What’s tissue bleaching?

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Fabric bleaching removes additives from natural fabrics, making them softer and easier to dye. Synthetic materials are treated with reductive bleach, while natural fabrics are bleached with oxidative bleach. Optical brighteners are added to enhance the white color and make the material easier to dye. Bleaching also makes the fabric more comfortable to wear.

Fabric bleaching is the act of taking greige, or natural fabrics, before they are processed and applying oxidative or reductive bleach to the material. This is done for several reasons, such as removing pesticides and fungicides and making the fabric softer. Depending on whether the fabric is synthetic or natural, one of two types of bleach is added to the material. After bleaching the fabrics, optical brighteners are added to enhance the white color and to make the material easier to dye. Degreasing is done beforehand to remove some of the textile additives and to make the fabric absorbent.

When a fabric is grown or crafted, it encounters many add-ons that make the fabric easier to build or keep bugs or fungi from ruining the material. Some of these additives are fungicides, pesticides, lubricants and worm killers. While these add-ons are considered necessary during the growing or crafting stage, they tend to be poisonous and can be harmful to consumers. While it removes the poison, bleaching fabrics also makes the fabric white, rather than the natural brown color of most fabrics, and easier to dye.

If a fabric is natural, such as cotton or wool, it is bleached with oxidative bleach. This strips the fabric of additives and destroys chromophores, the molecular elements that add color to the fabric. Oxidative bleach pushes oxygen into the fabric to accomplish this task.

Synthetic materials, such as polyacetate and polyacrylic, are treated with reductive bleach. In this textile bleaching method, the reductive bleach reduces the amount of oxygen in the fabric. While the opposite of oxidative bleaching, reductive bleach does the same job.

Cleaning the fiber and destroying the natural color are not the only reasons for bleaching fabrics. Another reason is that greige material is hard and generally considered difficult to work with and wear. By bleaching the fabric, it breaks up the greige, making it softer and more comfortable.

In tissue processing, tissue bleaching is the second stage of the procedure. Before bleaching, scouring occurs, in which wetting agents remove some of the additives; this is mainly done to make the fabric water absorbent. After bleaching, optical brighteners are added to the material. Just like bleach, this makes the fabric whiter, but this step is just about stripping any color out of the natural fiber so it can either be sold as white fabric or go through the dyeing process.

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