How to Measure Fabric Color Fastness in Textile and Apparel Industry?

What is Color Fastness in Textile?

Colorfastness is defined as the strength of the clothes against fading or running out of clothing colors. It is a very important factor in the assessment of the quality of clothing. Clothes that don’t bleed color are always consumer’s favorites.

Types of Color Fastness in Textile and Apparel Sector:

  1. Colorfastness to washing,
  2. Colorfastness to heat,
  3. Colorfastness to water,
  4. Colorfastness to friction/rubbing,
  5. Colorfastness to cold,
  6. Colorfastness to burning.

Measurement of colorfastness is a very important factor in the textile industry because the resistance of any clothing to fading is what makes it outstanding.

Dependence Factors of Color Fastness:

Many factors affect the strength of colorfastness:

  1. Chemical nature of clothing,
  2. Molecule structure of dye,
  3. Molecular state of dye,
  4. Amount of dye.
  5. Type of conditions to which clothing is exposed.

Color Fastness Test Methods in the Textile and Apparel Industry:

Colorfastness can be measured by numerous methods, those are discussed below:

1. Low-Temperature Launder-Odometer:

It is a process used to test colorfastness to washing or rubbing by an accelerated method. This device is used by the textile industry to simulate industrial procedures. During this process, clothes are put in containers with detergents/cleaning agents and metallic balls for friction and then evaluated for colorfastness quality.


It is used to test the resistance of clothing colors to water and perspiration. Solutions similar to sweat in the composition are used to wet clothes and then pressure is applied to them. In this way, color fastness is assessed via visual or instrumental means.

Perspiration Tester

Fig: Perspiration Tester

Electronic Crock Meter:

This device tests colorfastness to dry or wet rubbing. Nowadays, electronic crock meter is used in the textile industry instead of the mechanical one.

Electronic Crock Meter

Fig: Electronic Crock Meter

Color Matching Cabinet:

It is used to access colorfastness visually. Fabric that undergoes minimal color discoloration when exposed to all these agitating forces is said to have great colorfastness whereas the fabric which undergoes a lot of color discolorations during these tests is said to have poor color fastness or color strength.

Color Matching Cabinet

Fig: Color Matching Cabinet

2. Weather-o-meter:

This is a machine used to test colorfastness against sunlight. Artificial lights used for this purpose and the number of hours to which clothes were exposed to this light are evaluated.

3. Launder-o-Meter:

Also used to test colorfastness against washing of clothes.

4. Surface Abrader:

It is a machine used to determine colorfastness against frosting. It usually depends on the dye penetration in clothes.

Gas Fading Chamber:

Nitrous oxide is always present in our atmosphere which is a result of burning fumes. Colorfastness can be affected by this chemical, in this chamber, clothes are exposed to nitrous oxide and evaluated for color fasting strength.

Gas Fume Chamber

Fig: Gas Fume Chamber

There is also a standard scale to measure color fastness correctly, it ranges from 5 to 1.

5 on this scale means no color change after exposure to all kinds of agitating agents, whereas grade 1 involves a large amount of change in the original color of clothing.

Scale for colorfastness to light varies a little; it ranges from 9 to 1,9 being the best score whereas 1 is the poorest score.

Despite all these procedures used to test colorfastness in the textile industry, the consumer should follow all guidelines given by manufacturers to prolong the strength of colorfastness e.g. clothes should be washed with appropriate chemicals and water temperature should always be optimized.

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