Open Forum

Cleaning Your Soft Goods

  • 1.  Cleaning Your Soft Goods

    Posted 27 days ago
    Good afternoon theatre friends,

    I wanted to know what you do to clean your soft goods onstage. Do you wipe them down, vacuum or have them professionally cleaned.

    Thanks in advance!

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    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School
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  • 2.  RE: Cleaning Your Soft Goods

    Posted 27 days ago
    Soft Goods on stage...

    OK, question #1, are your curtains Cotton or Synthetic Velour?

    All curtains should be vacuumed with the grain yearly to remove dust. I suggest a Canister Vac and a ladder or lift to do this they should be constructed with the fabric grain running down so you should start at the top and work your way down.

    Synthetic Velour is inherently flameproofed
    Cotton Velour are not.
    There should be a flame proof certificate in your school front office on record to find this out.

    If you are seeing white salt looking staining you may need to have your curtains re-treated or replaced based on their overall condition.

    Typically Cotton velour is recommended to be retreated on a 3-7 year basis on your space and it conditioning.

    If you have to replace I Strongly recommend purchasing synthetic velour.



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    Jerry Onik
    V.P. Theatrical Supplies and Equipment
    Heartland Scenic Studio
    Omaha NE
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  • 3.  RE: Cleaning Your Soft Goods

    Posted 25 days ago

    To clarify what Jerry Onik is saying:  'synthetic velours' and 'synthetic muslins' (including cycloramas and scrims) are typically referred to as IFR (Inhernetly Fire Resistant) materials.

    Regardless of weather or not you are having your drapes cleaned and/or retreated, always get small rips, tears, and lose thread runners repaired whenever you find them.  These represent a weakness in the overall fabric structure and if snagged or pulled again in the same area, they will rip further.  Chain pockets at the bottom of your drapes are particularly subject to damage as drapes are sometimes set too low and bunch-up on the deck where people will (not may) step on them and trip over them.  Always trim (adjust) the height of the battens to keep your drapes off of the floor.

    Also, if your drapery goods do not have a unique I.D. label on them, and a tag that CLEARLY states the date of the last fire retardant treatment (or identifies the fabric as IFR), make sure the company servicing the drapes adds these tags.  The unique I.D. label is important so you can track each item of dates of treatments and repairs.  Over time, many curtains will have different dates of fabrication, replacement, and service, so this gives you a way to know which ones are which.  When I find drapes without dates I always assume they are expired and need to be replaced (unless someone can show me a dated purchase order which proves otherwise), which can be an expensive issue.

    Be sure communicate with your administration that drapes and other soft goods do not have an infinite life and long-term budgets should plan on servicing every drape every year (minor repairs), and retreating non-IFR drapes every 5 years, and replacing them every 20 years (some may last longer, some may be damaged more frequently, but this will at least see that they have budget numbers planned-for).

    Get them to understand that Drapes like 'tires for a car' -- they need to have the tread and air pressure checked frequently; be balanced, rotated, and aligned on a regular basis, and they do wear-out (not to mention the occasional blow-out repair due to the unforeseen incident).



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    Erich Friend
    Theatre Consultant
    Teqniqal Systems LLC
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