Australasia has one of the most damaging sunlight conditions in the world, and soft furnishings and upholstery can be damaged if left exposed to UV light over time. Natural yarns like cotton or silk are particularly at risk.
Why does it happen?
It’s science! Ultraviolet light catalyses a reaction between the water present in all fabrics and atmospheric oxygen to create hydrogen peroxide. This is a bleaching agent and breaks down the chemical bonds that give dyes their colour. There’s even a fancy word for it – photodegradation. So it’s not the fabric itself fading, it’s the dye that treated it.
And it’s not just the colour that’s weakening. As the chemical bonds break down, the fabric can become brittle and prone to breakage.
Prevention is the best cure.
Protection from direct sunlight is recommended to stop the early breakdown of your fabric. All fabrics will eventually fade, but you can take some steps to delay the process considerably.
- You could get your windows tinted – some tints can block 99% of harmful UV rays! But a cost effective option is to ensure your curtains have good quality sunscreen lining. This will protect your drapes, and your home furnishings.
- Arrange your décor so fabrics are kept out of direct sunlight, and try to rearrange regularly to reduce constant exposure of one side.
- If your furniture has removable cushions, make sure you flip and rotate them regularly to minimise exposure of one upholstery surface.
- For curtains, make sure the track is wide enough so curtains can be pulled well back from the window.
- Use a good quality blockout lining. Not only does this provide insulation, but it will help to protect your curtains from sun damage.
- Swap curtains occasionally from one side of the track to the other, to avoid having one edge constantly exposed to sunlight.
- Make sure the curtains are sufficiently full to allow for re-edging if the fabric does fade.
- Invest in sheer sunfilter curtains that remain closed during the day, not only does this reduce the effects of the sun, but provides privacy as well.
By taking some of these simple steps, you could extend the life of your soft furnishings and upholstery and keep it beautiful for years to come.