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Herbal Textile- The Eco Friendly Fabrics

Submitted by : By TE Online on November 28, 2008 6:15 AM

herbs.jpgEnvironmental friendly fibers such as organic cotton and recycled polyester have become popular among the fabrics and apparel manufacturers. However, after these fabrics or the finished garments are manufactured, they have to be dyed in the same chemical dyes that are so harmful to the environment. Vegetable dyes, as an alternative are used sometimes, but in this type of dyeing too, certain chemicals such as copper sulphate and ferrous sulphate are used as catalysts. Thus, with much research on individual and industrial levels, the concept of herbal textile came into being. 


The Concept of Herbal Textile

Herbal Textile is dyed entirely with herbal extractions, without using any sort of chemicals. The herbs used are different from vegetable dyes as they are not only natural but also have medicinal value. These herbs are applied directly to the fabric with the help of natural ingredients, so that the medicinal value of the herbs can be kept intact. No chemical process is adopted while dyeing. Even bleaching of cloth is done naturally by exposing it to sunlight. The herbs also do not pollute the environment through contamination of water resources in areas close to processing units. All kinds of shades of red, yellow, brown, orange and green etc. can be prepared with the help of these herbs.

The Healing Effects of Herbal Textile

herbal_shawls1.jpgAs we now know that herbal textile is dyed with herbs having medicinal property, it is but natural that the end products made through it will definitely have some or the other health benefits. Herbal Textile can, in fact, fight diseases like hypertension, heart ailments, asthma and diabetes depending upon the herb used to make the dyes. Some of the examples will help to understand these healing effects of herbal textile.


  • Indigo: This herbal dye helps fight skin disease.
  • Cuscus Grass: It helps fight asthma.
  • Turmeric: It can cure pain and is also beneficial for enhancing skin qualities.
  • Sandalwood: Its mild fragrance has a soothing effect that helps in fighting stress.

Some of the other herbal dyes are catechu, pomegranate rind, madder, castor oil, sweet basil, lime, wild turmeric, henna, curry leaf tree, aloe, certain herbal fruits, etc. each having its own healing effects.

Herbal textile are mostly used in making bed coverings, undergarments, and other such garments that stay close to human skin so that all its benefits could be absorbed through the skin.

Other Benefits of Herbal Textile

herb_garment1.jpgNot only the herbal textiles are eco-friendly but they give away certain residues that can be further used for making other environmental friendly products.
  • The solid as well as liquid wastes from herbal dyeing process can be recycled to be used as manure in fields.

  • Some of the environment conscious industries engaged in producing herbal textiles, make organically recycled textile paper bags by stitching the leftover organic and herbal dyed fabrics which can counter the growing menace of plastic bag pollution.

  • It also promotes cultivation of herbs required for the dyeing process of herbal textiles.

Herbal Dyes- Production and Consumption

Herbal textiles can be priced more competitively than the conventional fabrics due to its low production cost. If a comparison is made, a plain chemical dye costs around $ 75 per kg while a herbal dye costs approx. $ 5 a kg.

Most of the herbs used in dyeing of herbal textile are cultivated in South East Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, India being the leading producer. The Handloom Weavers Development Society (HLWDS) of Kerala, India has exported herbal and organic textile worth Rs.50 Lakh to US, Europe and Japan. The herbal textile is becoming so popular that the Japanese Government has given HLWDS a grant of $40,218.

Wholesale Supply of herbal textiles is done into international markets of USA, Canada, France, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Maldives, Mauritius, Japan and Sri Lanka.

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