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.
1. 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.
2. Use a reputable dry-cleaner who specializes in home
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.
3. Be tolerant of normal fluctuations in lengths of
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.
4. 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.
5. Applied finishes may help fabrics resist soil and
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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.