Aroma Textiles | Application of Aromatherapy on Textiles

Last Updated on 17/08/2021

Aroma Textiles:
An ‘aroma compound’ also known as aroma or fragrance is a chemical compound that has a pleasant smell or odor. Any chemical compound has smell or odor when two conditions are met:

  1. The compound needs to be volatile so that it can be transported to the olfactory system in the upper part of the nose,
  2. The compound needs to be sufficiently high in concentration so that it can interact with the olfactory receptors present in the upper part of the nose which in turn transmit the stimuli to the olfactory center in the brain where it is perceived as a pleasant or unpleasant odor.

Aroma compounds (giving pleasant smell) are present in food, spices, fragrance oils and essential oils. The term ‘aromatherapy’ was coined in the late 1920s by French cosmetic chemist R.M. Gattefosse. Dr .G. Bauchbauer, a modern aromatherapist of renown, proposed a definition for aromatherapy – “therapeutic uses of fragrances which at least mere volatilize to cure and to mitigate or cure diseases, infection and indisposition by means of inhalation alone.” The term aromachology was coined in 1982 to denote the science that is dedicated to the study of the interrelationship between psychology and fragrance technology to elicit a variety of specific feelings and emotions – such as relaxation, happiness and well-being. Now, the question arises, why do we need to integrate this knowledge on aromatherapy and aromachology with textiles? And, why do we need Aroma Textiles? Its pleasing smell brings about freshness, wellness, positiveness, and calmness to the person who inhales it.

aroma textiles
Fig: Aroma textiles

Aroma finish is a process by which textile material is treated with the pleasant odor producing essential oils and aromatic compounds so that the wearer gets beneficial effects. Various essential oils like lavender, rosemary, and jasmine were used in this finish. The aroma can be applied to textiles by enclosing it in a microcapsule, and then applying it to textiles by padding, coating, spraying, or bath treatment, without altering their feel and color. Aromatherapy is increasingly being used in textiles, as it can interact with the consumer by reducing stress, promoting comfort, and relaxation.

Aromatherapy application in textile industry led to a series of value-added products that give besides comfort a number of other properties (anti-acne, antimicrobial, fragrance, anti-inflammatory sedation, or soothing properties).

Need and Importance of Aroma Textiles:
Home textiles such as bed linens, pillow covers, bed sheets do not remain fresh due to everyday use. Also, among apparels, intimate garments and sportswear, sports t-shirts, socks and sports shoes are constantly exposed to human sweat which contains a lot of micro-organisms that give off bad odor. Hence, by some technological means, if textile materials used for the above purposes are made aroma textiles, it adds a lot of value to the product. Also, aroma compounds infuse a feeling of well-being and freshness in the wearer.

Aroma fabrics fabrics have several uses fields of medicine and alternative healing.

A few highlights of the fabric are:

  • Aroma fabrics can be used to control ailments like cold.
  • Aroma fabrics are used in hospitals and spas to provide a smoothing effect.

Table 1: The following table gives a list of those aroma chemicals

Aroma CategoryAroma Compound / Aroma Chemical

  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Citral, Citronellal,
  • Mandarin Oil, Decyl acetate

  • Carnation
  • Gardenia
  • Geranium
  • Lilac
  • Lily
  • Rose
  • Violet
  • Phenethyl salicylate
  • Nonyl acetate
  • Citronellal
  • Anisyl acetate
  • Hydroxy citronellal
  • Rose absolute
  • Costus oil, Methyl-2-nonenoate

  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Banana
  • Grape
  • Peach
  • Strawberry
  • Benzyl acetate
  • Allyl butyrate
  • Amyl acetate
  • Isobutyl isobutyrate
  • Allyl butyrate
  • Benzyl benzoate

  • Clove
  • Minty
  • Eugenyl acetate
  • l-carveol, l-carvone, l-menthol

  • Anise
  • Cinnamon
  • Honey
  • Sweet
  • Vanilla
  • Ethyl acetate, methyl sorbate
  • Cinnamonaldehyde
  • Allyl phenoxyacetate
  • Acetanisole
  • Anisyl acetate

Effects of Aromatherapy:
Lavender is the most used and most ver­satile of all the essential oils. It is very useful oil, especially when symptoms are due to a nervous problem. The effects of lemon, camomile, rose, carda­mom, clove, and jasmine fragrance oils on human have been confirmed by many research works. The sedative effects for the pharmaceutical and emotional effects of essential oils are listed in Tables 2 and 3 respectively.

