The Ultimate Guide to Dacron: The Synthetic Fabric that won’t go away soon

Dacron_Fabric

Have you ever heard of Dacron? It’s the brand name for a type of synthetic fabric called polyethene terephthalate (PET). But don’t let the snappy name fool you. It’s a popular synthetic fabric with a long history dating back to the early 20th century.

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The History of Dacron

In 1941, a team of scientists at DuPont, led by Julian W. Hill, succeeded in developing a new synthetic polymer called polyethene terephthalate (PET). This polymer was initially used to make a variety of products such as film and fibres. 

In the 1950s, DuPont began to market PET fibres under the brand name Dacron. The company promoted Dacron as a durable, lightweight fabric ideal for various applications. The manufacturer also emphasised the fabric’s resistance to shrinking, wrinkling, and fading, making it a popular choice for clothing, upholstery, and industrial textiles. Dacron quickly became popular in the clothing industry, particularly in the production of men’s suits and women’s dresses.

Properties of Dacron

One of the best things about Dacron is that it doesn’t stretch out easily. As a result, this makes it great for sportswear and outdoor clothing and works well for things like rope, webbing, and sailcloth. 

It doesn’t shrink or wrinkle easily, so it’ll keep its shape and colour longer, and it’s got moisture-wicking properties which means it’ll keep you dry and dries quickly. Bonus! 

It’s great for clothes and outdoor gear and also resistant to mildew and bacteria, making it perfect for things like tents, camping equipment, and medical and industrial textiles.

How is Dacron made?

So, you’re probably wondering how Dacron is made. It’s actually pretty simple. Well, in theory, as I doubt, I’ll be brewing a pot of polymers that we can eventually spin into yarn in my spare bedroom any time soon. 

That said, let’s take a look at the process. First, scientists mix ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid in a process called polymerisation. This process creates a polymer, which is then extruded into fibres. These fibres are then spun into yarns.

Finally, the yarns are woven or knitted into fabrics. This process is called spinning. And voila! You’ve got yourself some Dacron fabric.

It’s important to note that the production process of Dacron can be energy-intensive and have a negative impact on the environment. Additionally, Dacron is not biodegradable and contributes to pollution when disposed of.

Common uses of Dacron Fabric

Dacron_Sportswear

Dacron fabric is commonly used in various applications, including clothing, upholstery, and industrial textiles. Below is a list of the most common uses of Dacron Polyester

  1. Clothing: Dacron is a popular choice for sportswear and outdoor clothing due to its strength and resistance to stretching. Its quick-drying properties make it a good choice for swimwear and activewear. Additionally, its resistance to mildew and bacteria makes it a good choice for camping gear and other outdoor equipment.
  2. Upholstery: Dacron’s resistance to shrinking, wrinkling, and fading makes it an ideal choice for furniture upholstery, as it can maintain its shape and colour over time. This makes it a popular choice for both residential and commercial furniture.
  3. Industrial Textiles: Dacron’s strength and resistance to stretching make it an excellent choice for industrial textiles such as rope, webbing, and sailcloth. Additionally, its resistance to mildew and bacteria makes it a good choice for medical and industrial textiles, such as surgical gowns and filters.
  4. Home Textiles: Dacron is also used in home textiles such as curtains, bedspreads and sheets due to its resistance to shrinking, wrinkling and fading, which makes it a practical choice for households.
  5. Outdoor gear: Dacron’s resistance to mildew and bacteria makes it a good choice for outdoor gear, such as tents, camping equipment, and furniture cushions.
  6. Automotive: Dacron is also used in automotive applications such as seat covers, carpets, and headliners due to its strength, resistance to shrinking, wrinkling, and fading and its ability to maintain its shape and colour over time.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability

Unfortunately, Dacron isn’t the most environmentally friendly fabric out there. It’s made from petroleum, which isn’t a renewable resource, and the production process can harm the environment. And, since it’s not biodegradable, it can contribute to pollution when it’s disposed of. 

Production

Creating the polymer that makes up Dacron fabric is energy-intensive and can release pollutants into the air and water. Additionally, Dacron is made from petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource.

Disposal

Since Dacron is not biodegradable, it can contribute to pollution when disposed of. When Dacron fabric is thrown away, it can take hundreds of years to break down, releasing harmful chemicals into the environment.

More Sustainable Alternatives

While Dacron fabric has many benefits, it’s essential to consider more sustainable alternatives. Natural fibres like cotton, linen, and hemp are biodegradable and produced using fewer resources. Additionally, synthetic fibres like recycled polyester and Tencel are more environmentally friendly options.

As you can see from the paragraphs above, Dacron fabric has a number of environmental drawbacks, as its production process consumes energy and resources, generates pollution, and is not biodegradable. This makes it important to consider sustainable alternatives. So let’s look at more sustainable alternatives.

