50 shades of white- on phenolic yellowing and other textile saboteurs
If white is a colour, it has about fifty different shades. Some are perfect for vintage lampshades, others do well in soothing wallpapers. But when you ask high-end fashion brands, there is just the one shade: bright, eyes-hurting, squeaky clean white. This preference is particularly reflected in luxurious lingerie departments, where bras, panties, and underwear are white as snow. Although the white factor of these garments may seem mundane to customers, you know all about the struggles behind the scenes. Keeping textiles white is a challenge, as there are so many quality saboteurs such as phenolic yellowing that meddle with their colour tone. But there is hope. In this blog post, I tell you how to minimise textile yellowing and optimise the brightness of your products.
1. Avoid plastics containing BHT
Many packaging materials contain BHT; an anti-oxidant that causes phenolic yellowing when it reacts with NOx gases in the air. Phenolic yellowing causes a yellow haze that sticks to the fabric, making it look sallow. This form of yellowing is reversible, but I would recommend not to let it get to that point. Make sure your packaging materials are free from BHT and perform tests regularly. In case you do not have a say in the packaging matter, try to work out a solution with the ones that do. After all, it is you who will be held responsible for the end-product.
2. Reduce the amount of nitrous oxide in storage rooms
Your products will be exposed to many external influences you cannot control. Think about motor heat and the truck’s exhaust during transportation. Furthermore, chances are your products will be stored before they are shipped and distributed. Many storage rooms contain a high amount of nitrous oxide, that tend to meddle with the hue of the fabric. Do you have a strong relationship with other chain parties? Brief them on the dangers of nitrous oxides and find a way to reduce them to a minimum!
At the bottom of this page, you can find a more detailed guide on textile yellowing and ways to overcome it.
3. Create an anti-yellowing cocktail
Whether you control the distribution process or not, I recommend you to prepare your textiles against all external influences. Yellowing saboteurs are everywhere: during the production process, through heat setting, on the road to your customers, in storage rooms, in shops, and long after your products have reached the end-user. So, instead of trying to control every single step of the production chain; make sure your products are armed against every single yellowing factor. The solution lies in an anti-yellowing cocktail of chemicals that do just that.
4. Test until you drop!
There is no basic recipe that is going to solve all of your yellowing-related problems. This is why you should carefully test all of your fabrics and create a tailor-made solution. Consider every factor that may change the shade of your white textiles: what does the production process look like, does the fabric need to be moulded, as is the case with bras? Do you work with lace, cotton, polyamide or a combination? Will your textiles be taken out of their packaging material in the store, yes or no? All of this information is essential when developing your anti-yellowing solution, which can make or break your output.
One last thing…
I hope this article will help you in the fight against the yellowing of your textiles. As you can see, the yellowing issue comes in many different forms, meaning you need a multiple action plan to win it. And you may have come to the end of this article; there is much more to learn on textile yellowing and ways to overcome it. Download our free white paper below, and find out what it takes to get to bright, eyes-hurting, and squeaky clean white textiles. Visit our Extreme Whiteness concept to learn more about the possibilities!