At Splash Fabric, we love creating quality, innovative fabrics. We make fail-proof products that hold up to your lifestyle while looking awesome! Rugged whimsy for your everyday. In 2013 we discovered laminated cotton -- truly magical stuff that’s lightyears ahead of oilcloth but offers that same colorful and quirky vibe. It’s eco-friendly, biodegradable, kid-safe, 100% cotton with a water based polyurethane coating. Come touch it for yourself! Here’s how laminated cotton really excels compared to oilcloth:
- Ecofriendly and Biodegradable
- Food Safe
- Consumer Healthy
- Pliable and buttery soft
- High heat resistance
- Washable and if necessary ironable
What is Oilcloth?
Most of us can recall our parents’ or grandparents’ oilcloth table coverings -- colorful, shiny and spill proof. When oilcloth was invented in the 18th century as a waterproof fabric, it was a welcome and practical alternative to the table coverings people had used for centuries from Roman times.
Waterproofing was achieved by using boiled linseed oil and metal salts which often included lead in “curing” the naked fabric – yuck! Since paint and decorations adhered well to the outer surface of the fabric, it wasn’t long before this fabric was being used for decorative waterproof tablecloths, on floors and any other surface that needed protection. The colors and patterns were infinite.
The Family Pocket Book: Or Fountain of True and Useful Knowledge from about 1760 begins its Oilcloth recipe by saying “How to make Oil Cloth; - very necessary item for country people or any that travel in wet weather” Does this sound relevant Seattleites? Apart from being time consuming, the process was extremely poisonous. Luckily for you, you do not need to watch the above video to weatherproof your hat, your bag, your shelter, it’s 2021 baby! Splash Fabric’s got ya covered.
While traditional oilcloth gives some water-resistant properties, it isn’t completely waterproof and is a bit smelly, stiff and crinkly. Eventually the original manufacturers of oil cloth like Columbus Coated Fabric Corporation (founded in 1900) stopped making traditional oilcloth. In the 1940’s “Better living through chemistry” was employed and a vinyl coating with plasticizers was applied to the fabric to make it waterproof and durable.
Columbus Blenback Oil Cloth was produced in a wide variety of prints of so called “oil cloth”. They also promoted its use for wall and floor coverings. They even published a book of patterns and instructions for making all manner of household goods such as lunch bags, totes, seat covers doilies placemats and…Tablecloths.
Fast forward a bit to the 1950’s where efficiency in the home is becoming all the rage. At some point the cotton fabric was eliminated and modern (i.e., toxic) oilcloth was born. (Think better living through chemistry). Except for that dinner-in-a-dish trend that led to horrific creations like Tuna Jell-o Pie and Ham and Bananas Hollandaise, they did get their place settings right….kinda. See, while their tablecloths and household goods looked shiny and cute, they were stiff, not machine washable and still, super toxic! Polyvinyl chloride (vinyl) is made from petroleum, a very unsustainable resource. The process of making PVC based oilcloth is really bad for the environment and it’s just as bad if not worse when they’re thrown away. They do not break down and steadily release carcinogenic dioxins for years and years into the earth. This might be why most Oilcloth today is made in countries with lax environmental and safety standards. Beautiful – but check out the warning sign fabric stores display next to their “oilcloth” displays:
“Modern” PVC oilcloth is pretty nasty stuff containing Bisphenol A (BPA) and Polyvinyl Chlorate (PVC), which have both been associated with health risks, especially for young children. Ever wonder how the same material that is used to make rigid PVC pipe can also be used to make a flexible tablecloth? The answer is by adding the plasticizer DEHP to make PVC into a flexible Fabric. DEHP is so bad for children and pregnant women it is banned in California as an additive to any children’s products but a 2011 study by the Danish EPA referenced on page 45 in this CPSC report on Phthalates in consumer products found that oilcloth contained DEHP concentrations up to 25%! Even the addition of all these nasty chemicals makes “modern” oilcloth less versatile and durable than the original stuff. It’s stiff, doesn’t drape well, and repeated washings tend to crack and peel the printed surface. And just to repeat: It’s really tough on the planet.
Why choose Splash Fabric’s Laminated Cotton over oilcloth?
Splash Fabric’s laminated cotton is a relatively new, eco-friendly food safe material that we’ve been fashioning into colorful, fun, and functional products since 2013. It’s waterproof, lightweight, durable and heat resistant, and it contains no PVC, BPA or lead phthalate. Our fabric is soft on the plain underside and waterproof on the printed side. And while a quick wipe cleans our fabric right up, it’s also machine washable, a huge advantage over oilcloth and other waterproof materials. Oilcloth will break down with repeated machine washing, but laminated cotton takes machine washing in stride and can be scrunched up easily so it won’t occupy your entire machine. And since laminated cotton is softer and more pliable, you can use it for all kinds of products while making them exceptionally durable and waterproof.
Splash Fabric is safe for your family and the planet
Splash Fabric’s laminated cotton is biodegradable. It also complies with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and has earned “Oeko-tex® Certification”: https://www.oeko-tex.com/en/apply-here/standard-100-by-oeko-tex, the global standard for environmentally friendly and socially responsible textile production. Our fabric is also Food Safe. The STC testing laboratory tested our fabric and found that it easily complies with the FDA Food Safety standard CFR 175.300.
Modern Oilcloth does not comply with these consumer or environmental standards. Since it contains cancer-causing lead phthalates, the CPSIA considers it to be unsafe for use by children under the age of 12 This Mother Earth Article discusses the safety of PVC in more detail. BPA, PVC and DEHP also raise health concerns, especially in fabrics that contact food (i.e. tablecloths, placemats, tote bags for groceries, in other words all of the traditional uses for oilcloth). Oilcloth production also involves multiple toxic chemicals and processes that harm the environment and the folks who make it.
Splash Fabric Laminated Cotton – the natural next step forward
Laminated cotton is consumer-safe, eco friendly, Food Safe and provides superior performance in the areas where even updated formulations of oilcloth struggle. We see our product as a natural step forward. A step forward that marries the beautiful, elegant, sometimes quirky, and always fun patterns that people have associated with their beloved oilcloth of old, with a material that just works better. From the environmental benefit, to the impact on you and your family’s health, to its surprising versatility, we think our fabric rocks. We invite anyone looking for that old-school oilcloth cool to make the switch to Splash Fabric’s wide array of laminated cotton fabric and experience just how great the next step can be: https://splashfabric.com/pages/our-fabrics