Breaking the Chain: How PFOA-Free Fabrics are Changing the Textile Industry

By Sarah Kao Last updated: April 26, 2023
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When shopping for essential and functional clothing items, it's important to be familiar with the term "PFOA-free"PFAS have been used in water and oil repellent fabrics for decades, but in the past decade through many studies, people acknowledge that PFOA is harmful to us. The following will show you the current situation of PFOA family and PFOA-Free products.

Understanding PFOA

Before understanding PFOA, we must first understand the family it belongs to, known as Per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS). PFAS is a type of water and oil repellent that is very strong and stable, and it is found in everything from furniture to non-stick pans, as well as various water resistant and oil-repellent fabrics and garments.

Despite its usefulness, many studies show that PFAS can cause serious health issues, such as immune system problems, reproductive and metabolic disorders, and toxic effects on organs. It can also harm the environment by contaminating groundwater and soil. PFAS is everywhere and can easily be consumed by people.

Therefore, in order to replace PFAS, PFOA products appeared. It is a short-chain PFAS. Compared with long-chain PFAS, its water and oil repellent effect is not so good, and it is not significantly harmful to the human body or environment. But PFOA is always a one of famliy in PFAS, we can only regard it as a transitional product before PFAS-Free.

The Textile Industry's Use of PFOA

The textile industry ultimately wants all PFAS to be removed from further use. Therefore, short-chain PFAS: PFOA, whose toxicity is not as strong as long-chain PFAS, is the best choice during this transition period.

PFAS and related compounds are widely used in the textile industry due to their stability and hydrophobic and oleophobic properties, making them useful for creating water-repellent fabrics and functional outerwear. Fluorochemicals are the most commonly used repellants in the textile industry becuase of their ability to repel oil and dirt. These repellents are mainly made of fluoropolymers and applied to the surface of fabrics in the form of a thin film.

However, using PFOA -free products is a challenge for many brands, because PFOA-Free chemicals can only have a water-splashing effect based on its natural structure, and no oil-splashing effect at all.

As a result, consumers may perceive the product's performance as worse than before. Nevertheless, pursuing environmental protection requires choosing PFOA-free fabrics of apparel.

The PFOA-Free fabric uses a new water-repellent technology that mimics the natural process by wrapping itself in a spiral around individual fibers. Innovative PFOA-free water repellent treatment technology reduces surface tension, causing water droplets and even aqueous dirt with much higher surface tension to roll off. The best part is that it does not affect breathability and maintains a pleasantly soft feel.


PFOA-Free Fabrics in Practice

One of the reasons for the ban of PFAS is their persistence for hundreds of years, causing serious environmental and human impacts. In the mid-2010s, Greenpeace launched the Detox campaign. to address the use of fluorine-containing compounds by outdoor clothing companies. In 2015, Greenpeace. tested water and snow samples from remote, unspoiled regions across three continents and discovered the presence of these persistent and hazardous chemicals in all the samples.

For example:

  1. Chalk marks: There will be chalk marks on the cloth surface, which is a white powdery appearance due to the accumulation of water repellent.
  2. Unevenness: the performance of water splashing is not uniform, and the produced fabric will have local performance deficiency.
  3. Glue penetration: Due to uneven water repellency, subsequent coating processing will occur. Glue will seep into the front in areas where water repellency is insufficient, which is not only unsightly, but also prone to unstable waterproof and moisture permeable performance.
  4. Not oil-repellent: the user's sunscreen will easily adhere to the clothes because PFOA Free products are not oil-repellent.

However, finding PFAS substitutes is the most challenging task. One of the substitutes is PFOA-free, and the formulation, concentration, and constant adjustment of temperature, speed and pre-treatment are discussed back and forth with pharmacists. Now fabric surfaces and functional flaws will no longer appear. But if you want to have the function of oil repellency at the same time, it cannot be overcome with the current global technology until now!

The Future of PFOA-Free Fabrics

PFOA-Free fabrics are widely used across the world. Countries like America have already implemented federal laws to regulate PFAS, and Europe has officially announced the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) for products exported to Europe.

To further enhance PFOA-Free products, Sunny Special has developed an ultra-durable water repellent using a PFOA-Free/PFAS-Free agent. Our Solapelâ„¢ technology is a PFC-free durable water repellent that maintains 70% efficiency even after 120 washes. We expect this durable, washable product to enable consumers to use their clothing for a longer period of time without the clothing losing its functionality and being discarded. Additionally, Solapelâ„¢ minimizes the contamination of chemicals into the environment by keeping most DWR chemicals on the textile after laundering.



PFOA-Free products have turned into a trend that is not only friendly to the human body but also good for the environment. Not only brands and factories but companies also have responsibilities to pay an effort and ensure their products are beneficial. Users also need to understand that for more environmentally friendly products, some functions must be sacrificed for more environmentally friendly products. With the consensus of the three parties, this matter of PFOA-Free will be smoother.

Please visit our website for more information about Solapel technology of PFOA-free, PFAS-free Solapel.

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