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Journal

PVC vinyl vs Polyurethane vinyl

As with all soft furnishings, regular care and maintenance will significantly improve the appearance and lifespan of your upholstery. It is important to follow the recommendations provided by your textile supplier and furniture manufacturer regarding an appropriate care and maintenance routine.

For optimum product longevity, PVC vinyl and faux leathers must only be cleaned by gently sponging warm water with a clean damp cloth (a mild, non-alkaline soap can be used).

PVC – Polyvinyl Chlorise is a synthetic plastic material that can either be made brittle and hard, or soft and malleable through the addition of a softner or ‘plasticizer’.

Most issues with PVC vinyl occur from the use of commercial (alkaline) chemical cleaning solutions initiating a chemical reaction between the plasticiser compound within the PVC vinyl and the cleaning agent. The chemical reaction between the alkaline substance and the PVC causes the plasticizer to extract itself from the vinyl, therefore making it brittle and stiff. This can very quickly cause the PVC product to harden, crack and subsequently delaminate.

Some PVC vinyls have a topical finish applied that creates a barrier. This barrier then allows the vinyl to be cleaned using everyday chemical cleaning solutions, including bleach-based solutions. Note, this topical barrier can wear off in time, depending on the level of wear and tear the vinyl has to withstand.

Unfortunately, history has proven that there is little control over the cleaning in commercial applications where the onus is on maintenance or contracted cleaning staff.  This has resulted in many PVC vinyls failing as a result of improper care in these environments.

Alternatively, Polyurethane (PU) does not have the same chemical reaction with Alkaline solutions.

At James Dunlop Textiles we recommend the Ultrafabrics range of PU (polyurethane) Faux Leather over PVC vinyls in all commercial environments (where cleaning and maintenance is outsourced).  While PVC Vinyls can only be cleaned with a damp cloth, PU Faux Leather (i.e. Ultrafabrics) can be cleaned using a range of cleaning methods, from soapy water to diluted bleach solutions or other approved chemical cleaners.

Ultrafabrics have five decades of development behind them and continue to reshape the world of animal free performance fabrics.  Ultrafabric products have an incredibly soft handle and are durable for most commercial high-traffic environments.  It provides the look and feel of genuine leather, at a fraction of the cost both financially and ecologically.

For more information on Ultrafabrics please contact one of our commercial team.

NZ - nzcommercial@jamesdunloptextiles.com
AU - aucommercial@jamesdunloptextiles.com

For cleaning instructions for Ultrafabrics please click here.


It is important to follow the recommendations provided by your textile supplier and furniture manufacturer regarding an appropriate care and maintenance routine.

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