What Are the Dangers of Scotchgard?

Scotchgard fabric protector is a spray used on upholstery, drapes or 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 or take adequate precautions while spraying it.

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. Scotchgard has both advantages and disadvantages for the home consumer:

  • 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 decor 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:

  • 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, but well-ventilated space. Do not let its container reach 122-degrees Fahrenheit. Do not store the product in direct sunlight.

The ingredients of Scotchgard include:

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

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.

When applied correctly and safely, Scotchgard can protect your 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.