Modal Fabric vs Cotton

Natural Fibers:

  • Organic Cotton: Cotton is a popular alternative to Dacron as it is a natural and biodegradable fibre. It’s also comfortable and breathable but not as strong or durable as Dacron.
  • Linen: Linen is another natural and biodegradable alternative to Dacron. It’s cool and absorbent but not as strong or wrinkle-resistant as Dacron.
  • Hemp: Hemp is a strong and durable natural fibre with similar strength and durability. It’s also biodegradable and requires less water and pesticides to grow than cotton.

Synthetic Fibers:

  • Recycled Polyester: Recycled polyester is made from recycled plastic bottles, which helps to reduce waste and pollution. It’s similar to Dacron in terms of strength and durability.
  • Tencel: Tencel is a synthetic fibre from wood pulp, a renewable resource. It’s similar to Dacron in terms of strength and durability, but it’s more environmentally friendly.

What are the Pros and Cons of Dacron Fabric?

Alright, let’s talk about the pros and cons of Dacron fabric.

First things first, the pros:

  • Dacron is super strong and durable, making it perfect for many different uses like clothing, upholstery, and even industrial textiles.
  • It doesn’t stretch out easily, which makes it great for sportswear and outdoor clothing, as well as for things like rope, webbing, and sailcloth.
  • Dacron is resistant to shrinking, wrinkling, and fading, which means it’ll keep its shape and colour for a long time.
  • It has moisture-wicking properties, which keep you dry and dries quickly. Bonus!
  • Dacron is also resistant to mildew and bacteria, making it perfect for things like tents, camping equipment, and medical and industrial textiles.

But, like with anything, there are also some cons to consider:

  • Dacron isn’t the most environmentally friendly fabric out there. It’s made from petroleum, which isn’t a renewable resource, and the production process can be pretty harmful to the environment.
  • Since it’s not biodegradable, it can contribute to pollution when disposed of.
  • It’s more expensive than other synthetic fabrics like polyester.
  • It’s not as breathable as natural fibres like cotton, which can make it less comfortable to wear in hot weather.

Care Instructions

Dacron fabric is relatively easy to care for. Still, it’s essential to use a mild detergent, avoid bleach and fabric softener, and avoid exposing it to high heat when washing, drying and ironing. 

Washing

Dacron fabric can be machine washed, but using a mild detergent and washing on a gentle cycle is essential. Avoid using bleach or fabric softener. Washing coarse fabrics and dark and light colours separately is also a good idea, as it can cause pilling or colour bleeding.

Drying

Dacron fabric can be tumble dried on a low heat setting. However, we recommend line drying, which is much more sustainable. However, if you have to use a tumble dryer, avoid over-drying, as this can cause shrinkage. 

Ironing

Dacron fabric can be ironed in a low-heat setting. However, avoid using steam, as this can cause shrinkage. This fabric is relatively wrinkle-resistant and usually doesn’t need to be ironed. However, if you have to iron, we recommend ironing while it’s still slightly damp.

Stain removal

When it comes to stain removal, it’s best to treat the stain as soon as possible. Use a mild detergent and warm water to spot-clean the area. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as these can cause discolouration.

Brands that use Tencel and Recycled Polyester

Many sustainable brands make clothing from recycled polyester and Tencel. Some popular brands include:

  • Patagonia: Patagonia is a well-known outdoor clothing brand using recycled polyester in many products. They also use organic cotton and other sustainable materials.
  • Eileen Fisher: Eileen Fisher is one of the more sustainable fashion brands using Tencel in many clothing items. They also use organic cotton and other sustainable materials.
  • Reformation: Reformation is a sustainable fashion brand that uses recycled polyester and Tencel in many clothing items. They also use sustainable materials such as organic cotton and linen.
  • Tentree: Tentree is an eco-friendly brand that uses Tencel, organic cotton and recycled polyester to make clothing. They also plant ten trees for every item purchased.
  • Pangaia: Pangaia is a sustainable fashion brand that uses Tencel and recycled polyester in its clothing. They also use sustainable materials such as organic cotton and linen.

These are some well-known brands, but many other sustainable brands use recycled polyester and Tencel. Therefore, researching and comparing different sustainable fashion brands before purchasing is always a good idea.

In conclusion…

Dacron fabric has many benefits, including strength, durability, and resistance to shrinking, wrinkling and fading. As a result, it’s commonly used in various applications, such as clothing, upholstery, and industrial textiles. However, it’s essential to consider its environmental impact, as the production process of Dacron can be energy-intensive and not biodegradable. 

Many sustainable alternatives are available to Dacron, such as natural fibres like cotton, linen and hemp and synthetic fibres like recycled polyester and Tencel. These alternatives are biodegradable, produced using fewer resources, and can be used in many of the same applications as Dacron. Therefore, when deciding on using Dacron, weighing the pros and cons, considering its environmental impact, and considering more sustainable alternatives are crucial.

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