The Best Fabric Protectors of 2022

Shield that upholstered sofa, pricey carpet, and other fabric furnishings from messy mishaps like spills and stains. The best fabric protectors will keep these items looking like new for years to come.

By Jasmine Harding | Updated May 10, 2022 12:22 PM

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The Best Fabric Protector Options

Photo: amazon.com

High-quality furnishings can cost a pretty penny, so it’s wise to protect your investment from everyday accidents. Fabric protectors create a water-repellent and stain-resistant barrier against spills, stains, odors, and sun fading. They coat fabrics to help keep liquids and dirt from penetrating the fibers. Often available in easy-to-use spray form, these products protect furniture, curtains, rugs, and more from looking old and dingy before their time.

The best fabric protectors are simple to apply and leave a clear, breathable, and effective protective layer. Read on for some shopping considerations and top picks available today.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Scotchgard Fabric Water Shield
  2. RUNNER-UP: SoftClad Extra Strength Fabric Protector Spray
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Guardsman Fabric Defense & Upholstery Protector
  4. BEST FOR CARPETS AND RUGS: Scotchgard Rug & Carpet Protector
  5. BEST FOR OUTDOORS: Scotchgard Sun and Water Shield
  6. BEST FOR CARS: Chemical Guys Fabric Guard Interior Protector Shield
  7. BEST FOR LARGE AREAS: TriNova Non-Aerosol Stain Guard
  8. BEST SUN PROTECTANT: ForceField – UV Sunblock Fabric Protector
The Best Fabric Protector Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fabric Protector

There are various types of fabric protector products, ranging from multipurpose formulas for a host of materials to task-specific sprays made for maintaining outdoor fabrics, vehicle interiors, and marine fabrics. Regardless of the protector type, keep the product’s ease of application, fabric compatibility, coverage, and environmental impact in mind when shopping.

Simple Application

Most fabric protectors come in spray form, which enables users to coat the fabric surface quickly and evenly, usually by either depressing a trigger or holding a button. Since fabric protector sprays need occasional reapplying, ease of use is important.

Don’t let the simplicity of application make you trigger-happy, however! Keep colorfastness in mind before treating any fabric, making sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on what surfaces can be treated. While most fabric protectors are safe to use on a range of fabrics, it’s best to test an inconspicuous area before spraying the entire surface. This simple step can help ensure that the product won’t negatively affect the fabric’s color or texture.

To provide proper protection, the spray will need to dry fully. Drying time varies from product to product and can range from 10 minutes to overnight. Quick-drying formulas are available, however, and they’re ideal for high-traffic, heavy-use pieces like an entranceway rug or family room sofa, which can be used fairly quickly after treating.

Fabric Variety

Different fabric protectors work on specific fabric types. You’ll find sprays designed for indoor or outdoor use, or for synthetic or natural fabrics.

Multipurpose sprays can protect a range of upholstery, curtains, carpets, and other furnishings, as well as other household items, such as shoes, hats, and backpacks. Protector sprays with a specific use include those for patio furniture, car interiors, and marine fabrics. Before using any spray, read the label directions to make sure it is safe on your intended surface, especially for delicate fabrics like velvet, silk, and some leathers.

Also consider if the spray is for indoor use, outdoor use, or both. Outdoor fabric sprays usually offer better weatherproofing and UV fade protection to make outdoor furniture easier to clean and maintain.

Coverage

Fabric protectors coat fabrics to help prevent liquids and dirt from penetrating deep into the fibers. Some protectors also guard against UV damage that causes fading. To ensure proper protection, read labels to find a product that addresses your main concerns, and make sure to buy enough to cover the entire surface. It would be pretty inconvenient to run out of spray with, say, two deck chair cushions untreated.

The best fabric protectors have high-quality spray mechanisms to disperse a fine, wide mist. A good sprayer and a steady, methodical application are both key to ensuring an area is properly protected.

Aerosol spray containers and pump spray bottles are both common. Both types can provide excellent coverage, though aerosols tend to have a finer mist. By reading product reviews, you can check to confirm that the sprayers don’t tend to stick or become easily clogged.

