Fabric Care

The Decorative Fabric Association has compiled the following basic rules of fabric care. They are only intended as a guide. A certain amount of preventative maintenance on the part of the individual is highly recommended, but the actual cleaning of draperies and upholstery must be performed by a professional dry cleaner that specializes in home furnishings.

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.