Table 2: The pharmaceutical effects of essential oils

EffectsEssential Oil
SedationMint, Onion, Lemon, Metasequoia
CoalescencePine, Clove, lavender, Onion, Thyme
DiuresisPine, lavender Onion. Thyme, Fennel, Lemon, Metasequoia
Facilitating MensesPine, lavender. Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Chamomile,Cinnamon, Lemon
Dismissing sputumOnion, Citrus, Thyme, Chamomile
Allaying a feverGinger, Fennel, Chamomile, Lemon
HypnogenesisLavender, Oregano, Basil, Chamomile
Curing HypertensionLavender. Fennel, Lemon, Ylangylang
Be good for stomachPine, Ginger, Clove, Mint, Onion, Citrus, Rosemary, Thyme, Fennel, Basil, Cinnamon
DiaphoresisPine, lavender, Rosemary, Thyme, Chamomile, Metasequoia
Expelling windGinger, Clove, Onion, Citrus, Rosemary, Fennel, Lemon
Losing weighOnion, Cinnamon, Lemon
Relieving painVanilla, lavender. Mint, Onion, Citrus, Rosemary, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Lemon
Curing diabetesVanilla, Onion, Chamomile, Lemon
Stopping diarrheaVanilla, Ginger, Clove, lavender. Mint, Onion, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Lemon
Curing fluPine, lavender, Mint, Onion, Citrus, Rosemary, Thyme, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Metasequoia
Curing rheumatismLavender, Onion, Citrus, Rosemary, Thyme, Metasequoia
Urging sexual passionPine, Ginger, Clove, Mint, Onion, Rosemary, Thyme, Fennel, Relieving spasm. Cinnamon
Promoting appetiteClove, lavender, Mint, Onion, Citrus, Rosemary, Fennel Basil, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Lemon, Metasequoia
Relieving coughRosemary

Table 3: The sedative effects/or emotion of essential oils

EmotionEssential Oils with the Sedative Effects
AnxietyBenzoin, Lemon, Chamomile. Rose, Cardamom, Clove, Jasmine
StimulationCamphor, Balm oil
AngerChamomile, Balm oil. Rose, Ylang ylang
WretchednessBasil, Cypress, Mint, Patchouli
AllergyChamomile, Jasmine, Balm oil
TensionCamphor, Cypress, Vanilla. Jasmine. Balm oil. Lavender, Sandalwood
MelancholyBasil, Lemon, Chamomile, Vanilla, Jasmine, Lavender, Mint, Rose
HysteriaChamomile, Balm oil, Lavender, Jasmine
ManiaBasil, Jasmine, Pine
IrritabilityChamomile, Camphor, Cypress, Lavender
DesolationJasmine, Pine, Patchouli, Rosemary

Microcapsules and Aromatherapy Textiles:
Microencapsulation can be defined as a micro packaging technique wherein an active core material is encapsulated in a polymer shell of limited permeability. The objective of this technology is either to protect the active core material from the external environment till required or to affect the controlled release of the active-core to achieve desired delay until the right stimulus is encountered. The rate of release of the active core material from the capsule depends largely on:

  1. The conditions of preparation of the capsule polymer
  2. The wall characteristics of the polymer such as:
    • Crystallinity
    • Cross-linking density
    • Porosity
  3. Outside environment

As the crystallinity and cross-link density increases the release rate reduces substantially. If the outside environment is the same as the core material the release rate increases. The core ingredient may be released by:

  • Mechanical stimulus
  • Chemical stimulus
  • Thermal stimulus

The resultant release rate can be expressed as a first order rate process,

-dc ⁄dt = kc

Where k is the diffusion constant and c is the concentration gradient.

The fragrance compound and the essen­tial oil are volatile substances. The most difficult task in preparing the aromather­apy textile is how to prolong its lifetime of odors. Micro-encapsulation is an ef­fective technique to solve this. Microcapsules are minute containers that are normally spherical if they enclose a liquid or gas, and roughly of the shape of the enclosed particle if they contain a solid. It can be considered as a special form of packaging, in that particulate matter can be individually coated for pro­tection against environment and release the volatile substance from the enclosed capsule as required. This property has enabled microcapsules to serve many useful functions and find applications in different fields of technology. For example, the storage life of a volatile compound can be increased markedly by micro-encapsuling.

microencapsulation application on textile
Fig: Microencapsulation application on textile

The key to aromatherapic textile is how to make microcapsules of fragrance com­pounds and essential oils without omit­ting any ingredient in order to ensure its pharmaceutical effects. In addition, using a low-temperature polymer binder to attach a perfumed microcapsule to the surface of the textile is also an impor­tant part of preparing an aromatherapic textile. At the same time, durability in laundering and a soft handle should be carefully considered.

Although there are many effective ap­proaches to micro-encapsulation for de­creasing fragrance-release, cyclodextrins are the best regarding safety to the human body, because β-cyclodextrin has no skin irritation, no skin sensibilisation and no mutagenic effect.

Cyclodextrins are non-reducing cycli­cally linked oligosaccharides produced by certain micro-organisms of cultivated starch, which are capable of forming in­clusion compounds with molecules that fit into their cone-shaped hydrophobic cavity. As a result of the inclusion, the physico-chemical properties of the compounds are changed, e. g. the vapor pressure of volatile substance is reduced, and stabilities against light or air are en­hanced. On the other hand, the harmful and/or unpleasant odor in the surround­ing may be eliminated. Furthermore, cyclodextrins clamped on cellulose do not affect the cellulose’s properties, and cyclodextrins keep their ability to form inclusion complexes with other suitable molecules. Thus, cyclodextrins are the first choice in preparing aromath­erapy textiles.

