Sustainable Finishing Techniques in Textile Industry

Sustainable Textile Finishing Techniques

Pallavi Sunil Gudulkar
Department of Textiles (Textile Chemistry)
DKTE’S Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Intern at Textile Learner


Textile finishing determines a textile’s final appearance and aesthetic characteristics. It is also capable of altering numerous physical and chemical properties of textile materials in response to customer demands. Textile finishing is a final step to change the quality of fabric in terms of appearance, handle, and functionally through mechanical and chemical routes. Over the years, textile finishing has been modernized to the process by which textile materials convert into technical textiles. Undoubtedly, the future trend in textile finishing is to develop multifunctional textiles, which are highly efficient, durable, cost effective, and manufactured in an environmentally sustainable manner. The following are some of the sustainable finishing processes in the textile industry that are discussed in this article.

Sustainable Textile Finishing Techniques

1. Anti-microbial finish by natural ingredients:
Antimicrobial materials are widely used in surgical gowns, undergarments, and baby wear, among other applications. Traditional apparel and home fabrics are now being treated with antimicrobial finishes. Pathogens are killed or inhibited from growing, and their effects are controlled by antimicrobial agents. Cotton and other natural fibers are easily damaged by bacteria due to the presence of carbohydrates in the fibers. Antimicrobial-finished fabrics are used in a wide range of products, including athletic gear, footwear, medical textiles, furniture, automotive textiles, intimate apparel, and more. The presence of microbes in fabrics generates a foul odour and discoloration, as well as health issues. Microbial infections cause inflammation, allergies, and skin illnesses; hence clothing worn adjacent to the skin should have an antibacterial finish. Eco-friendly antimicrobial textiles based on natural antibacterial compounds are becoming increasingly popular. Many plants have chemicals that have antibacterial effect when applied, such as tannin, flavonoids, and terpenoids. They have the ability to function as both a bactericide (killing the microorganism) and a bacteriostat (preventing the microorganism from growing).

The following are some examples of natural antibacterial agents:

  • Papaya (Seed and Leaf)
  • Aloe Vera
  • Neem
  • Banana (Leaf and Peel)
  • Mango
  • Pomegranate
  • Sericin
  • Chitosan

Combinations of various sources:

  • Pomegranate + Onion
  • Neem + Aloe Vera
  • Tulsi + Turmeric + Neem
Antimicrobial finish using Chitosan
Figure 1: Antimicrobial finish using Chitosan

2. Plasma processing for finishing
Plasma treatment is a physicochemical method for surface modification that affects the surface both physically and chemically while retaining the bulk properties of the material unchanged. The following is the principle of plasma surface modification:

Depending on the plasma gas involved, the plasma atmosphere consists of free electrons, radicals, ions, atoms, molecules, and various excited particles. The chemical and physical modification of the material surface is caused by the interaction of these excited species with solid surfaces put in plasma reactors. The active species all react with the substrate surface, resulting in chemical functionality on the surface. Additionally, the generated reactive particles react directly with the surface of the treated substrates without affecting their bulk properties.

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Cold plasmas, also known as non-thermal plasmas, are widely employed in a variety of textile applications. Textiles are treated with cold plasma either under vacuum or at atmospheric pressure. Plasmas are unquestionably the most effective surface treatment techniques.

Plasma is distinguished by the following characteristics:

  • As plasma is used at a low temperature, it decreases the risk of fabric damage.
  • The ability to apply plasma over a wide range of thermal, physical, and chemical temperatures allows for fine tailoring of fabric surface treatments.
  • Plasma is an environmentally friendly choice due to its dry treatment techniques.

Plasma treatment offers a myriad of textile finishes like Hydrophilic, oleophilic, hydrophobic, felting of wool, self-cleaning, flame retardant finish.

Hydrophobic finish using plasma technology
Figure 2: Hydrophobic finish using plasma technology

3. Implementation of nanotechnology:
In the dyeing and finishing industry, nanotechnology is one of the most sustainable technologies. Textile fibers with diameters ranging from 1 to 100nm are used in this technology. Nanotechnology has already shown to improve the surface area of individual fibers when used in textiles. The sustainable implementation of nanotechnology in the textile industry can reduce the usage of harmful and toxic chemicals which damage the environment.

