Chemical finishing of textiles

Chemical finishing of textiles refers to the process of applying and treating textiles with a variety of chemicals in order to achieve desired functional and aesthetic properties. Chemical finishing of textiles is a part of the textile finishing process where the emphasis is on chemical substances instead of mechanical finishing.[1][2] Chemical finishing in textiles also known as wet finishing.[3] Chemical finishing adds properties to the treated textiles. Softening of textiles, durable water repellancy and wrinkle free fabric finishes are examples of chemical finishing.[1][2][4]

A shiny spherical drop of water on blue cloth
Fluorine-containing durable water repellent makes a fabric water-resistant.


Textile finishing is the process of converting the loom state or raw goods into a useful product, which can be done mechanically or chemically. Finishing is a broad term that refers to a variety of physical and chemical techniques and treatments that finish one stage of textile production while also preparing for the next. Textile finishing can include aspects like improving surface feel, aesthetic enhancement, and adding advanced chemical finishes.[5] A finish is any process that transforms unfinished products into finished products.[6] This includes mechanical finishing and chemical applications which alter the composition of treated textiles (fiber, yarn or fabric.)

Mechanical finishesEdit

Mechanical finish refers to machine finishes such as embossing, heat setting, Sanforizing, shearing, luster imparting, surface finishes, and glaze finishes.[7][8]

Mechanical finishes[8]
Raised surface finishes Luster imparting Glaze and design
Gigging Calendering Embossing
Napping Beetling Moire

Chemical finishesEdit

Chemical finishes are chemicals that may alter the properties of the treated fabrics.[1] Finishes may vary from aesthetic to special purposes.[2] Examples of chemical finishes are:


Finishing makes the textiles attractive and more useful.[12] The finishing process adds essential properties to the treated textiles and enhances the serviceability of the products.

Serviceability in textiles includes aesthetics, comfort, durability, care and protection attributes.[13]: 21 

Performance chemical finishesEdit

"Special purpose finishes" or ''performance finishes'' improve the performance of textiles for a specific end-use.[14]: 301  Performance finishes are not a new concept; oilcloth is the first known coated fabric. Boiled linseed oil is used to make oilcloth. Boiled oils have been used from the year 200 AD.[15] Performance finishing contributes to a variety of areas. The following are some examples of special-purpose finishes:

  • Flame retardant finishes based on inorganic, organophosphorus, halogenated organic and nitrogen-based compounds make the treated fabric fire retarding; i.e., the fabric inhibits or suppresses the combustion process to improve safety.[16][17]
  • Durable water repellent finishes provide water repellancy to the treated fabrics.[18]
  • Wrinkle-resistant fabrics are treated fabrics with wrinkle-free finishes.[19]
  • In manufacturing of pristine clothes.[20]
  • Self cleaning fabrics with lotus effect.[21]
  • Medical textiles are endowed with protecting properties such as body fluid resistance and an antimicrobial surface for use in personal protective equipment including aprons, coverall and gowns for healthcare workers treating infectious diseases such as COVID-19.[22][23][24]
  • Coated fabrics are used for transportation, industrial application, geotextile, and military use.[25]


Chemical finishes can be applied in three different ways: exhaust applications, coating, and padding.


Exhaust application is carried out by immersion the substrate in the chemical solution.[26]


In padding applications, the material comes in contact with chemicals on a padding mangle. The material is then dried or cured using a stenter.[27]


The coating is an application of chemical substances on the surface of fabric that is to be made functional or decorative.[28] Coating is attained by applying a thin layer of a functional chemical, compound, or polymer on the substrate's surface. Coatings use less material than other types of applications, such as exhaust or padding.[29]


Advances in chemical finishes include application of nanomaterials.[30]

Chemical hazardsEdit

Certain chemical finishes contain potential hazards to health and the environment. Perfluorinated acids are considered to be hazardous to human health by the US Environmental Protection Agency.[31]

