April 28, 2023

PFAS-Free Fabrics in Functional Gear: What to Look for and Why It Matters

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals often used in waterproof and stain-resistant textiles. However, the growing concern of PFAS’ negative human health and environmental impacts have prompted the industry to seek alternative solutions. Their use is now regulated in different parts of the world.

PFAS-Free fabric innovation and research is an ever-evolving field that shapes the future of textiles. PFAS-Free fabrics offer a more sustainable and safer alternative to traditional fabrics that use PFAS substances. As the apparel industry moves toward more responsible practices, the demand for PFAS-Free fabrics has grown. This article explores the importance of PFAS-Free fabrics in apparel and outdoor gear and what consumers should look for when making their choices.

The Concern with PFAS

PFAS are commonly used in the apparel and outdoor industries due to their ability to repel water, oil, and stains. However, they pose significant environmental concerns:

  1. Persistence: PFASs are highly persistent in the environment, meaning they do not break down easily. This persistence leads to bioaccumulation, where these chemicals build up in plants and animals' tissues, potentially harming ecosystems.
  2. Toxicity: Studies have shown that some PFAS are toxic to both humans and wildlife. They have been linked to a variety of health issues, including hormone disruption, liver damage, and developmental problems.

PFAS-Free Fabrics: Alternatives for Responsible Gear

In response to the growing awareness of PFAS' environmental impact, chemical and textile manufacturers have begun developing PFAS-Free options. These alternatives offer the same high-performance qualities without the harmful effects of PFAS. When shopping for functional gear, consumers should consider the following factors:

  1. Water Repellency: One of the main reasons PFAS are used is for their exceptional water repellency. Look for PFAS-Free fabrics that offer effective water resistance through alternative treatments, such as wax coatings or hydrophobic polymers.
  2. Breathability: A crucial aspect of functional gear is its ability to allow moisture and heat to escape, ensuring the wearer remains comfortable during physical activities. PFAS-Free fabrics should provide adequate breathability to prevent overheating and sweating.
  3. Durability: Seek out PFAS-Free fabrics that can withstand the rigors of physical activities without sacrificing performance or longevity.

PFAS-Free Chemical Options Available at Winnitex

Currently, Winnitex has developed collections that utilize PFAS-Free chemicals with some of the leading suppliers in the industry. Among these technologies are: 

  1. NanoTex® Aquapel: By permanently attaching hydrophobic 'whiskers' to individual fibers, the fabric is modified at the molecular level, causing liquids to bead and roll right off. This technology allows for a water-repellent finish, while still maintaining breathability and performance. 
  2. Teflon® EcoElite™: A renewably sourced, non-fluorinated fabric treatment that provides durable water repellency. 
  3. Huntsman Phobotex®: Delivering an alternative solution for water repellency, displays excellent rainproof finishing that prevents water-based stains from penetrating substrates. 
  4. Archroma Smartrepel®: Keeps cotton, polyester and polyamide textiles dry, offering durable water repellency (DWR) while maintaining soft handfeel and breathability. 

To inquire about PFAS-Free fabric options, contact our sales team. We would be happy to support you in your collection development. 

The shift towards PFAS-Free fabrics in all apparel is essential to reducing the industry's environmental impact. By understanding the significance of PFAS-free alternatives and knowing what to look for in functional gear, consumers can make informed choices that benefit both their personal needs and the planet. As the demand for sustainable products continues to rise, manufacturers like Winnitex play a crucial role in developing innovative, responsible solutions for the apparel industry.

Winnitex's Editorial Team

Our Latest Updates Straight to Your Inbox

Receive updates on Winnitex's R&D projects, tradeshows, and company news.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.