The detailed analysis described above allowed us to select the following pro­cedure. The fragrance with β-cyclodex­trin inclusions were formed by mixture solution containing alcohol and distilled water (1:3). The solution was emulsi­fied with a high-speed mixer at a speedof about 10,000 rpm for 5 minutes. The emulsified system was transferred into a flask. The fragrance alcohol solution was added into the emulsified solutions over 30 minutes, and stirred at a temperature of 40oC for 2 hours. Then the fragrance inclusions were fixed onto cotton with a low-temperature binder by the conven­tional pad-thermofixed method at 80oC for 3 minutes.

You may also like: Fragrance Finishing of Textiles: Finishing Techniques and Future Scope

The uses of aromatherapy textile are diverse. Interior textiles such as sheets, quilt-covers, curtains, carpets and bed-gowns are suitable for the attachment of lavender, camomile, citrus or cinnamon microcapsules, which are good for hyp­nogenesis and eliminating fatigue. Pa­tients suffering high blood pressure feel sedation when they use a pillow made of fabric treated with lavender, basil, lemon or fennel microcapsules. The tired office clerk wearing clothing with a scent of lemon, rose, or jasmine oil may find his work efficiency improved. Meanwhile, it is convenient for dermatosis sufferers to be cured with the aid of underwear con­taining killing gem fabric. Perfumed toys make it easier for children to get closer to nature. Generally speaking, varied per­fume fabrics create good opportunities for customers to make the ‘cocooning’ environment they prefer to live in.

Microencapsulation Methods:
Many different manufacturing approaches have been adopted for microencapsulation. The most commonly used microencapsulation processes, including:

  1. Complex Coacervation,
  2. Polymer-Polymer Incompatibility,
  3. Interfacial Polymerisation and In Situ Polymerisation,
  4. Spray Drying,
  5. Centrifugal Extrusion,
  6. Air Suspension Coating,
  7. Pan Coating, and
  8. Emulsion Hardening Process

Market Potential of Aroma Textiles:
Fashion retailer’s interest in fragrance infused fabrics dates back to the 1960s when Kanebo, a Japanese consumer products company, manufactured women’s scented tights. In fact, hosiery and intimate apparel have been the more widely explored product categories to apply scent infused fabric technology. More recently, international companies such as Woolmark™ have formed joint ventures with the International Fragrances and Flavors association to delve into R&D initiatives with mills around the world. Woolmark™ calls its use of microencapsulation as Sensory Perception Technology™ fabrics. Woolmark™ is applying this technology to hosiery, lingerie, underwear, socks, outdoor clothing, carpeting and other interior textiles. In 2005, the Invista Company, owner of fiber brands such as LYCRA®, TACTEL® and SUPPLEX®, launched the LYCRA® Body Care Collection. The Body Care Collection includes moisturizing and fragrance features in the yarns to enhance the wearer’s sense of well being in the intimate apparel category. The micro-beads which are built into the fibers release their contents when the elastane content fabrics are stretched during wear. The Olga clothing brand launched a collection utilizing LYCRA® Body Care Collection in April 2005. The Nike clothing brand has also explored encapsulation methods to a limited extent. Associates have estimated that fragrance infused fabric technology, such as the one seen in the Nike Precool System running shirt, is less than 5% of their total buy.

Aromatherapy is increasingly popular as one of many approaches to healing with natural substances which are favored by the public, and make it possible for the individual to attempt self-therapy at home. As close friends of humans, tex­tiles can make aromatherapy easy wher­ever they are needed. Micro-encapsula­tion can effectively control the release rate of the fragrance compounds and essential oils as required, which ensures the storage life of volatile substances. We may choose various products such as fibers, fabrics, non-fabrics and garments to enjoy the pharmaceutical and emotional effects of aroma textiles. We believe that aromatherapy and aroma­therapic textiles are the first choice for people who want to keep healthy in their daily life, and these textiles will become a fashion in the near future.

Thus, we come to know that aroma textiles will have a great demand in the market. The available techniques with the incorporation of more technical inputs can lead to the production of durable, wash-fast aroma textiles!!


  1. “Microencapsulation in Textile Finishing: Scope and Challenges” by Kushal Sen and K.A.Thomas, Department of Textile Technology, IIT Delhi.
  2. Aromatherapy: the search for ‘stress solutions’. Global Cosmetic Industry. 2000,167(7):66..
  3. “Aromachology and Its Applications in the Textile Field” by C.X.Wang, Sh.L.Chen, College of Textile and Garments, Southern Yangtze University.
  4. Aromatherapeutic Textiles By Angela Cerempei DOI: 10.5772/66510
  5. “Hand-book of Technical Textiles” by A.Richard Horrocks,S.Anand.

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