Linen, Without the Wrinkles

Headshot of Preeti Arya, wearing glasses, a striped top and earrings
Preeti Arya.

Linen has long bedeviled designers: The durable, renewable, and sustainable fabric is extremely prone to wrinkling, particularly in the humid weather in which linen apparel feels most comfortable. Previous anti-wrinkle treatments for linen have been found to release formaldehyde—a known carcinogen.

Preeti Arya, assistant professor of Textile Development and Marketing, has a possible solution in the form of an acid-based treatment that makes linen much less finicky. Arya describes the process in a paper she co-authored, “Non-Formaldehyde Wrinkle Resistant Finish for Linen,” published in the Journal of Natural Fibers in October.

Arya and her collaborator tested a number of finishes for linen, and found that treating the fabric for 40 minutes with a 6% concentration at an acidic pH of 4 was found to produce the best results, significantly reducing wrinkles without changing the properties of the fabric.

As a side effect, they found that treating with anti-wrinkle acids made the fabric stronger—something useful for designing clothing.

It’s a triple win: a textile finish that is “environment-friendly, people friendly, and planet friendly.”

Additionally, Arya spoke on a panel titled “The Future of Textiles and Sustainability” at Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science, a virtual conference in January put on by Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

She also spoke at the Sustainable Fashion & Beauty Conference, held virtually in October 2021.


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