Is There a Non-Toxic Stain-Resistant Fabric Protector?

updated Jan 2, 2023
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Q: We just reupholstered our comfy sofa with an all-cotton fabric. Is there a non-toxic way to “seal” the fabric and make it more stain-resistant? I’m sure a no-eating-on-the-couch rule would help, but it’s just not realistic! My family used to use some spray that worked well, but it has a daunting ingredient list.

Sent by Elissa

Editor: Elissa, great job on the reupholstery! It looks like an entirely new piece of furniture.

We spent a good deal of time looking into this question for you, and here’s what we found out:

A study published this past July by Environmental Protection Agency’s National Exposure Research Laboratory found evidence that fluoropolymers like Teflon and other stains, water, and grease-resistant chemicals could break down into perfluorochemicals (PFCs) — an almost indestructible artificially-made group of chemical compounds that have been found both in the environment and in people.

According to this article by the Environmental Working Group, “industry has claimed that fluoropolymers are stable in the environment for 1,000 years or longer… the implications of the study are significant: fluoropolymer-based consumer goods may well be a source of PFC contamination in people.”

So, there’s good reason to stay away from that ScotchGuard.

So, when we were doing research into alternatives, we were looking for non-fluoro-based products. This turned out to be trickier than we thought. We found at least one product that claimed it was “environmentally friendly, ozone safe, non toxic, non allergenic, non-carcinogenic, safe for humans and pets” that was still fluro-chemically based. (Which, in this case, they’re claiming as an advantage for the “invisible shield [it creates] around the inside of each fibre.

This molecular structure allows you the time to simply blot up the stain, whether it is oil based or water based.”) So, there’s a lot of greenwashing going on. Also, for most of these products we couldn’t find any ingredient lists, another alarming sign.

All that said, we did come across Microseal fabric protector and Vectra Spray, both of which state they contain no Fluorochemicals or PTFE Resin. Still no ingredient list to be found online, although we suppose this is a start.

Anyone else out there have any more ideas or insight?

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