Ask an Upholsterer: An Alternative to Plastic Furniture Covers

How do I keep this fabric clean?

If you have kids or pets, I’m sure this concern quickly comes to mind when buying a piece of upholstered furniture. 

Well, if you’re not interested in using plastic covers a la Marie in the hit TV show Everybody Loves Raymond, you might be interested in using commercial fabric protection.  From Gary’s perspective, you basically have two options when it comes to commercial fabric protection:  do-it-yourself or pay the retailer for this add-on service (assuming it’s not included in the purchase price).  

Only you can decide what’s best for your situation.  The key is just to be informed. 

If you don’t mind the work, the do-it-yourself option may be for you. 

You can save money by buying a can of fabric protector and applying it to your furniture, yourself.  It comes in spray cans and can be purchased at any major retail store.  Just be sure to read the directions and test a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first.  Testing is recommended because the dyes in the fabric may bleed if the fabric is not compatible with the fabric protector.  If all is well after the testing phase, then go ahead and spray the rest of your chair or sofa. 

If you don’t mind the extra cost, pay the retailer to do it for you.   

A lot of retailers offer fabric protection for upholstered furniture for an extra price.  But before you decide to tack on this extra cost, read what the protection covers and ask about the following: 

  • Has the fabric of your upholstered piece already been treated?  (If so, you don’t need to buy extra protection.) 
  • If the fabric shows wear or dirt in a short period of time, is it covered? 
  • Also, if you spill something on the fabric and it leaves a stain, is it covered?

You will probably pay quite a bit for this protection so make sure you know what you are getting. 

One final note:  it’s important to know that nothing will protect your fabric indefinitely.

However, you may protect it from dirt and stains for a period of time.  It’s just a matter of asking yourself: how much time and money are you willing to spend?


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