What Are the Dangers of Scotchgard?

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Scotchgard fabric protector spray may be used on upholstery to protect it from stains and spills.
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Scotchgard fabric protector is a spray used on upholstery, drapes and carpets to protect these items from stains or spills. 3M, the product's manufacturer, provides warnings that lists the hazards of using it incorrectly. People sensitive to chemicals should avoid using Scotchgard. But if you must use Scotchgard, make sure to take adequate precautions while spraying it.

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As with all chemical products available to consumers, the product has a materials Data Safety Sheet that lists the hazards and warnings users should be aware of when applying this product.

Due to the hazards, Scotchgard pulled the product in 2000 after conducting studies internally for toxicity as well as getting pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency. The company, 3M, launched a new reformulated product in 2003, and there are also numerous alternatives to Scotchgard that can be used.

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Scotchgard can be dangerous because it's very flammable, can cause dizziness or drowsiness or can shift the oxygen in a room and lead to suffocation.

Information for Consumers

Scotchgard has both advantages and disadvantages for the home consumer:

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  • Stain- and liquid-repellent.
  • Requires annual applications.
  • Must be applied to already-clean upholstery and carpets.
  • A chemical-based product.
  • Hazardous when inhaled or ingested.
  • Protects expensive home furnishings, upholstery and carpets.

Some of Scotchgard's hazards include:

  • Extreme flammability.
  • Can cause drowsiness or dizziness.
  • May shift the oxygen in a room and cause suffocation.

The 3M ​company recommends the following when applying Scotchgard:

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  • Keep Scotchgard away from hot surfaces, heat or sparks.
  • Do not smoke when applying it.
  • Do not spray it onto flames or other source of ignition.
  • Do no breathe its dust, fumes, mist, vapors, gas or spray.
  • Always use in a well-ventilated area or outdoors.
  • Dispose of containers safely; do not throw them into a fire or pierce the container.

When storing Scotchgard, keep it tightly closed or sealed in a cool, dark, well-ventilated space. Do not let its container reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit and do not store the product in direct sunlight.

Scotchgard ingredients include:

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  • Acetone.
  • Carbon dioxide.
  • Isopropyl alcohol.
  • Light alkylate petroleum naphtha.
  • Fluorochemical urethane in a proprietary secret formula.

Scotchgard Safe-Handling Practices

Wear goggles, gloves and a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health face mask or respirator when applying Scotchgard in your home. The same company that makes Scotchgard also makes NIOSH-approved face masks and respirators.

Store the chemical away from acids or machines that generate oxygen or other oxidizing agents. Open the windows to allow adequate ventilation in the home when applying it to furniture or carpets. Remove small children and pets from the area where you plan to spray it.

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Warning

Avoid direct skin contact with the chemical; wash your hands with soap and water after immediate exposure. Flush your eyes with cool water if it gets in them and rinse your mouth out if you accidentally swallow it. Get immediate medical help if you begin to feel unwell after use. If you accidentally breathe it in, go outside to get access to fresh air.

When applied correctly and safely, Scotchgard can protect your upholstered furniture and carpets. Don't use fans or heaters to speed the drying process, as this can lead to the problems previously listed. Let the product dry sufficiently at least overnight or up to 24 hours with the room well-ventilated before use. Avoid applying it during wet or humid conditions as it will take too long to dry.

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Laurie Brenner

Laurie Brenner

As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.