Have you ever read a label that said "Lyocell" and wondered what kind of material it was? This article is for you!
What is Lyocell and Tencel?
Lyocell is a natural fiber made from wood. In an environmentally friendly process, the wood is softened and the cellulose is extracted with the help of a solvent. In the next step, these cellulose fibers are spun into yarn, with which the Tencel ™ fabric is woven.
Lyocell (Cly) is the cellulose fiber that is extracted and processed by the Lenzing company into Tencel ™. So we see the following variants on the clothes labels:
- Tencel ™
- Lyocell Tencel ™
- Lenzing Tencel ™
The production is extremely environmentally friendly, so over 99% of the water and solvent required is reused for further production. In this way, there is a closed cycle with renewable resources.
Is Lyocell compostable?
Lyocell or Tencel ™ are 100% natural fibers and biodegradable or compostable. In the textile industry, however, they are often mixed with other fibers.
We often see mixtures with polyamide, polyester or elastane - that is, synthetic fibers - which give the material elasticity. Basically, this is not a bad thing, because synthetic fibers allow clothing to adapt to the body without permanently deforming. Fitted underwear, for example, can adapt to your body shape, but will return to its original shape afterwards instead of wearing out.
The clear disadvantage, however, is of course the loss of the garment's degradability. The fibers are mixed up and no longer compostable. That means the decomposition process takes longer, depending on the number of hundreds of years.
One thing to keep in mind is the plastic pollution caused by washing clothes. An estimated 1900 microplastic particles are released per wash cycle (Greenpeace, 2017). This varies significantly between the different synthetic fibers, so I'll be happy to write a detailed article on this at a later date.
Fortunately, there are more and more brands that manufacture sustainable fashion entirely from natural fibers and do not use synthetic fibers.
How does lyocell feel?
Lyocell is an absolute favorite material: it feels very pleasant on the skin, has a silky feel and is smoother than cotton. In addition, the sustainable fiber is extremely breathable and has a naturally antibacterial effect.
Do I need to iron clothes made of lyocell?
You can wash and air dry Lyocell without any problems. For example, you can hang a blouse to dry and it will be wrinkle-free without having to iron.
Lyocell and therefore also Tencel are our favorites among fabric materials and will hopefully be more represented in the fashion industry in the future.