Is Scotchgard safe? It’s a question asked more and more frequently, given the increased awareness surrounding toxic ingredients in fabric protectors. While the safety of Scotchgard and its fellow brands remains (literally) up in the air, new and improved methods of fabric protection are gaining popularity.

A number of ingredients found in Scotchgard can pose potential health risks to humans and animals. Knowing and understanding these harmful ingredients is the first step towards living a toxic-free lifestyle!

We’ll identify which ingredients you need to look out for, why they’re a potential threat to your health and provide a safe alternative to Scotchgard that actually works.

The truth behind traditional fabric protectors

Several years ago, a worldwide health alert was issued stating that the main ingredients in Scotchgard were potentially toxic chemicals. These ingredients were found in human tissue, wildlife and the environment. A worldwide study found that the only human samples in which there were no traces of the chemicals was in Korean War soldiers, gathered before Scotchgard was invented.

What’s in it?

The dreaded ingredient causing the uproar is a fluorocarbon called PFOS. It’s among one of the most persistent synthetic chemicals on the planet. Constant exposure to these chemicals can create a build up in our bodies, which can lead to some pretty scary health defects including weakened immunity, hormonal imbalances, reduced fertility and an increased risk of cancer.

What action did 3M take?

3M (the company that produces Scotchgard), has since switched to an alternative formula using perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS) in a bid to make Scotchgard safe. PFBS is claimed to be non-toxic, however it still persists in the environment.

While 3M are adamant that PFBS is not toxic and does not accumulate, it can still enter the bloodstream. 3M rebutted this concern by assuring consumers that it does no harm at low levels, and is eliminated quickly.   

The shift in Scotchgard’s chemistry may present less detrimental health concerns and environmental impacts, however the product is less effective. More PFBS needs to be used to achieve the same result as PFOS.

Taking a different approach

Over time, we are learning more about the potential threats these ingredients pose and finding safe, alternative ways to waterproof and protect fabrics. Nanotechnology is now used as an alternative, and increases the performance of a fabric protector without the harmful effects on our bodies and the environment. Nanotechnology has allowed us to alter silicon dioxide (a natural substance), so that it creates a thin, malleable layer to be used as an effective protective barrier on surfaces. Our non-toxic fabric protector is water-based, odourless and proven to outshine traditional fabric protector sprays in every way.

Is Scotchgard is safe for babies, pets, our bodies and the environment? The answer is still unclear. While its ingredients have been altered to improve its safety, the effectiveness of the product relies heavily on the use of chemicals.

Our expert advice- opt for an eco-friendly fabric protector that is free from PFOS, PFAS and PFC. It’s better to be safe than sorry! Find out more about the ingredients in fabric protectors that could be harming your family here.  

21 Responses

  1. 3M & Chemours just slightly changed the deadly C-8 molecule, which gives many types of terminal cancer and birth defects, and the cancers and birth defects were still being caused by the new chemical in animal trials.
    The worst thing is it is/was mostly used to make Teflon pans, which last about 2 months before the surface disintegrates and then becomes more sticky than anything – most overrated product in history.

  2. Was over the moon when I found this product!!! Been through ovarian cancer and succeeded in getting rid of it! So very careful what I use around me now that I can control. My lounge room is outdoors in Queensland so really needed protecting have sprayed all my cushions and rugs and soooo impressed with the results THANK YOU for giving us an alternative !!!!!!

      1. I work for a Chemdry franchise in the UK and we had a product leather and vinyl conditioner which was all of a sudden changed about 5yrs ago and replaced with a much poorer version less effective and results not as good. I’m wondering if pfos was used originally in the product as all we were told was an ingredient was no longer available thsts why product was changed?

      2. Have some drapery fabric that I purchased years ago that was treated with Scotchgard. Can this be removed by laundering?

        1. Hi Judy, thank you for your comment. Usually Scotchgard wears off after about 12 months or so. The best way to know is to do a spill test and see if the water sinks into the fabric or not. We hope this helps!

  3. We bought a sofa from Sears and asked for it to e scotchguarded. The sofa was delivered and the next day a guy arrived to scotchguard it. We had a newborn and I asked if it was O.K. and was assured it was harmless.
    I enclosed ourselves with the baby in the bedroom. And a few minutes later the smell of the chemicals was overwhelming. We fled the apartment and I noticed the workman was dressed in a hazmat suit. When we returned a few hours later, all the neighbours in the building were complaining about the powerful chemical smell. My son had respiratory probllems and multiple allergies. This chemical is highly toxic. This was in 1980

    1. Thank you for sharing Charles, this is unfortunately all too common from our experience. We hope more and more people are now aware of the health issues that can be caused by toxic products and turn to eco friendly and non toxic products like ours.

  4. Earlier this year, however, the company said it learned that an alternative would take years, and so it decided to phase out many of the Scotchgard products and focus on creating new lines.

    1. Hi Larry. protectME is safe to use on fabric masks. Once cured, it doesn’t change the look, feel or smell of the fabric and creates a breathable coating.

      Obviously, we want to reiterate that it only protects from water and has not been tested to work against viruses or microbes. We hope this helps!

  5. Soon after applying Scotchguard to a new chair I developed a rash around my neck and sides of my face (where the chair is in direct contact with my skin). I have covered the chair with a sheet for now, but I’m wondering if there is a way to remove the product from the chair.

    1. Hi Grace, we can’t comment on ways of removing Scotchguard or other products unfortunately. It may be best to contact them directly or search online. Sorry we couldn’t help!

      1. Hi what help or reassurance can I get . I used lots of Scotchgard over 15 years as a carpet and upholstery technician . I had read all the coshh regs in the UK regarding these all saying safe use with face mask in a well ventilated room ie open the windows. Do not drink etc… It never said that long-term contact would cause harm. I am very worried now. Not just for myself my children who have Autism and families that I have worked in there homes and businesses.

        1. I’m really sorry to hear that you are now worried about your safety. Unfortunately “scotchgard” is not one of our products so I can’t really comment on the health affects that it might cause. I would recommend speaking with your doctor and all the best

  6. I was wondering the same. Obviously it’s time to test it against viruses and microbes.

    1. Hi Denise,

      We can’t comment on using the Scotchguard brand or other products unfortunately.

      However, we can say that protectME is safe to use on fabric masks. Once cured, it doesn’t change the look, feel or smell of the fabric and creates a breathable coating.

      Obviously, we want to reiterate that it only protects from water and has not been tested to work against viruses or microbes. We hope this helps!

  7. I swear Iv e had an itchy rash for 3 months now caused by scotchgaurd on new sofa. Any cure? Also should I get rid of new sofa?

    1. Hi Jean,

      I’m sorry to hear that you feel “scotchgard” has made you itchy. As “scotchgard” not our product, I can’t really comment on it but I do know it does normally last for around a year on the fabric. Once it has worn off, you would be able to use protectME as a natural, water based fabric protector.

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