Stress free guide to product compliance

2021-03-08
ProductIP
Expert

Softening of textiles

Disclaimer: This document provides guidance and is not a legally binding interpretation and shall therefore not be relied upon as legal advice.

Textile chemicals - softeners

Softeners are finishing agents that are applied to textile materials to provide them with a pleasing touch or feel. As a general rule, the softening agents applied are lubricating agents, which facilitate the fiber sliding within the fabric structure, thus granting easier deformation and creasing of the fabric.
Softeners can be added during washing and rinsing and both before or after dyeing.

The most common used type of softeners during the wet-processing fabric manufacturing are;

  • Non-ionic softeners
  • Anionic softeners
  • Cationic surfactants
  • Silicone-based softeners
  • Reactive softeners

Almost all apparel and home furnishing textiles are treated with softeners.
Carpets and (textile) wall coverings are normally not treated with softeners.

Chemical risks

Some restricted chemicals might be present in softeners used during wet processing. Although they are washed out of the fabric residues might remain in the marketed product.

While residues of these restricted chemicals in the final product may be below legislative thresholds, these substances may already have provided a risk to workers, and their presence may cause local environmental problems.

Softeners might contain:

  • Alkylphenols(AP);
  • Alkylphenol ethoxylates(APEO);
  • Allergens;
  • Restricted fragrance chemicals;
  • Restricted biocides.

The use of softeners in textiles is very common, make sure you know and manage the production processes.
For the chemical risk assessment of materials this is essential information from your supply chain.

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