If you buy umbrellas nowadays, you will notice right away that the fabric on them is made of synthetic fibers such as nylon, vice some natural fibers. You may wonder why this is true, especially since many people are concerned about the environment.
Why are umbrellas made up of synthetic clothes?
Umbrellas are made up of synthetic clothes because synthetic fibers such as nylon or polyester are more hydrophobic than natural fibers. As a result, synthetic clothes are waterproof and do not allow water to pass through them.
However, there are some excellent reasons umbrellas must be made of synthetic fibers such as nylon or polyester, not natural fibers like cotton, wool, etc. One of the main reasons is that synthetic fibers are more water-resistant than natural fibers. If you were to make umbrellas using natural fiber, then it would have to be treated with something to keep it repelling water, and this is not an easy task, or it would require so many chemicals that the resulting fiber would be more dangerous to the environment than using something else in the long run.
Natural fibers don’t work well for several reasons
Think about it, did you ever have a wool coat that got soaked in the rain? It smells like a wet dog and takes forever to dry. But a nylon umbrella has no smell at all, and it dries super-fast besides the fact that it keeps the user nice and dry.
There are a few types of umbrellas that have been made with cotton, for instance, but they must be coated in wax, gum, or petroleum jelly, and these eventually wear off, and the umbrella is no longer helpful. Plus, these types of umbrellas are known to have a terrible odor when they get wet, so most people would not want to own umbrellas made of a natural material like wool or cotton.
Before the invention of nylon by a chemist named Wallace Carothers for the DuPont company on Feb. 28, 1935, umbrellas had to be made of other materials. Still, the invention of nylon helped to create a much more efficient and long-lasting material for umbrellas.
Nowadays, the only umbrellas routinely made of cotton are only meant for keeping off the sun, not the rain, and are usually sold in countries with a lot of heat and sunlight, such as in Asia or Africa.
Advantages of Synthetic Fibers
Hundreds of years ago, they used natural fibers like bamboo, pine, palm leaves, or silk. However, once synthetic fibers like nylon or polyester came into the market in the 1930s, it was much cheaper and more economical to use nylon and create a superior product for keeping off the rain!
Compared to natural fibers, numerous synthetic fibers are better at resisting water and good at resisting stains. Some are specially made to hold up to water and colors, and umbrella fabric fits that description well.
Plus, the synthetic fibers stretch much more accessible, thus making it easier to pull the fiber over an umbrella’s metal or wooden frame. Plus, you may not have known that most synthetic fibers can be recycled via a unique melting process, and then the resulting material can be reused for other items.
And, in some ways, nylon is environmentally friendly. Let me explain. It takes quite a bit of water to grow cotton, and in the case of wool, you have to raise, feed, etc., the sheep, and they take up a lot of land for grazing. So, therefore, these things make nylon better since you don’t have to grow it, and it doesn’t involve raising any live creatures.
Nylon Making Process
On the other hand, synthetic fibers like nylon are created via a unique spinning process using synthetic polymers, polyesters, polyacrylamide, and polyacrylamide. These can be precisely altered as needed based on the type of material and the product using the resulting fabric.
Synthetic fibers can be fashioned in several forms of continuous filaments and then stapled with varying diameters and aspect ratios and get spun into a type of yarn for creating nylon fabric or turned out in sheets of material.
Additionally, nylon is soft and silky, so it can easily substitute silk, a natural fiber since it comes from silkworms. Modern nylon making turns out fabric for umbrellas that is strong, resilient. It can be made into various colors, besides its natural ability to repel water better and easier to clean.
Routine Cleaning of Umbrella Fabric
As stated, nylon and other synthetic fibers are also easier to clean than natural fibers. For instance, it is a simple process to clean an outside patio umbrella with bird poop, dirt, etc.
Firstly, you merely have to brush or vacuum off the surface dirt and debris with a stiff brush or vacuum cleaner. Then, mix up about a quarter cup of a liquid type of laundry detergent and mix this with a gallon of lukewarm water. Don’t use dish soap, as laundry soap works better.
Work the detergent mixture into the fabric with a brush, and put extra in the super dirty parts of the umbrella. Then, allow the umbrella to sit for around 20 minutes to let the soap soak in and loosen the dirt and stains.
Use a soft bristle brush to work the solution into the fabric using circular motions. Next, use a bit of extra elbow grease and attention to the stained areas. Some stains, like sunscreen, may require additional treatment steps. After this, rinse off with a hose and let the umbrella dry in the sun. Some umbrella fabric can be taken off the umbrellas and washed in a washer, so check the label.
The bottom line is that umbrellas are made from synthetic fibers instead of natural ones for several reasons listed above, making the resulting umbrella waterproof, silky, soft, and durable.