Today’s fabric protectants and water repellents are generally one of two distinct formulation systems.
Silicone-based formulations are used where water repellency is the primary objective, while fluorocarbon formulations are used where soil, water and oil repellency are the desired goals.
Silicone-based water repellents come in many forms, but all contain silicone polymers that form a water-resistant shield when applied to virtually any fabric. These products cannot be formulated using water, since water interferes with the polymerization process, and would also damage “dry-clean only” fine fabrics.
Today’s C-4 fluorocarbon-based fabric protectants are unique in that they apply fluorocarbons, or fluorocarbon polymers that interact very weakly with both oil and water, and thus repel soils, as well as providing some oil and water repellency. The fluorocarbons in fabric protectants have low adherence to dust as well. These products are both factory applied, and also sold in aerosol/trigger form for easy and efficient do-it-yourself application.
The use of fabric protectants and water repellents results in savings of many millions of dollars each year in extending the useful life of clothes and other types of fabrics.