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Is Scotchgard Going Away? What’s True About Scotgard’s Product Ban

Posted on September 6, 2022

You just invested in the health and quality appearance of your upholstered furniture. Now, what are you going to do to keep it looking & feeling good? Chances are you will reach for Scotchgard. But wait. You don’t have any lying around. And the internet says the company is no longer selling it. Is that true? What can you do?

No More Scotchgard?

Most people think of Scotchgard as the go-to upholstery and fabric protector, but the New York Times reported a few years back that 3M “would stop making many of its well-known Scotchgard products.”

The NRDC also reported that “Lowe’s has banned the sale of fabric protectors that contain toxic PFAS chemicals in its stores,” which is corroborated by Lowe’s Scotchgard product page.

If you look for Scotchgard, you can still find a variety of their products online. Even at Home Depot and Target. But mainly, what you are seeing is the “Water Shield.” The fabric and upholstery “protector” is still available from some retailers, but it does seem to be discontinued.

The price of Scotchgard, while being fazed out, seems to have a higher markup in some online stores. You can currently find Amazon selling Scotchgard Fabric & Upholstery Protector in a two-can bundle of 10 oz spray for $33.91. The price should be around $10 per can. (A price which you can find elsewhere.)

If you look at the Scotchgard website in the “all available products” section, you can see that the upholstery protector is not listed. Most of the other “protector” products do not include a photo, which may be a sign that they are soon to be phased out as well.

Why Are They Discontinuing These Products?

Shockingly, the stated problem with the discontinued Scotchgard products has nothing to do with consumer health and safety. In fact, “Officials of 3M said they ran exhaustive tests on animals and humans and found no adverse health effects.”

So what is the issue? It is difficult to parse out the exact thinking, but because the chemicals (which are not harmful) stay in the body and the environment, 3M wanted to phase them out. But because replacing these products with similar products would take too long, the company has scrapped all affected product lines.

The reporting on the subject has not done a great job (in this writer’s opinion) of conclusively and clearly delineating what about the product makes it harmful to the environment. It is merely stated repeatedly in vagaries that the chemicals last longer than expected.

It appears that a chemical breaking down in an unspecified time frame makes it an “environmental problem.” But how fast something should break down is not specified or advised in the eyes of people applauding this decision. 

People such as Linda Greer, senior scientist at Natural Resources Defense Council, say, “3M deserves great credit for identifying this problem and coming forward voluntarily.” What that “problem” is remains unspecified. Upholstery cleaning companies have not been advised as to any risks of using the product.

3M, the manufacturer of Scotchgard products, did reach out to regulatory agencies for guidance, and it would appear that they were NOT directed to discontinue the product. 

The decision to stop manufacturing these Scotchgard products does not seem to be the result of government action, nor a widespread change in the understanding of the harms of PFAS.

What Upholstery Protectors Remain?

Despite the ban Lowes has on some fabric protectors, you can still get the Vectra fabric protector from Lowe’s. But, as you can tell from the reviews, it is a far inferior product to Scotchgard. The reason for its inferiority likely has to do with the fact that it does not use the chemicals that are being banned.

Besides the chemical compounds, it is also important to find a spray that can disperse the coating agent widely and evenly. Many products clog or have their spray levers stick after minimal use. For the best results with upholstery cleaning and post service protection, call us today!

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