Figure 3: Nanotechnology

Following finishes can be obtained by implementation of nanotechnology:

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Characteristics of Nano finishing:

  1. Nano-processed clothing has a water and beverage repelling protective covering.
  2. Their protective layer is difficult to detect with the naked eye.
  3. The structure of processed clothing becomes more compressed when a substance is altered at sizes of around 100 nm. Clothing becomes stain- and dirt-resistant as a result of this.
  4. Saves time and cost on laundry.
  5. Environmentally friendly properties are embraced by technology.
  6. Nanomaterials enable for good ventilation and moisture absorption, resulting in increased breathability while preserving the good hand feel of traditional materials.
  7. The crease-resistant feature helps to keep your clothes looking neat.
  8. These Nano-processed items are free of toxins.
  9. Garments are more durable than typical materials and stay bright and fresh looking.
  10. Manufacturing costs are minimal, resulting in higher product value.
Figure 4: Nanofinishing

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Table: Nanomaterials uses according to their properties

Nanomaterials uses according to their properties

4. Ultrasound based finishing:

Sono-finishing process:
The procedure uses zinc oxide nanoparticles as an active medium and is based on the physical phenomenon of acoustic cavitation, which occurs when a solution containing nanoparticles is exposed to ultrasound, causing small bubbles to form in the solution, which then expand and collapse in a couple of seconds. This results in high-energy microstreaming patterns that travel at a rate of roughly 500 metres per second. These transport the particles and firmly embed them in the textiles.


  • Maximum process dependability, productivity, sustainability, ease of maintenance, and cost effectiveness are all possible with this revolutionary solution.
  • The innovative process, when compared to traditional textile equipment, not only provides longer-lasting antibacterial characteristics and is more environmentally friendly, but it also saves money.
  • It can be used for finishing both woven and knitted fabrics, as well as nonwovens and carpeting.
  • Protection against Corona Virus.

Ultrasound Technology for chemical and mechanical finish

Ultrasound Technology for chemical and mechanical finish
Figure 5: Ultrasound Technology for chemical and mechanical finish

5. Bioprocessing using enzymes
Enzymes are a sustainable alternative to harsh chemicals in industry, reducing energy and water consumption as well as the production of chemical waste during manufacturing processes and other surface treatments.

Bio-polishing is a biological procedure that involves the action of cellulase on the fabric’s surface. It is an important sustainable textile finishing technique. They quickly break away from the surface after that, leaving it much smoother than before. The smoothing effect provides a number of advantages. The fiber will have a lower tendency for producing pills and, as a result, will have a cleaner surface structure with less fuzz. Due to abrasion or friction from fiber to fiber or fiber to metal, biopolishing and fading or biopolishing and wash down degraded the cellulose, resulting in the elimination of cellulose first and subsequently surface bleeding. Biopolishing is a fabric finishing procedure that increases the quality of the cloth. The goal of the method is to eliminate cotton microfibrils using cellulase. Aside from the wash down effect, biopolishing gives the clothing a cleaner appearance.

The following are the primary features given to the fabric after the biopolishing treatment:

  • A cleaner surface is obtained, providing a cooler feel;
  • Lustre is obtained as a side effect;
  • Fabric becomes softer;
  • Fabric tends to pill ends.
Effect of Biopolishing
Figure 6: Effect of Biopolishing

Degumming of silk:
It is required to remove the gum from the raw fabric in order to make the silk fabric soft and lustrous, as well as extremely absorbent for dyes and chemicals, and to reveal the sheen of fibroin and improve the appearance of the fiber. Degumming is the process of removing silk gum. Enzymes can be employed instead of soaps in this process, resulting in a shorter treatment period and less fiber damage. Because of its gentle action on the fibers, enzymatic degumming has shown to be a superior method for producing uniformly degummed silk with a soft handle. A ceresin-specific protein was utilised in the enzymatic process to degum the silk without causing harm, give suppleness, and improve dye uptake. If the alkaline treatment degummed silk, fibroin was damaged, and there was a lot of weight loss. When compared to soap, degumming silk with a proteolytic enzyme results in more gum removal. The amount of improvement in dye uptake is determined by enzyme concentrations, as well as the length, pH, and temperature of the enzyme treatment. The better the dye uptake, the greater the enzyme concentration and the correct pH treatment. The enzyme treatment has no effect on the enzyme degummed silk fabric’s washing, rubbing, pressing, or light fastness qualities.

Degumming process of silk
Figure 7: Degumming process of silk

6. Sustainable UV technology
UV radiation at low levels kills viruses and other disease-causing germs, which is why it’s employed in the sterilisation process. When humans are exposed to increasing levels of UV radiation, the skin layer develops wrinkles, skin damage, blisters, and ageing. This is why researchers have become interested in UV protective apparel, and it has also become necessity of customers. UV protective finishing is used in textiles to avoid the detrimental effects of UV light. Several natural substances taken from mulberry, grapes, chitosan, Tulsa, aloe Vera, honey, almonds, and other sources are used in UV-resistant fabrics to promote sun protection and improve resistance to UV rays in a sustainable way.

Textile finishing process using natural products is economical, sustainable, have control over environmental and health hazard. Sustainable textile finishing techniques are helpful to save energy as well as auxiliaries. So in short we should adopt sustainability for better future.


  1. Sustainability in the Textile and Apparel Industries: Sustainable Textiles, Clothing Design and Repurposing by Subramanian Senthilkannan Muthu, Miguel Angel Gardetti
  2. Sustainable Technologies for Fashion and Textiles Edited by Rajkishore Nayak
  3. New finishing technology assures longer protection from viruses – Sustainable Textiles (

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