Waterproof fabrics have a variety of uses, from making a shower curtain that will keep water off the bathroom floor to making clothes for a factory worker to wear for protection. The last century has seen the development of a number of important waterproof fabrics that help people stay dry and safe.

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Latex is commonly used in hospital gloves to prevent the transmission of germs.

Latex or Natural Rubber

Latex or natural rubber is an elastic hydrocarbon polymer that comes from a milky substance produced by a tree typically found in rain forests, according to the Surgical Materials Testing Laboratory. Rubber first came to England in 1770 and was initially used for rubbing off pencil marks. Latex is a very stretchy, stress-resistant material that has many uses. It is popular for use in certain types of clothing, and many companies manufacturer latex clothing today.

Gore-Tex

W.L. Gore and Associates patented Gore-Tex, a fabric that is both waterproof and breathable, in 1976. Since then, it has been used in medical implants, wire insulation and fabrics, according to the Gore company website. Gore-Tex is effective at keeping out moisture and is popular for use in all-weather jackets and clothing for outdoor enthusiasts. The clothing has pores to enhance its breathability, so the wearer must clean it often to keep dirt and sweat from blocking the pores.

Vinyl

Vinyl is a synthetic compound material, a type of plastic derived from ethylene and chlorine. It is short for polyvinyl chloride resin. The website whatisvinyl.com states that scientists discovered vinyl in 1920 as they were searching for a material that was easy to make, durable and cheaper for use in everyday products. Vinyl is usually waterproof, strong and durable and comes in a variety of colors. Because it is plastic, you can recycle discarded vinyl. Also, about 57 percent of vinyl is salt, which is a renewable substance.

Fluoropolymer Fabrics

Fabrics that are coated with fluoropolymers, which are fluorinated plastics, are waterproof. The substance is resistant to heat and chemicals, and provides insulation from electrical charges, according to The Plastics Portal. It is also non-stick and typically transparent. Factories often use fluoropolymers in protective garments to protect workers from chemicals.