Environmentally Friendly

Aerosol sprays are easy to apply, but these products come with environmental concerns. While aerosol products no longer contain ozone-depleting ingredients like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), they may still contain hydrocarbons, compressed gases, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), all known to be environmentally hazardous. Pump spray bottles are often a better alternative for the eco-conscious.

Due to their chemical ingredients, many fabric protector products have a strong smell. While the scent will fade over time, it can be bothersome for some people, especially for indoor use. Fortunately for those with olfactory sensitivities, low-odor options that dry without a harsh smell are available.

Our Top Picks

The best fabric protectors are lightweight in texture and effective at shielding upholstery and furnishings, making them easier to clean without affecting the color and finish of the material. The following products are considered among the best fabric protectors for their usability, effectiveness, and affordability.

Best Overall

The Best Fabric Protector Option: Scotchgard Fabric Water Shield
Photo: amazon.com

Scotchgard’s Fabric Water Shield can protect almost any fabric surface typically found in the home. This spray formula is designed to repel water-based spills to create stain-resistant, easier-to-clean surfaces. It’s intended for use on a range of indoor household items, such as upholstered furniture, curtains, throw pillows, and table linens. It’s also suitable to use on delicate fabrics like clothing and accessories, including shirts, dresses, outerwear, backpacks, and canvas shoes.

Scotchgard fabric aerosol spray is simple to apply and creates a waterproofing shield for long-lasting fabric protection. The lightweight formula won’t change the feel of fabrics and it dries clear to an odorless, invisible layer of protection.

Product Specs 

  • Form: Spray
  • Compatible Fabrics: Furniture, household linens, clothing, and accessories
  • Quantity: 13.5 ounces

Pros

  • Ample stain and moisture resistance
  • Lightweight application
  • Dries clear
  • Unscented

Cons

  • Not suitable for outdoor furniture, carpets, and rugs
  • Limited quantity compared to similar options

Get the Scotchgard fabric protector at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Runner Up

The Best Fabric Protector Option: SoftClad Extra Strength Fabric Protector Spray
Photo: amazon.com

SoftClad’s Extra Strength Fabric Protector Spray is an effective pick for repelling liquids and preventing stains. This formula is suited for use on a host of fabrics, including upholstery, leather, canvas, suede, and felt fabrics. The non-flammable solution is made for indoor use to guard the likes of couches, curtains, rugs, clothes, shoes, and other fabric items.

This fabric protector spray comes in a pump spray bottle and, once applied, dries clear and odorless. Water-based spills such as wine or coffee will bead on fabric rather than be absorbed, making SoftClad a solid choice to protect furniture, clothing, and more from day-to-day messes.

Product Specs 

  • Form: Spray
  • Compatible Fabrics: Upholstery, leather, canvas, suede, and felt
  • Quantity: 32 ounces

Pros

  • Water-based
  • Dries clear and odorless
  • Non-flammable
  • Ample quantity provided

Cons

  • Pricey compared to similar options
  • Not recommended for outdoor furniture and fabrics

Get the SoftClad fabric protector spray on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best Bang for the Buck

Guardsman Fabric Defense & Upholstery Protector
Photo: amazon.com

Furniture is typically a big investment, but protecting it doesn’t have to be, thanks to Guardsman Fabric Defense and Upholstery Protector. Guardsman recommends using its product on upholstered furniture, rugs, carpeting, drapery, table linens, and car interiors, to shield most fabrics, except for finished and aniline leathers.

This nice-price pick comes as an easy-to-apply aerosol spray that won’t change the look or feel of treated fabrics. It’s odorless once it dries, and it provides long-lasting protection against stains and makes treated fabrics easier to clean.

