I am working on the production team for our schools annual spring show and because of certain fire code regulations, I need to use a material for the backdrop that is fire retardant. I am having trouble locating material that is already pre-treated and have been told to just purchase regular fabric and treat it with a spray retardant so it will pass regulation. My question is this, what is the best source of treatment? And once I wash the treated material, does the application wash off?
Fire & Water Just Dont Mix
Dear Fire & Water Just Dont Mix,
There are several options for treatment on the market that are available in both liquid and spray. The latter would be best suited for your undertaking as it is the one used to treat most fabrics used in curtains and backdrops. Keep in mind that while most store bought fire retardants contain harmful (PBDEs) that have been linked to neurological damage, not all do. Check the ingredients and shop around for the one you are most comfortable with, then follow the directions on the label for safe and effective application.
If limiting the use of harsh chemicals and a desire to keep it more natural appeal to you, opt for a natural yet effective solution such as Borax which has fire retarding properties alongside its more popular uses as not only a laundry detergent and deodorizer, but as a bug repellent too. Just put warm water in a spray bottle and add a small amount of Borax to start fire proofing your backdrop material.
In regards to how to care for your fabric AFTER it has been treated, keep in mind that over time and washings, the application will deteriorate and have to be reapplied again. Depending on how many different solutions you use to clean your treated fabric, the application may come out sooner than later. When cleaning Borax treated fabric, a new application must be applied after each washing. Because some pretreated material can withstand the dry cleaning process, the alternative of a trip to your local dry cleaner might be right up your alley.
Below, is a helpful step by step guide for cleaning your fabric once it has been treated. Good luck!
Wash in warm water at a medium temperature. Temperatures above 140 degrees may damage the material and break down the fire retardant properties. High temperatures may also cause the fabric to shrink or wrinkle, ruining its appearance.
Use a mild laundry detergent. Most fabrics treated with a fire retardant do not fare well with soap, but laundry detergent is not soap and does not contain the fats in soap. The fat in soap deteriorates the flame retardant capabilities.
Avoid fabric softeners. These break down the chemicals used to create the fire retardant fabric.
Tumble dry with low heat or line dry to prolong the effectiveness of the material. Remove promptly and avoid over drying.
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