Protect seat fabrics to make them last

by Jessica Rohloff

Stains happen. Drinks are spilled, chocolate melts on a seat or someone gets motion sickness. If not handled properly, these sorts of accidents can shorten the lifespan of your fabrics and spread germs to passengers. Opting for a fabric treatment to repel stains and microbes, or simply cleaning up stains as soon as they happen, can help keep your interior fabrics looking fresh and new for as long as possible.


Armor for your fabrics

Most fabric manufacturers offer treatments that can repel liquids and prevent bacteria, fungus and stains from affecting your fabrics. Camira Fabrics offers a proprietary treatment called Defender. It’s unique in that it does not change the look of the fabric, and it only has to be applied once to protect your fabric.

Defender is a post-treatment that acts as a protective armor for upholstery. “It wins the fight against spills, stains and germs,” says David Marchitello of Camira. It also reduces odor, because it prevents bacteria, fungus and moisture from getting trapped.

Although customers in the transit market are more likely to use Defender than motorcoach operators, it’s still worth considering. The cost of the treatment is usually only a few hundred dollars for a one-time application that lasts forever.

Defender improves the longevity of seating fabric, reduces operator maintenance and is non-toxic. “It’s been in use for 12 years, and we’ve never had a single complaint. The small add-on in terms of price is certainly worth it,” Marchitello says.


Most customers skip add-on treatments

Brent Maitland, VP of Marketing and Product Planning at Motorcoach Industries, says that the majority of motorcoach customers don’t select these additional treatment options. “Only a limited few do anything fancy with coatings,” Maitland says.

The good news is that seating fabrics in general are very durable, even without a coating. But when coatings are added, they make fabrics more stain resistant and water resistant. So if someone dumps a water bottle on a seat, it won’t soak into the inside of the cushion. Same goes for more unpleasant liquids that may get “spilled.”

End users expect a well-wearing, easy-to-clean fabric that’s going to last a long time. And thanks to the high-quality offerings from the established fabric manufacturers, that’s pretty much always what they get.

Maintain your interiors by cleaning properly

Whether or not your fabrics have a treatment like Defender, proper maintenance is vital. If you have a stain, get it out right away. And you should only use soap and water to clean. Never use harsh chemicals or Windex, especially on leatherette, because they eat away at the coating and cause it to peel.

Fortunately, it’s easy to see stains, as they tend to stay on top. And if you get them right away, before they get worked into the fabric, they’re relatively easy to remove. Mike Howard, operations manager of Starline Luxury Coaches, notes that seats are remarkable at repelling all sorts of stains.

“It’s amazing how easy it is to keep these seats clean and colorful,” Howard says. Starline regularly deep cleans their seats using a high-powered suction device. “When you clean, you want to clean all the way through the fabric and down into the foam,” Howard says. That kind of cleaning requires a really powerful commercial shampooer. And, according to Howard, “If you’re doing it right, you own one.”

Sandy Follis, president of sales at Sardo Bus and Coach Upholstery, agrees. She points out that people should be aware that it’s really important to vacuum seats on a regular basis. That way the dirt doesn’t get down into the foam backing and break it up.

She also says you should shampoo once or twice a year. But don’t saturate your seats, because that will cause dry rot. “Believe it or not,” she says, “these are things that people sometimes don’t think about.”

Recommended Fabric Care Procedures

  • Vacuum regularly to prevent anything from becoming embedded into the fabric.
  • Shampoo your seats every six months to one year to make them last longer.
  • Clean spots or stains immediately. The longer it’s on the seat, the harder it is to remove.


How to Properly Care for Leatherette

  • Never use harsh chemicals.
  • Always clean with mild soap and warm water.
  • Clean off soap with warm water to make sure there’s no residue leftover.
  • Always soak up spills with an absorbent cloth.
  • Clean persistent stains with the aid of a soft bristle brush.
  • Remember that five-year warranty leatherettes only cover manufacture defects.

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