Nothing last forever; How long should your comforter last?

I just received and email from the Drycleaning&Laundry Institute.
You can read about the DLI here: http://www.dlionline.org/Drycleaners

As I looked at their analysis of the life of house hold items (comforters, drapes, etc - you can review their chart below) I knew that the average consumer of drycleaning services would not agree with the average life expectancies the DLI publish.

The DLI compiles this data for their drycleaner members, as they should, because better than 95% of textiles that are past their life, die during the cleaning process.  Textile damage is often hard to spot before cleaning, and the drycleaner is not usually told the story of the items in their care.  Alas, sometimes the drycleaner is left holding the bag, after the fact, to an unhappy and frustrated customer.

As I thought about it, I realized it was a question of averages; some things wear out after one use, some last over 10 years.  I have towels for well over 5 years that look great.  My Thanksgiving tablecloth has been in the family for 2 generations and my drapes are over 20 years old (I hesitated to share that with you - I don't think that is a good idea and I have just put it on my list to replace them!).  However I also have t-shirts that have holes after one washing (I can explain why that happens, but it is not the content of this story).

In my case I clean all items right after use, even if they don't appear dirty AND their use is limited.   Heavy use, means heavier wear.  And I have the understanding of exactly what forces are at work on my household textiles.

The challenge with trying to put a timetable to the life of a textile is that a brand new tablecloth, even if it is well made, could be used and then stored without cleaning, and when it gets pulled out the following year - aged stains, or even holes may have destroyed it.

My favorite example of unexpected wear in a household item is a down comforter.  I have had clients bring in a comforter for cleaning.  I always recommend washing down comforters in water.  Every once in a while (writing this I realize its been years since Ive had this complaint, so I had better prepare for it) The comforter will lose 20%, 50% or more of the down on cleaning!  What happened?  Typically it is an older comforter (over 5 years) and it had been put away in storage.  I think in the extreme cases it may have been slightly damp during storage and the down deteriorated over time.  When the item was cleaned, all that loose down dissolved and was washed away.  Under poor conditions, that comforter could be destroyed after only a year.

My point?  It is impossible to know how long something will last - but these averages should make you feel good about your things if they are lasting longer.

My father once told a client who's item had torn during cleaning (turns out it was over 7 years old), that the value of the item depreciates similar to an asset.  She had worn the item for years and had gotten pleasure, utility out of that use.

In line with that analogy, I suggest, that the next time you have a textile (clothes or comforter) last longer than the life expectancy, appreciate the extra time and be aware that nothing lasts forever!

Think of it this way: your $1000 custom bed set is really costing you $200 a year, and after 5 years, its all gravy:-)


DLI Vol 28:
Life Expectancy of Household Items
The American National Standards Institute, Inc. approved the Fair Claims Guide for Consumer Textile Products. This standard provides the guidelines for determining liability for claims adjustment purposes for textile products. It also includes the following life expectancy chart for household textile items: 

Life Expectancy Table
Item
Years
Bedspreads
six years
Blankets
Heavy Wool and Synthetic Fibers
10 years
Lightweight
five years
Electric
five years
Comforters
five years
Down
five years
Curtains
Sheer
three years
Glass Fiber
three years
Draperies
Lined
five years
Unlined
four years
Sheer
three years
Glass Fiber
four years
Sheets and Pillow Cases
two years
Slipcovers
three years
Table Linen
Fancy
five years
Other
two years
Towels
three years
Upholstery Fabrics
five years
Articles Coated or Flocked
two years

How long the items last also depends on selection. Consider the following before purchasing a household product:
  • Will the material be durable?
  • Will the fabric resist stains and soil?
  • Are there any protective coatings of finishes available that will prolong the useful life of the textile?
  • Is the fabric preshrunk?
  • Is the fabric resistant to light, fading or pollution?
  • Do any care instructions come with the purchase? Read all instructions or information before buying the item.

Proper care will always help prolong the beauty of the household textile. Here are some basic rules to protect and prolong the beauty of household textiles:
  • Protect all furnishings from sunlight, fumes, and pets.
  • Damage, like tears, should be repaired immediately.
  • Vacuum and/or brush to remove dust regularly.
  • Follow the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations.
  • Do not allow the item to become extremely soiled, and have any stains removed immediately.
  • Clean household textiles before storing.



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