cleansers. Fabrics comprised of solution dyed acrylics and olefins, and bleach cleanable polyesters, are examples. If you don’t find the pattern you need already woven in a safe yarn, DVP Fabrics can make a custom fabric for you with a minimum of a couple hundred yards.
4. Buy more attic stock, and furniture with loose, reversible cushions to get a couple more years out of your furniture. It’s less expensive to reupholster a few pieces, than to replace every room, and even less if you have loose cushions. If your cushions are reversible, it will automatically double their life.
5. Use busier patterns and darker colors. This is an obvious step to get longer life out of your furniture, but there is a predisposition for materials that are clearly clean among hotel guests. That’s why all those busy patterns disappeared in the first place. Along with the C6 finishes that actually kept the fabric clean.
6. Save some money and skip the finish. In many cases it adds no value, so instead, put the savings into extra attic stock.
* The C6 finish (chain of 6 carbon atoms) is very stable and does not break down well in the environment. It was originally developed as a big improvement over the C8 finish, which the military still uses.