What constitutes a durable fabric?
The top two factors in the durability of a fabric are the fiber content, and the tightness of the weave.
Fiber Content: In general, synthetic fabrics such as Polyester, Nylon and Acrylic are more durable than their natural counterparts. Fabrics made from these synthetics do not readily absorb stains, and tend to be strong fibers by their nature. Leather, a natural upholstery, blows this truth out of the water–as no other fabric can compare in terms of strength, ease of care, or beautiful aging. Otherwise, natural fibers vary significantly in strength and durability–however Cotton is generally a good choice. Cottons blends are resistant to fading and often make very sturdy covers.
Tightness of Weave: Generally speaking, the tighter the weave of a fabric, the easier it is to keep clean and the longer it will resist damage from abrasion. With a tight weave, abrasives, such as dirt or hair, do not penetrate the fabric–which can cause damage or pilling with a looser upholstery. Essentially, dirt and dust stay close to the surface and out of the fabric weave, making it easier to clean and longer lasting. There is also close relation between the tightness of a weave and ‘thread count’, as the more tightly woven a fabric, the higher the concentration of threads within a particular area.
Cleaning: The industry standard cleaning code is a ‘letter’ that designates what type of cleaner to use on a fabric for spot cleaning. ‘W’ stands for a Water-Based Cleaner; spot clean only with water or a water-based upholstery cleaner, shampoo or a mild detergent. ‘S’ stands for a Solvent-Based Cleaner; spot clean only with a water-free upholstery cleaner. ‘W/S’ means you can use either a Water or Solvent-Based Cleaner. ‘X’ means it should only be cleaned by vacuuming or by lightly brushing with a soft brush.