Have you been couch-shopping lately? If so, you’ve likely seen that many sofas are upholstered in polypropylene. Also called olefin, this synthetic material appeals to many homeowners for both indoor and outdoor sofas.
Here I discuss the benefits and drawbacks of polypropylene sofa material, along with several Frequently Asked Questions that people have about this couch type.
What is a Polypropylene Fabric Sofa?
A polypropylene fabric sofa consists of a synthetic thermoplastic polymer, either unwoven or machine-loomed.
Polypropylene is a popular sofa material since it’s durable, soft, quick-drying, and stain-resistant. It’s also inexpensive to produce.
Polypropylene is the chemical name for the textile olefin.
Is a Polypropylene Sofa Easy to Clean?
Yes, cleaning a polypropylene sofa is a breeze! Typically, olefin fabric doesn’t need special cleaning products. Instead, a gentle liquid laundry soap should do the job.
Moreover, olefin fabric wards off stains.
How do you Clean a Polypropylene Sofa?
First, vacuum the upholstery to remove any loose dirt, dust, or pet hair. If the fabric has old stains, pre-treat them with mild laundry detergent. Just apply a drop of liquid soap to a wet sponge, dabbing each stain with it.
Next, you’ll wash the couch covers either by machine or manually, depending on the care label instructions.
Do the couch cushions have removable covers? If so, you may be able to machine-wash them. Check the manufacturer’s care tag for whether this is feasible.
If so, turn the covers inside out. Next, set your washing machine to a cold temperature cycle. High heat can make polypropylene fibers shrink, clump, and melt.
Then, add a gentle liquid laundry detergent.
When the wash cycle ends, either line-dry the cushion covers or tumble-dry them with a machine set to low.
If you can’t machine-wash the couch covers, you can clean them by hand.
Mix a half-gallon of water with ½ cup of liquid laundry soap. Next, soak a sponge with the solution, squeeze it well, and gently wipe the fabric.
Then, try to catch fresh stains as they occur, blotting them with a damp cloth.
Is Polypropylene Fabric Waterproof?
Yes, polypropylene fabric sheds water quickly. So, olefin is ideal if you’re looking to buy an outdoor sofa. The material stands up well to rain.
Plus, since the fabric is resinous and nonporous, spilled drinks will either run off your couch or bead.
Is Polypropylene Fabric the Same as Polyester?
No, polypropylene and polyester fabrics are made differently. Polyester is a lesser choice for couch material. It tends to be stiff, absorbs water, dries slowly, and holds onto stains.
Additionally, polyester fabric doesn’t breathe. Thus, if you perspire while sitting on a polyester couch, your skin may stick to it.
Meanwhile, polyester sofas tend to cost more than those made of olefin.
How is Polypropylene Made?
Polypropylene comes from petroleum oil and propylene, a natural gas. Before the 1950s, utilities regarded propylene as a waste product of gas and oil production. Accordingly, they would eliminate the gas by burning it.
Then, in 1957, an Italian chemist discovered a way to upcycle propylene gas, transforming it into polypropylene. Here’s what the process involves, termed chain-growth polymerization.
- Manufacturers extract propylene gas from crude oil.
- Short molecules or “monomers” are linked to create a long-chain molecule, forming the “polymer” polypropylene. This procedure changes propylene gas into polypropylene pellets.
- The pellets are melted and sent through a spinneret, a machine resembling a shower head. The spinneret pulls the fibers through its tiny holes, shaping them into long threads.
- Next, the filaments are spun into yarn and loomed, producing textiles.
In 1960, the US adopted Giulio Natta’s invention and began mass-producing polypropylene.
Is Polypropylene eco-friendly?
No, polypropylene isn’t considered eco-friendly. Still, it’s less harmful to our Earth than other types of plastic.
Various chemicals are involved in making polypropylene, resulting in carbon dioxide emissions and other waste. Production also requires crude oil and other natural resources. Thus, polypropylene isn’t sustainable.
