A wide array of outdoor fabrics may benefit from some type of protective treatment. These include fabrics used on outdoor furniture cushions, pillows, sleeping bags and outerwear, ranging from cotton to synthetic blends and including fleece and down. Others are heftier fabrics, like canvas or other blends, used on boat and car covers, convertible and boat tops, tents, backpacks and outdoor rugs.
The type of protective treatment you choose is based on what you are protecting the fabric from and the type of fabric it is. Some outdoor fabric treatments are geared toward making the fabrics water resistant, while others protect against fading and UV rays. Still others will provide protection from both, and there are even multipurpose treatments that protect against moisture and sun, as well as grease, grime and dirt. One more option is a treatment against bacteria, especially buildup inside footwear and on camping gear that is stored for long periods.
Once you've chosen the best treatment based on your type of fabric and the type of protection you seek, your final decision is the application you prefer. Some treatments can be washed into the fabric by adding the product to the washing machine. This method works well for jackets and other outerwear, as well as other smaller washable items. Other treatments are sprayed onto the item, which works best for larger items, like tents, car covers and convertible tops. Most applications should be applied every few months to keep protection at its maximum. Fabric should be treated when it's either brand new or after it's been cleaned.