Fabric is the most widely used material for trade show graphics and for good reason!
It is amazingly versatile and can print anything in full bright colors.
The technology has come a long way from the print technology itself as well as the fabric material. The synthetic fabric fibers are much tougher and stain resistant than what was available just a few years ago, but even still, because it’s fabric it can still experience stains from dirt on the floor, spills, grimy hands or anywhere else.
This post will guide you through the steps to clean the fabric without shrinking it, hurting the printing, or causing damage.
Best Practices for Cleaning Trade Show Fabric Graphics
If you’re fortunate enough to have discovered some stains or dirt on your fabric graphics with time to spare before your next event, you have several great options for getting it cleaned up and looking good. If you find yourself just hours away from showtime, you will want to do your best to spot clean the area.
I will go more into depth below on our specific materials that Production Prints provides where you can get the information you need for your specific fabric material, but for now I’m going to over-generalize for readers who may have existing fabric graphics and don’t know where they came from (which happens a lot)!
The first important thing to determine is if the entire fabric graphic needs to be cleaned or just one smaller area.
If it’s just one small area, you can target just that spot.
I recommend using a fabric cleaner called Gonzo that can be easily purchased on Amazon or other retailers. It is effective at removing most stains and is an inexpensive solution.
You will want to do a small test using the Gonzo on an area that is less conspicuous on the graphic to make sure it doesn’t cause any ink to smear or color to fade, etc.
Once you find it is safe for your graphic (dye sublimated fabric materials only) then you are free to apply sparingly to your graphic. Start with the solution applied on the back side of the graphic and gently brush it in and then wipe off with a delicate rag.
If this doesn’t work, go ahead and try using it on the front of the graphic and see if that is effective at removing the spots.
You might find that it removes it completely which is ideal. You might also find is removes 90% of it which may be enough to continue getting a little more life out of it (or at least through your show).
…Totally your call
Machine Wash your Fabric Trade Show Graphics
If most or all of the graphic is dirty and needs to hit the wash like a pair of old grimy jeans, then go ahead and set your washer to gentle cycle and on COOL or COLD water cycle only.
Do not put in the dryer. I REPEAT, DO NOT PUT IN THE DRYER!
Putting it in the dryer will cause lots of problems including your graphic not fitting right anymore on the frame.
Also, DO NOT ADD BLEACH
Ok, now that we’ve gotten the ‘no-no’s’ out of the way and the wash cycle has ended, go ahead and let it air dry.
If this fabric graphic goes with a frame, like a trade show back wall or hanging sign, then let it dry on the frame loosely (without zippering tight) until completely dry.
One more big no-no:
DO NOT PACK AWAY UNTIL IT IS 100% DRY!
…Otherwise it will get mildew.
Trade Show Fabric Cleaning FAQ’s:
Here are some questions we get that will help steer you in the right direction:
Can I Take My Trade Show Graphic to the Dry Cleaners?
Yes and No.
Your graphic most likely CANNOT be dry-cleaned, but you can take it to the dry cleaners if they offer a service where they do stain removal manually. They might have some techniques other than dry-cleaning that can remove the stains.
What Steps Can I Take to Avoid Getting It Dirty or Stained?
- When setting up your display, try to get some help (2 or more people). Most fabric graphics get dirty when one person tries to put on the graphic and it falls on the floor and gets dirty.
- Lay down a plastic throw. Grab a few cheap plastic throws from Home Depot or Ace Hardware, etc (used for painting) for certain displays like trade show hanging signs that needs the fabric graphic laid out on the ground during set up with a high chance of getting dirty.
- Pack the fabric graphic in it’s own plastic bag with holes for ventilation. Some Exhibitors simply throw the fabric graphic in the case or bag along with the frame after a show is over. This is likely to get it dirty from the frame pieces rubbing on it which can have oil.
- Use color in your artwork. If possible, add color to your graphic design. Much like t-shirts, white fabric shows stains MUCH more than color.
Specific Production Prints Fabric Material Guidelines
Here are some links to the fabric care guides for each material below. If you are not sure which one you have, send us a message below.
- Stretch Dye-Sub Fabric Care Sheet
- UV Backlit Fabric Care Sheet (no machine wash!)
I hope you found this guide helpful. Fabric is a great material for our trade show graphics. Of course over time it will see it’s share of grim and dirt, but if properly taken care of we can avoid the worst of it and get years of life from the investment.
If you have any questions, send us a message below and we will do our best to help.