Most discarded polypropylene products occupy landfills, where they take roughly 30 years to break down.
As polypropylene fibers degrade, they release toxic chemicals into the air. Meanwhile, the chemicals infiltrate the soil and groundwater, polluting them.
Still, polypropylene degrades much faster than polystyrene and polyethylene, which can take 500 years to decompose.
Is Polypropylene Recyclable?
Yes, polypropylene is recyclable. Plus, it doesn’t emit toxic chemicals in the process. Recycling polypropylene entails melting it back into pellets. Then, manufacturers use the pellets to form new products, such as:
- composite lumber
- crates and pallets
- storage containers
- paint cans
- battery cases
- playground equipment
Polypropylene can be recycled up to 10 times. So, when you want to discard a polypropylene item, bring it to your local recycling center. In turn, you can feel good knowing you’re reducing landfill waste!
Advantages of Polypropylene Fabric for Sofas
Excellent for Outdoor Use
Polypropylene is unaffected by rain and humidity. So, an outdoor sofa stays free of mold and mildew. If you perspire while using an olefin couch, it wicks the moisture from your skin. Thus, you won’t stick to the couch on hot, humid days.
Moreover, olefin can handle temperature extremes without warping and splitting. It also resists fading.
Since olefin sofas come in a rainbow of colors, you can readily match them to your outdoor decor. Meanwhile, polypropylene couches are lightweight. Thus, if you want to change a patio layout, you can easily move an olefin sofa.
Polypropylene sofa fabric stands up well to heavy use, resisting abrasion and tears. Durability is most desirable if you have pets or children. Additionally, olefin lasts longer than linen, cotton, and polyester couch materials.
Polypropylene material contains a synthetic resin, by which it repels water. Meanwhile, spilled food and mud wipe off easily. Often, marine fabrics are made of polypropylene, attesting to its waterproof structure.
Since olefin is synthetic, it doesn’t attract moths or other fabric-eating bugs.
Polypropylene fabric is smooth and soft, promoting your relaxation. Meanwhile, olefin breathes, optimal when it’s warm indoors, helping your skin stay cool and dry.
Typically, removable olefin couch covers are machine-washable in cold water. Then, either line-dry or tumble-dry the covers on a low machine setting.
If a care label advises against machine washing, use a mixture of mild liquid laundry soap and water, applied gently with a sponge. Afterward, olefin dries quickly.
Moreover, olefin fabric is stain-resistant and colorfast.
Polypropylene sofas come in a vast array of textures, weaves, colors, prints, and configurations.
Additionally, olefin couches complement many design styles. Among them are coastal, contemporary, cottage wicker, modern, and tiki/tropical.
Disadvantages of Polypropylene Fabric for Sofas
Low UV Resistance
The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and heat can degrade polypropylene fabric. So, avoid placing a couch in direct sunlight, especially outdoors.
Some manufacturers treat polypropylene sofa material with zinc oxide or titanium oxide. These coatings help to buffer the effects of UV rays.
Not Very Eco-Friendly
Polypropylene comes from oil and natural gas. Since these natural resources aren’t renewable, polypropylene isn’t sustainable.
After discarding polypropylene items, they break down slowly, taking roughly 30 years. While degrading, they emit harmful chemicals. Still, this time frame is quicker than most other types of plastic, requiring at least 500 years to break down.
However, polypropylene is recyclable and doesn’t release harmful substances during the process.
Cozy on Your Olefin Couch
Polypropylene fabric sofa material is a synthetic thermoplastic polymer made from crude oil and natural gas. Also called olefin, it’s an affordable choice for indoor and outdoor sofas. Olefin sofa material has these advantages:
- stain-resistant and colorfast
- cleans easily
- soft and smooth
- weather-resistant for outdoor use
- waterproof and pest-proof
A polypropylene sofa can take heavy use, especially from pets and kids. If an olefin sofa appeals to you, buy one with a hardwood frame, such as teak. Then, your couch should keep your family comfy for many years to come.
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