How to Make Fabrics Flame Retardant

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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 alright to get the fabric wet.

Things You'll Need

  • Hot water
  • Borax
  • Boric acid
  • Spray bottle
  • 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.

  • Add 13 oz. 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.

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

  • Mix 9 oz. of borax with 4 oz. of boric acid in hot water for a highly resistant solution. Spray onto the fabric.

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

Tips & 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.

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  • Photo Credit Shelley Moore photo
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