Large amounts of chemicals in the production of textiles


Textile manufacturing results in chemical emissions that harm both humans and the environment in countries where the working environment and chemical regulations are often inadequate and where the majority of the world’s textiles are produced and exported.

Many of the textile products you can buy in stores or online are manufactured in other countries. The amount of chemicals used in the manufacture of textiles and the lack of adequate regulations in the countries where the majority of textile articles are produced makes the textile industry one of the most polluting industries in the world today.

Chemical substances are used in all the manufacturing steps needed to produce textiles and to give textiles a certain function or appearance. Chemicals are used in, for example, the following manufacturing steps:

  • When growing cotton, chemical pesticides and fertilisers are used.
  • In the manufacture of synthetic textile materials. In manufacturing that uses crude oil as a raw material. After several steps of chemical and physical processing, the synthetic textile is finally created.
  • Spinning and weaving use several different process chemicals.
  • Various chemicals are also used to give textiles special properties or appearances, such as water and dirt repellent properties, antibacterial properties, colours or prints.

A large portion of the process chemicals and auxiliary chemicals used during production are washed out or evaporate during the production process. But chemicals used to give textiles special properties or appearances, the so-called functional chemicals, usually remain in the finished article.

Last published 13 October 2021