Comprehensive Technology Information

Application of Enzymes in Textile Industry

Enzymes, such as cellulases, catalase, and laccase, are commonly used in the textile industry. These enzymes are used to removing the starch, degrading excess hydrogen peroxide, bleaching textiles and degrading lignin. Because of the highly specific, efficient, non-toxic, and eco-friendly characteristics, the use of enzymes in the textile industry is rapidly growing. The application of cellulases for denim finishing and lactases for decolorization of textile effluents and textile bleaching are the most recent commercial advances. Furthermore, the use of enzymes results in reduced process times, energy and water savings, improved product quality and potential process integration.

Properties of enzymes used in textiles

Firstly, the enzyme accelerates the reaction by lowering the activation energy and remains intact at the end of the reaction by acting as a catalyst. Secondly, enzymes operate under a milder condition. Enzymes can be used in catalytic concentrations at low temperatures and at pH-values near to neutral. Thirdly, enzymes are the best alternative to toxic, hazardous, and polluting chemicals. Fourthly, enzymes act only on specific substrates, for example, enzymes used in desizing do not affect cellulose hence there is no loss of strength of cotton. Fifthly, enzymes are easy to control because their activity depends upon optimum condition. Sixthly, enzymes are biodegradable. At the end of the reaction in which enzymes used we can simply drain the remaining solution because enzymes are biodegradable and do not produce toxic waste on degradation hence there is no pollution.

Enzymes used in textile processing

Amylases are used to remove starch-based size for improved and uniform wet processing in the textile industry. An amylase enzyme can be used for desizing processes at low-temperature (30-60ºC) and optimum pH is 5.5-6.5. The advantage of these enzymes is that they are specific for starch, removing it without damaging to the support fabric.

Scouring is the removal of non-cellulosic material present on the surface of the cotton. In generally cellulase and pectinase are combined and used for Bioscouring. In this pectinase destroy the cotton cuticle structure by digesting the pectin and removing the connection between the cuticle and the body of cotton fiber whereas cellulase can destroy cuticle structure by digesting the primary wall cellulose immediately under the cuticle of cotton.

The purpose of cotton bleaching is to decolorize natural pigments and to confer a pure white appearance to the fibers. Mainly flavonoids are responsible for the color of cotton. The most common industrial bleaching agent is hydrogen peroxide. Conventional preparation of cotton requires high amounts of alkaline chemicals and consequently, huge quantities of rinse water are generated. However, radical reactions of bleaching agents with the fiber can lead to a decrease in the degree of polymerization and, thus, to severe damage. Therefore, replacement of hydrogen peroxide by an enzymatic bleaching system would not only lead to better product quality due to less fiber damage but also to substantial savings on washing water needed for the removal of hydrogen peroxide. An alternative to this process is to use a combination of suitable enzyme systems. Amyloglucosidases, pectinases, and glucose oxidases are selected that are compatible concerning their active pH and temperature range.

Biopolishing is a finishing process that improves fabric quality by mainly reducing fuzziness and pilling property of cellulosic fiber. The objective of the process is the elimination of micro fibrils of cotton through the action of cellulase enzyme. Biopolishing treatment brings the fabric a cleaner surface, a cooler feel, lustre, and softer feel.


  1. Mojsov K. Application of enzymes in the textile industry: a review [J]. 2011.

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