How to Make Fabrics Flame Retardant

Written by shelley moore
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How to Make Fabrics Flame Retardant
(Shelley Moore photo)

A flame-retardant solution makes material resistant to burning when it encounters a low-energy ignition source, such as a cigarette lighter. Textile manufacturers add certain chemical compounds to create flame-retardant fabrics, but you can turn any fabric into a flame-resistant material with simple household ingredients. This solution can be applied to clothing, bedding, upholstered furniture or vehicle interiors, as long as it's all right to get the fabric wet.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Hot water
  • Borax
  • Boric acid
  • Spray bottle

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  1. 1

    Purchase a box of borax, such as 20 Mule Team Borax. Be careful not to buy detergent containing borax for this project. Borax is an excellent laundry booster and can be used for other types of cleaning, so you'll have additional uses for it.

  2. 2

    Add 369gr of borax to 1 gallon of very hot water, and stir until fully dissolved. Borax dissolves much better in hot water than in warm or cold water.

  3. 3

    Pour the solution into a spray bottle, shake, and spray onto the fabric. Let the fabric dry.

  4. 4

    Mix 266ml of borax with 113gr of boric acid in hot water for a highly resistant solution. Spray onto the fabric.

  5. 5

    Reapply the mixture after laundering the fabric, because borax and boric acid comes out during washing.

Tips and warnings

  • If you're looking for a natural flame-retardant fabric, wool is the answer.
  • Boric acid can be purchased at pharmacies and many other stores, as it is used for a variety of topical medicinal purposes. Because it also functions as a natural insect control agent, if you buy boric acid in the garden section, make sure the product is boric acid only and does not contain insecticide.
  • Although borax and boric acid are not very toxic, they still should not be used on fabrics which children or pets might chew or lick.

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