Stain Resistant Linens – Nanotechnology in the Textile Industry

Nanotechnology is providing a new method for treating fabrics for stain resistance, a technology with the potential to transform the textile industry. Stain resistant linens may never be the same.

For centuries, textile manufacturers and innovators responded to consumer demand for a stain-resistant fabric by applying protective coatings to fabrics. In the 18th century, oilcloth was created by coating linen with a mixture of paint pigment and linseed oil. First used as an inexpensive roof covering, oilcloths found their way into kitchens around the world in the 1950s.

During the same period, a spray-on stain resistant was introduced as a way for consumers to apply a protective coating to fabric, furniture and carpets. However, the chemicals in the product have caused concern among health experts, even after the product was reformulated in 2003. Additionally, the stain-resistant effect of a spray-on product wears off quickly, making them an impractical solution.

Acrylic top coating became the next trend, providing a reasonably effective barrier on one side of the fabric, while still allowing the fabric to be washed. The problem with acrylic coatings, however, is finding the right balance between protection and durability. To little, and the coating quickly erodes, too much, and the coating becomes brittle.

Instead of coating the surface of the fabric, a new method uses nanotechnology to build spill resistance into each individual fiber of the fabric. Molecules are designed with specific characteristics that enable them to attach and bind a stain resistant coating to fibers without affecting the natural weave of the fabric. The coating matrix ensures that the nanoparticles cannot drift apart. Clariant International laboratories developed the new technology, which is being used for numerous applications. Just as with the oilcloth of the Fifties, the new spill proof fabric is finding its way into the household linens industry.

Garnier Thiebaut, a leading designer and manufacturer of luxury linens for both the home and the hospitality industry, is the first company to use this particular nanotechnology, garnering an exclusive license from Clariant International. With two advanced production facilities that manage the entire process of producing fine fabrics, the company is uniquely suited to accommodate the new stain resistant linens technology.

The eco-friendly and PVC-free coating is available on table cloths, runners and napkins in select Garnier Thiebaut lines, including their “Green Sweet” line of stain resistant tablecloths and linens. Introduced in their Spring/Summer 2011 collection, the line has been expanded for their 2011-2012 Fall/Winter collection, with many more items available that are treated with the breakthrough nanotechnology process.

The “Green Sweet” stain resistant tablecloth features a double twisted thread jacquard weave, and feels and looks like fine damask. Liquids, including wine spills and oily stains, simply bead up on the surface of the fabric, and can easily be sponged clean. The linens are machine washable and dryable, and the fabric will still retain its luster and softness.