Product Specs 

  • Form: Spray
  • Compatible Fabrics: Furniture, rugs, household linens, and car interiors
  • Quantity: 11 ounces

Pros

  • Easy to apply
  • Dries clear and odorless
  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Not suitable for finished and aniline leathers
  • Limited quantity compared to similar options

Get the Guardsman fabric defense on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best for Carpets and Rugs

The Best Fabric Protector Option: Scotchgard Rug & Carpet Protector
Photo: amazon.com

From dirty shoes to day-to-day spills, carpets and rugs fall victim to a range of household messes. Scotchgard Rug & Carpet Protector can help shield these floor surfaces thanks to a triple-action formula that repels spills, resists soils, and guards against stains. Once applied, the protector repels liquid spills so they won’t sink deep in carpet fibers, making them easier to wipe up.

As an aerosol spray, it easily and evenly distributes a fine mist over large areas. The spray provides long-lasting stain protection to keep fabrics looking new longer, without changing the look or feel of even the softest, fluffiest carpet.

Product Specs 

  • Form: Spray
  • Compatible Fabrics: Rugs and carpets
  • Quantity: 14 ounces

Pros

  • Triple-action formula
  • Provides spill, soil, and stain protection
  • Easy application; aerosol spray applies evenly
  • Long-lasting formula

Cons

  • Should not be used on velvet

Get the Scotchgard protector at Amazon, Ace Hardware, and Walmart.

Best for Outdoors

The Best Fabric Protector Option: Scotchgard Sun and Water Shield
Photo: amazon.com

Outdoor fabrics face their own set of challenges. Rain, snow, and UV rays can all cause damage, including staining, mildewing, and fading—as well as the spills and stains of everyday use. Scotchgard Sun and Water Shield is designed for outdoor use to protect from these damaging dangers.

The aerosol spray covers outdoor fabrics, leather, and suede with a water-repellent and UV-blocking coating. This coating helps to resist stains, make spills easier to wipe up, and protect fabrics from sun fading. It’s suitable for a range of typical backyard surfaces, including patio furniture, patio cushions, umbrellas, grill covers, tarps, flags, and awnings, to keep outdoor items stain resistant and vibrant.

Product Specs 

  • Form: Spray
  • Compatible Fabrics: Outdoor furniture, fabrics, leather, and suede
  • Quantity: 10.5 ounces

Pros

  • Protects against snow, rain, and UV rays
  • Easy to use; aerosol spray applies evenly
  • Odorless

Cons

  • Some users report sun fading after use
  • Limited quantity compared to similar options

Get the Scotchgard shield at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Best for Cars

The Best Fabric Protector Option: Chemical Guys Fabric Guard Interior Protector
Photo: amazon.com

Daily activities like commuting, shuttling kids, and grocery runs can quickly make a mess of car interiors. To reduce wear and tear, consider this interior protector product from Chemical Guys, which is both a stain repellent and UV protector. The product’s hydrophobic technology prevents spills from soaking deep into car seats and carpets.

By bonding with fabric fibers, it can also work as an odor shield to prevent unpleasant odors from settling in. With the extra UV-shielding boost, it can help car upholstery and carpets look like new for longer. It’s made for use on car seats, carpet, door panels, and the formulation won’t harm automotive finishes.

Product Specs 

  • Form: Spray
  • Compatible Fabrics: Car seats, panels, and carpets
  • Quantity: 16 ounces

Pros

  • Protects against stains, odors, and UV rays
  • Hydroponic technology
  • Odorless

Cons

  • Some users report ineffectual use

Get the Chemical Guys protector shield at Amazon, Sears, and Walmart.

Best for Large Areas

The Best Fabric Protector Option: TriNova Non-Aerosol Stain Guard
Photo: amazon.com

Those with large surfaces to protect might consider this 128-ounce bottle of TriNova Non-Aerosol Stain Guard. Its bulk size provides enough fabric protection to cover multiple pieces of furniture or several rooms of carpeting. Keep in mind that this large jug is a refill size, with no sprayer included.

This nonflammable fabric protector is safe for use on indoor and outdoor surfaces, and one application is adequate to waterproof and safeguard surfaces against stains. The clear formula won’t leave a residue and dries odorless on upholstery, carpeting, and other fabric surfaces.

Product Specs 

  • Form: Spray
  • Compatible Fabrics: Upholstery, carpeting, and other fabrics
  • Quantity: 128 ounces

Pros

  • Non-flammable formula
  • Safe for indoor and outdoor use
  • Waterproof
  • Dries clear and odorless
  • Ample quantity provided

Cons

  • No spray bottle included
  • Pricey

Get the TriNova stain guard on Amazon.

