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Should I get Added Fabric Protection for my Couch?

By Jeff Frank

Most furniture retailers offer an added fabric protection option for their customers.

These added fabric sprays are among the highest profit margin items for furniture retailers.

Many retailers charge $100 per sofa (or more) for chemicals that cost less than $10 in bulk and can be applied in about a minute.

Vectra is currently the most commonly offered commercial fabric spray offered by furniture retailers.

Fabric sprays can add some temporary additional protection for natural fibers such as cotton and linen that have little natural resistance to stains.

The sprays are far less effective for synthetics such as polyesters (including microfibers), nylons, acrylics and olefins.

Synthetic fabrics are highly stain resistant to begin with. The added benefit of a fabric protection spray is minimal at best.

High performance fabrics with built-in permanent stain protection technology often receive no additional benefit at all from added sprays.

On many of these fabrics, the spray will simply bead up and fall off without penetrating the fibers.

Fabric protection added by the retailer (or purchased in spray cans) is not permanent.

To maintain effectiveness, it needs to be renewed periodically. (The usual recommended period is every 6 – 12 months.)

This raises concerns for many people about how safe these sprays are, particularly for small children and pets.

When Scotchguard® introduced the first fabric protection spray in 1952, it was a highly effective stain and water repellent that afforded significant protection to most fabrics.

After the success of the original Scotchguard, similar fabric protection sprays were soon introduced by a multitude of competitors.

The original Scotchguard® and its competitors used silicon based formulations that were eventually determined to be potentially carcinogenic.

These silicon-based products were removed from the marketplace in 2002.

The fabric protection sprays were then reformulated with water-based formulas.

Many of these newly formulated sprays used the same brand names, including Scotchguard.

The new water-based fabric sprays are generally acknowledged to be non-toxic, but they are also far less effective than the original silicon-based formulations.

Fabric protection sprays have a huge profit margin for furniture sellers.

Retailers typically charge $100 or more for protecting a sofa.

For this reason, salespeople are often encouraged to pressure customers into purchasing the fabric protection option.

Salespeople often receive substantial bonuses for selling added fabric protection.

Extended warranties are another high profit add-on that rewards salespeople with bonuses or commissions.

Similar fabric protection sprays, such as Vectra, can be found at most grocery or hardware stores for a far lower cost than the price charged by furniture stores.

The 14 oz. can of Scotchguard pictured above is available from Amazon or Home Depot for less than $20.

It is more than enough to cover a large sofa.

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