Fabrics Database - Flax

Summaries for Flax

Key: Centre (0) Bad        Outer (6) Good

Characteristics / options defined by the above graphs are proportionally represented and approximate, and are only intended as a guide. As such they do not represent any industry standards. Among other things, fabric construction and weight will influence the perceived ranking.

Data Sheet for Flax


Natural cellulosic fibre. A natural "bast" fibre obtained from flax plants, the fibre is often encountered as linen. Recent developments in agronomy and processing mean that supplies of finer quality fibres are becoming available and finding use in blends with other cellulose fibres, both natural and regenerated.. Flax is a strong durable fibre

Available as:

Linen and in some blends. 100% flax fabrics are generally sold as linen. There has been an increase in the use of flax blends when advantage is taken of the strength of the flax fibres. Currently the fibres find very little application within the corporate clothing field, however woven blends are available in a range of weights.


Needs bleaching before dyeing, treat as cellulosic. Flax naturally has an off-white colour and will therefore require bleaching prior to any dyeing. Hydrogen peroxide bleaching as preparation of the fibre irrespective of the ultimate shade as this preparation route removes most of the extraneous matter in the fibre facilitating better levelling during the dyeing process. The natural colour of flax is often too deep to respond completely to the hydrogen peroxide treatment and a two stage sodium hypochlorite bleach then the hydrogen peroxide bleach is required. This is especially the case when light colours are required.

Flax, like other natural cellulosic fibres, can be dyed with reactive dyes or in some cases direct dyes. If the clothes are to be used for work wear where more durable dyes are likely to be required, reactive dyes, vat dyes or sulphur dyes would be the selection of choice.

Dimensional Stability

Shrink resistant. Good dimensional stability, fibres tend to have higher strength when wet than dry.

Resistance to pilling

Flax fabrics have good resistance to piling

Moisture regain

Typically 12%

Care information

Can be laundered at high temperatures, prone to creasing. Flax can withstand laundering at high temperatures, these should only be used for heavily soiled garments. Flax fabrics are prone to becoming creased during washing and this will requires the use of a hot (steam) iron during pressing. Dyes have a tendency to bleed and suitable separation during washing should be encouraged. Chlorine based bleaches can be safely used on cotton, although dyed fabric should use a colour safe bleach. Tumble-drying requires a high temperature setting. Like cotton, flax can be treated with a crease resistant finish which can improve the "easy care" nature of the fabrics. Treated fabrics should be laundered in accordance to instructions as these may recommend lower heat settings during drying and ironing.


Suits. Heavy weight fabrics such as suiting, lightweight fabrics for shirting are not readily available.

End of life Possibilities

Can be disposed of using all end of life opportunities. A natural cellulose fibre that can be handled in the same way as other cellulose fibres. The fabrics may potentially be reused or re-manufactured and can also be used as a source of cellulose feedstock for regenerated cellulose products. Being naturally biodegradable, the fibres can be composted if required.

Eco aspects

Cost scope (economic impact)

Common trade names



Ryszard Kozlowski, PhD,
Institute of Natural Fibres,
ul. Wojska Polskiego 71b,
60630 Poznan,


Oakdene Hollins Limited, 2017 for the CRR Uniform Reuse Project www.uniformreuse.co.uk


The rationale behind the study has been to provide a means whereby current and potential fibres/fabrics for use in the corporate clothing sector, can be compared. Any such comparison will be dependent on a multitude of factors that will influence the choice. Although application is the foremost factor that will be influencing the material selection, service life and cost will also play an important role.

The information contained within the following data sheets is an attempt to draw together some of the salient points that may be of interest at the specification and design stage without trying to be exhaustive.

De Montfort University produces these data on the fibres/fabric groups and blends on a non exhaustive basis. De Montfort University therefore makes no representation, express or implied that any of the fibres/fabric groups or blends will be unaffected by other treatments or processes. Users of these data must address the possibility of any health and safety issues that may arise personally.