A dry-clean-only tag can be the difference between a sure thing and a missed sale, while piles of tees are often relegated to pajama wear owing to stubborn stains that refuse to budge. Now environmental compliance company UltraTech International claims to have created a fabric coating that keeps clothes from getting dirty in the first place.
The Jacksonville, Florida-based manufacturer recently unveiled EverShield, a durable omni-repellent (DOR) finish that keeps liquids from touching the fabric and prevents absorption by deterring not only water, but also oils, food products, mud, concrete, ice and other aqueous solutions.
EverShield forms a polymer coating that sheathes each fiber (some fabric protection only provides surface treatment) and uses a chemical additive called a cross-linker that connects polymer chains and makes them stronger, so liquid beads up and rolls off. In a promotional video, a piece of fabric repels maple syrup, ketchup, chocolate syrup, water-based paint, vegetable oil and mud, and floats atop a tank of water, while an untreated swatch sinks to the bottom.
The technology came about because Army General John Caldwell charged scientists at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center in the mid-2000s to develop a self-cleaning uniform.
Additional features include tensile strength, extreme durability, breathability and retaining the original fabric’s softness and hand. Plus, since the coating is created with C6 chemistry (six-carbon fluoropolymers) with no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), it has a smaller environmental impact over time than durable water repellent (DWR) finishes.