Name of the substance Advantage in textile products Associated health risks and environmental impacts References
Perfluorooctanoic acid ( PFOA), Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) Hydrophobic effect Endocrine disruptor [32][33]
Fluorocarbon (PFC) Hydrophobic effect May cause respiratory illness [34]
Bromine Brominated flame retardant Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances may cause neurobehavioral disorders and endocrine disruption [35]
Silver, silver nanoparticle Antimicrobial resistance Environmental impact of silver nanoparticles and toxic effects on human health [36][37]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Schindler, W. D.; Hauser, P. J. (2004-08-10). Chemical Finishing of Textiles. Elsevier. pp. 1–20. ISBN 978-1-84569-037-3.
  2. ^ a b c Kadolph, Sara J. (1998). Textiles. Internet Archive. Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Merrill. pp. 285, 300–316. ISBN 978-0-13-494592-7.
  3. ^ "Chemical Finishing - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics". Retrieved 2021-07-25.
  4. ^ a b Roy Choudhury, Asim Kumar (2017-01-01). "Softening". Principles of Textile Finishing. Woodhead Publishing. pp. 109–148. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-100646-7.00006-0. ISBN 978-0-08-100646-7.
  5. ^ Choudhury, Asim Kumar Roy (2017-04-29). Principles of Textile Finishing. Woodhead Publishing. pp. 1–10. ISBN 978-0-08-100661-0.
  6. ^ Hollen, Norma R.; Hollen, Norma R. Textiles (1988). Textiles. Internet Archive. New York : Macmillan. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-02-367530-0.
  7. ^ Schindler, W. D.; Hauser, P. J. (2004-08-10). Chemical Finishing of Textiles. Elsevier. pp. 1, 2. ISBN 978-1-84569-037-3.
  8. ^ a b Joseph, Marjory L. (1992). Joseph's introductory textile science. Internet Archive. Fort Worth : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers. pp. 337, 338, 339, 340. ISBN 978-0-03-050723-6.
  9. ^ Nystrom, Paul Henry (1916). Textiles. D. Appleton. p. 228.
  10. ^ Tortora, Phyllis G.; Johnson, Ingrid (2013-09-17). The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles. A&C Black. p. 465. ISBN 978-1-60901-535-0.
  11. ^ Kolanjikombil, Mathews (2019). Pretreatment of Textile Substrates. Woodhead Publishing India. pp. 116, 117. ISBN 978-93-85059-99-5.
  12. ^ Agricultural Leaders' Digest. American Agricultural Services. 1940. p. 32.
  13. ^ Kadolph, Sara J. (1998). Textiles. Internet Archive. Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Merrill. ISBN 978-0-13-494592-7.
  14. ^ Kadolph, Sara J. (1998). Textiles. Internet Archive. Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Merrill. ISBN 978-0-13-494592-7.
  15. ^ "MoreInfo-Staining and Finishing for Muzzeloading Gun Builders - Methods and Materials 1750-1850". 2013-05-30. Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2021-08-08.
  16. ^ Lacasse, K. (Katia); Baumann, W. (Werner) (2004). Textile chemicals [electronic resource] : environmental data and facts. Berlin ; New York : Springer. pp. 425, 426. ISBN 978-3-642-18898-5.
  17. ^ handbook_of_technical_textile_. pp. 164–167.
  18. ^ Williams, John T. (2017-11-21). Waterproof and Water Repellent Textiles and Clothing. Woodhead Publishing. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-08-101134-8.
  19. ^ "Creating 'greener' wrinkle-resistant cotton fabric". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 2021-07-24.
  20. ^ "Lasers help create water-repelling, light-absorbing, self-cleaning metals". New Atlas. 2015-01-21. Retrieved 2021-08-08.
  21. ^ "Lotus Effect - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics". Retrieved 2021-08-08.
  22. ^ Karim1, Nazmul1; Afroj, Shaila; Lloyd, Kate; Oaten, Laura Clarke; Andreeva, Daria V.; Carr, Chris; Farmery, Andrew D.; Kim, Il-Doo; Novoselov, Kostya S. (2020). "Sustainable Personal Protective Clothing for Healthcare Applications: A Review". ACS Nano. 14 (10): 12313–12340. doi:10.1021/acsnano.0c05537. ISSN 1936-0851. PMC 7518242. PMID 32866368.
  23. ^ Dehghani, Mohammad Hadi; Karri, Rama; Roy, Sharmili (2021-06-26). Environmental and Health Management of Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Academic Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-323-90924-2.
  24. ^ Galante, Anthony J.; Haghanifar, Sajad; Romanowski, Eric G.; Shanks, Robert M. Q.; Leu, Paul W. (2020-05-13). "Superhemophobic and Antivirofouling Coating for Mechanically Durable and Wash-Stable Medical Textiles". ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. 12 (19): 22120–22128. doi:10.1021/acsami.9b23058. ISSN 1944-8244. PMID 32320200. S2CID 216084757.
  25. ^ Fung, W. (2002-05-23). Coated and Laminated Textiles. Woodhead Publishing. pp. 9, 247. ISBN 978-1-85573-576-7.
  26. ^ "Exhaust Method - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics". Retrieved 2021-08-09.
  27. ^ "Padding Mangle - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics". Retrieved 2021-08-09.
  28. ^ "Surface coating | chemistry". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-08-08.
  29. ^ "Using Liquid Finishes to Create Nanofabrics". Retrieved 2021-08-08.
  30. ^ Shahid, Mohammad; Adivarekar, Ravindra (2020-06-10). Advances in Functional Finishing of Textiles. Springer Nature. p. 43. ISBN 978-981-15-3669-4.
  31. ^ US EPA, OCSPP (2015-04-29). "Chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)". Retrieved 2021-07-24.
  32. ^ Betts, Kellyn S. (2007). "PERFLUOROALKYL ACIDS: What Is the Evidence Telling Us?". Environmental Health Perspectives. 115 (5): A250–A256. doi:10.1289/ehp.115-a250. ISSN 0091-6765. PMC 1867999. PMID 17520044.
  33. ^ "Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA): 1. What is PFOA and what is it used for?". Archived from the original on 2021-07-09. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  34. ^ Hays, Hannah L.; Mathew, Dana; Chapman, Jennifer (2021), "Fluorides and Fluorocarbons Toxicity", StatPearls, Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, PMID 28613550, archived from the original on 2021-08-11, retrieved 2021-07-01
  35. ^ "Brominated Flame retardants in the Environment" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-07-09. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  36. ^ Ermini, Maria Laura; Voliani, Valerio (2021-04-27). "Antimicrobial Nano-Agents: The Copper Age". ACS Nano. 15 (4): 6008–6029. doi:10.1021/acsnano.0c10756. ISSN 1936-0851. PMC 8155324. PMID 33792292.
  37. ^ AshaRani, P. V.; Low Kah Mun, Grace; Hande, Manoor Prakash; Valiyaveettil, Suresh (2009-02-24). "Cytotoxicity and Genotoxicity of Silver Nanoparticles in Human Cells". ACS Nano. 3 (2): 279–290. doi:10.1021/nn800596w. ISSN 1936-0851. PMID 19236062.