Lycra Damage in Denim Fabrics: Reasons and Remedies

Lycra Damage in Denim Fabrics: Reasons and Remedies

Md. Amir Khasru
B.Sc. in Textile Engineering
Department of Yarn Engineering, SARSTEC


Lycra is an elastic fiber, the brand name of spandex fiber, exceptional elastic synthetic fiber. It is generally used in undergarments and special garments and also used in denims. For its extraordinary elastic properties, there are too many uses in the garments sector. Spandex / Lycra mixed with cotton, polyester, etc fibers to give the desirable elastic property. In denim trousers, a small amount of spandex/Lycra is used to make the pants more comfortable. In women’s trousers, more Lycra is than in men’s trousers for its comfort.

Lycra damage in denim
Figure 1: Lycra damage in denim

Lycra Damage in Denim Fabrics: 
The washing industry has a significant issue with Lycra damage when washing trousers with high, super, or ultra stretch. Lycra and spandex damage and breakage can occasionally occur because their percentage in the total fabric composition is higher than in other clothing. Lycra Damage is the term used to describe the purposeful or inadvertent tearing of Lycra yarn in a fabric. Lycra mixed yarn is typically utilized in denim fabric’s weft direction. Blend yarn is frequently provided in both warp and weft directions. If, for whatever reason, this Blend Lycra Yarn Damage happens after the fabric is made and after washing, it is referred to as Lycra Damage. It detracts from the dress’s elegance.

Lycra damage with red mark
Figure 2: Lycra damage with red mark

Reason for Lycra Damage:
There are many reasons behind lycra damage in denim fabrics discussed below.

1. Using blunt needle at sewing:
To reinforce stitch to hold the seams together in bar tack area, needle is used during sewing. If the needle too sharp or blunt, it may tear the Lycra / spandex fiber and finally damage. Generally, this fault didn’t visible at sewing stage but during washing it create seam puckering at those points.

2. High temperature during washing and drying:
At higher temperature Lycra or spandex fiber melt and deform its shape. During washing, higher temperature leads to fiber damage or breakage and the garments become limpy.

3. Enzyme wash:
During enzyme wash, the enzymes that hydrolyze or break the cellulose fiber can also the twist of yarn. Sometime bio-degradation of Lycra happens and these Lycra breakage.

4. Fiber fault:
If there is any fiber damage during spinning of Lycra spinning due to machine’s firing in fiber, at the weakest portion of the twist Lycra can be broken.

5. High amount of pumice stone:
Excess uses of Pumice stone during washing sometimes hamper fabric. Pumice stone is a kinds of stone comes from volcano explosion, very light weight stone but in wet condition become hard and heavy weight , thus used in denim washing to give desired wash. Use of excess pumice stone breaks the Lycra yarn and cause Lycra damage.

6. Deformation due to cutting:
In spreading, spread the fabric carefully. If not done carefully which may produce extra pressure on Lycra and may cause damage. If less sharp knife is used while cutting the fabric, the Lycra yarn wears and due to this tension, the Lycra yarn of the fabric is damaged and the yarn breakage occurs.

7. High Tension / Tite bundles:
Lycra’s physical and chemical changes are responsible for Lycra damage if fabric containing Spandex/Lycra is kept under excessive pressure or tight.

8. Late for Next Stage:
Many times if the fabric is left for a long time or the next stage is delayed, the Lycra gets damaged.

9. Operator core handling:
If the operator is not skilled, then damage is done many times.

10. Washing chemical ratio:
Excessive washing chemical use sometimes damages Lycra. Addition of chemicals reacts with Lycra.

11. Lycra deformation in store:
Sometimes uneven fabric roll, create extra pressure at some area of rolled fabric may caused Lycra deformation. Less carefully transportation of fabric role, create extra stress on fabric which may cause Lycra damage.

12. In finishing:
For making better outlook some times over process in done in finishing are according to customer needs. Due to poor handling and over process of garments Lycra damage is occurs.

Precautionary Steps:

A. At sewing: Most problems occur during bar tack stitch. To avoid Lycra damage, we must done Bar tack stitch after washing process. Bar tack stitch after washing reduce maximum amount of Lycra damage. Again, fiber breakage is occurs due to needle head. Gold or electro plated ball point needle must used, these needle easily slides in between the Lycra fibers thus avoid fiber breakage. Experts suggest ball point sewing needles to avoid Lycra deformation. Titaniaum Nitride coated-gold in color needles is advised as these needles with stand high temperature and heat from friction.

Titanium nitride coated Groz-Beckert needle
Figure 3: Titanium nitride coated Groz-Beckert needle

B. At washing: Temperature is an important parameter for Lycra damage. Rising temperature also hamper the fabric with Lycra damage. So, Temperature should be control during washing, drying. Excess chemical in washing may responsible for Lycra deformation.


  1. We must avoid break or damage or faulty Lycra / spandex yarn in denim weaving.
  2. Store rolls in one direction to avoid extra stress for its weight.
  3. Minimum pulling in spreading and keep fabric layer for minimum 90 minutes after spreading.
  4. Appropriate cutting blade brand “KM Strong H’’ to cut Lycra or spandex And use Thootha, Arrowroot on cut panel.
  5. For Lycra fabric / spandex fabric gold needles are recommended.
  6. Reduce needle heat from friction in many ways such as reducing speed of machine
  7. Use head resistant needle like Titanium nitride which is extremely hard, ceramic material, sharper and abrasion resistance free.
  8. Use pepper sharp knife in cutting.
  9. Avoid high tension/Tite bundles in store.
  10. No need to late for next stage.
  11. Use pepper allowance in garments making process.
  12. All process should be tension free.
  13. Can’t be dragged and Avoid damping.
  14. Follow step guide first and Use proper wash ratio.
  15. Using Lycra protector chemical which help to improve heat and wash resistant properties.

Lycra fiber / Spandex / Elastomer fiber is a widely used elastic fiber. It can grow up to 5 times its size. Spandex or Lycra is widely used in Denim Fabrics for its special properties. The main problem in Lycra used Denim fabric is Lycra Yarn breakage which destroys the beauty and durability and elastic properties of the fabric. Many reasons have been identified for this, including less sharp knives in Cutting and Mismanagement and Sewing needle problems and excessive temperature in washing which is one of the reasons for melting Lycra. It is possible to reduce this Spandex or Lycra fabric breakage by adopting different measures.

Image Courtesy:


  1. Denim Manufacture, Finishing and Applications by Roshan Paul.
  2. Lecture Sheets of Md. Zahid Murad Shuva Sir, Lecturer, SARSTEC.
  3. Islam, Rafiul & Sadek, Mohammad & Ahmed, Imon & Karim, Md & Rifat, Niaz. (2021). Root Cause Analysis & Corrective Action For Lycra Deformation Of Denim Fabric Having Different Composition.

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  1. What is Elastic Fabric | Pretreatment of Elastic Fabric
  2. Elastomeric Fibers: Types, Properties and Uses
  3. Spandex Fiber: Properties, Manufacturing Process and Uses

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