Can you wash stain protected fabric?

Accidental spillages and stains are an unfortunate fact of life. But that doesn’t mean your expensive carpets and upholstery have to suffer permanent damage, thanks to specialist treatments that offer long-lasting stain protection for carpets, rugs and sofas.

Stain protected fabric won’t stop clumsy spills from occurring, so what do you do when a spillage does occur on fabric that has had industrial-grade stain protection applied to it, and can it be washed? Here’s everything you need to know.

1. What is stain protection?

First of all, it’s important to understand what stain protection is, how it works and what effects it has on your fabric items.

Stain protection is a type of specialist treatment, often referred to as Scotchgard, which is used to coat the fabrics in items like carpets, rugs, sofas and chairs. This special coating helps to repel moisture and prevents spillages from becoming hard-to-remove stains. It won’t stop spillages from absorbing into fabrics, but it can slow this absorption rate down, so that spillages can be removed before they do any permanent damage to your carpets and upholstery, etc.

Many new items of upholstery and carpets come with industrial-grade stain protection already added when you first get them. However, as this only lasts for around 6-18 months or so, it will need to be regularly re-applied to top up protection levels and keep the threat of stains at bay.

Stain protection for carpets, rugs and sofas can be really useful to protect expensive items from damage. It’s especially beneficial for carpets and upholstery that get a lot of use and where spills and stains are more likely to occur, such as in busy households with children and pets present.

2. What happens when spills occur?

Once stain protection has been applied to fabrics, people often wonder what they need to do when a spillage does occur, and how they should go about cleaning it.

The beauty of industrial-grade stain protection for your fabric items is that when your carpets, rugs or sofas do get dirty, you won’t need to put too much effort in to get them clean again.

In most cases, stain protected fabric will only need regular vacuuming to keep it clean and in good condition. Certainly, you should always vacuum fabrics before you attempt to remove any spills or stains, to help pick up any loose bits of dirt and debris.

When something gets spilled on fabrics, often all that’s needed to remove it is to blot the spillage with a clean cloth. You can keep blotting until no more liquid is transferred to the cloth and the spillage has disappeared.

Always remember to blot, and never scrub at the stain, as this could damage fibres and cause the stain to spread wider to other parts of the fabric.

3. Time matters

As mentioned, fabrics that are stain protected won’t completely stop the spillage from absorbing into the materials, but it will slow it down. Therefore, as with any spillage, the sooner you act to remove it, the more successful your results will be. 

Simply blotting away the moisture may be all that’s needed if you get to the spillage quickly, but if time has lapsed and the spillage has been absorbed into the fabrics, you might have to take a different approach to cleaning it.

4. Cleaning stubborn spills

For stubborn spills or those that have been absorbed into fabrics, start off by blotting as much of the liquid as possible using absorbent towels or cloths.

If the spillage is still visible, you might then need to apply a cleaning solution to the stain. It’s important to make sure that you don’t use anything that could cause harm to fabrics, discolour it or result in dye transfer, so always check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for your fabric items. Upholstery furniture, for example, usually has a label that’s attached to the underside of a cushion, which tells you how to clean it safely.

You might see different letters on the label, which detail how the fabrics should be cleaned. An X, for example, means that you should only use a vacuum cleaner, an S denotes that the item can be cleaned using a solvent, while a W means that you need to use a water-based cleaning solution only. Sometimes you might also see W-S, which allows you to clean the fabric using either a solvent or water-based cleaning product.

If you can only use a water-based cleaning solution, dip a clean cloth into a mix of a cup of water with a quarter of a teaspoon of dish soap, and dab at the stain. Then, rinse it with a clean cloth, until it’s removed. Blot with a dry cloth until the fabric is dry.

Adding rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits to a clean cloth and dabbing at the stain is a suitable method for tackling stains that can be cleaned using solvents.

5. Will washing remove the stain protection?

Stain protection for carpets, rugs and sofas is designed to last many months, but it does wear off over time, especially for fabric items that frequently get used. Washing fabrics and general cleaning can also cause the stain protection to be less effective over time, that’s why it’s important to get the protection reapplied every so often.

You’ll probably get better results and longer-lasting stain protection if you use a professional cleaning company to apply it, rather than using a product yourself. A professional company is likely to use industrial-grade stain protection solutions which will be more effective and dependable than shop-bought stain protection products.

6. Seeking professional assistance

Even with stain protected fabric, sometimes stains can be hard to remove, particularly those that have sat for a while. In which case, it’s advisable to call a professional stain removal company who has the knowledge, skills and expertise to safely get rid of stubborn stains in your upholstery, carpets and rugs, etc.

However, stain protected upholstery and carpets still need to be regularly cleaned by professionals, even if they aren’t stained. This is important to maintain their good condition, and to remove deep-seated dirt, odours and allergens, which can still make fabrics unclean, despite them having stain protection.

For effective industrial-grade stain protection and professional stain removal services, contact the experts at Carpet Bright UK.