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LEEDS – Researchers in the UK and Sweden have developed a new test method for water- and oil-resistant textiles which uses an innovative ‘roll-off’ method to assess repellence with movement to more actively reflect how clothes actually behave in everyday use.

As part of this research, it was also found the best non-fluorinated DWRs (durable water repellents) are as good at repelling water as potentially hazardous fluorinated polymers, which still have widespread use in the textile industry.

A survey of consumers also found that fit, price, water resistance and durability were the most important factors when purchasing a new outerwear garment. Stain resistance was ranked least important, indicating that many outdoor garments are ‘over-engineered’ when it comes to the application of stain and oil-repellent finishes.

Dr Richard Blackburn, who heads the Sustainable Materials Research Group at the University of Leeds’ School of Design, said: “Environmentally-friendly and biodegradable solutions are available, but are being resisted by some manufacturers and retailers.”

And he called for rain-repellent fluorochemicals used in waterproof clothing to be phased out “as unnecessary and environmentally harmful.”

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