Best Sun Protectant

The Best Fabric Protector Option: ForceField - UV Sunblock Fabric Protector
Photo: amazon.com

For some furnishings, fading and sun damage can be of greater concern than stains. Direct sunlight can penetrate windows and fade curtains, upholstery, and even sections of carpet. ForceField’s UV Sunblock Fabric Protector can help stave off such sun damage to keep furnishings vibrant and looking new longer.

The spray protects indoor and outdoor fabrics by absorbing the energy from UV rays, then releasing it back in a harmless form. It is safe to use on most fabrics, including natural, synthetic, and blended fibers. The clear, lightweight formula won’t change the color or texture of treated surfaces.

Product Specs 

  • Form: Spray
  • Compatible Fabrics: Curtains, upholstery, and some carpets
  • Quantity: 22 ounces

Pros

  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
  • Safe for natural, synthetic, and blended fabrics
  • Dries clear and lightweight

Cons

  • Some users report a powerful odor and sun fading

Get the ForceField fabric protector at Amazon, Sears, and Walmart.

Our Verdict

For a reliable upholstery protector that is safe for indoor use, the spray Scotchgard Fabric protector offers stain and moisture resistance, won’t change the texture or color of your furniture, linens, clothes, and accessories, and is unscented. Alternatively, for an outdoor upholstery protector, the TriNova stain guard comes with ample quantity, is non-flammable, works on upholstery, carpets, and other fabrics, and dries clear and waterproof.

How We Chose the Best Fabric Protectors

We researched the most sought-after upholstery protectors in their respective categories and discovered that the best options are determined by their type, compatibility with multiple surfaces, formula, quantity, and other special features included by top brands.

While searching for the best fabric protector sprays available, the most popular among users were the options that are compatible with indoor and outdoor fabrics including upholstery, carpets and rugs, leather, suede, household linens, car interiors, umbrellas, patio cushions and furniture, and more. Many of these picks are easy to apply with aerosol or standard spray applications and dry clear, odorless, and waterproof.

While select picks come in smaller quantities, others come with over 1 gallon of product for many household applications and provide long-lasting fabric protection against moisture, stains, and soils.

Tips for Using Fabric Protector

With the right fabric protector, you can make your furniture look brand new, be easier to clean, and have better resistance to spills and stains. Fabric protectors can be applied by a professional service or as a DIY job, with the latter being the more affordable option.

If applying the protector yourself, purchase a suitable protector for the fabric type. Before spraying, test an inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t affect the fabric color or texture. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for preparation and apply the spray in steady, sweeping strokes to completely cover the surface. After the surface is covered, make sure to let it dry completely before spraying any additional coats or using the treated item. In sum, adhere to the following for a hassle-free and protective application:

  • Consult the product directions to ensure it is safe to use on your chosen surface
  • Conduct a colorfastness test on an inconspicuous area before applying
  • Ensure the surface is fully dry before applying more layers or using the furniture

FAQs

A fabric protector can provide your couch, rug, car interior, and other surfaces with an extra layer of protection against spills and stains. Once you’ve selected the best fabric protector for your needs, consider the following frequently asked questions and answers for the most effective use of the product.

Q: What can a fabric protector be used on?

Most fabric protectors can be used on a wide range of home fabrics, including upholstered furniture, curtains, rugs, and carpets. Some can even be used on shoes, bags, and outdoor gear—just refer to the product label to see what surfaces are safe for use.

Q: Are fabric protectors safe for all fabrics?

Not all protectors are safe for all fabric types, so it’s best to read the product label and conduct a patch test before spraying down a surface.

Q: How long does fabric protection last?

Many fabric protectors will last upward of 6 months. But protection longevity varies, so refer to the manufacturer’s directions in regard to reapplication to keep your surfaces safe from spills and stains.

Q: Can you wash a fabric that has a protector on it?

Yes, but the fabric protector may need to be reapplied after laundering.