Tencel is an incredibly versatile fabric with many benefits and advantages.
I bet that you have heard about Tencel being good for the planet. A friend might have even mentioned how nice it is to wear. Let me tell you that there are many more benefits of tencel clothing.
Tencel can be used to make anything from flowy dresses, stretchy sportswear to breathable bed sheets or stiffer smart shirts. This is because the length of the fibre can be altered to change the thickness and texture of the end product. The result, a sustainable fabric that has many different benefits. So what are the key benefits of tencel clothing?
In this article, we are going to explore exactly this, what are the benefits of tencel. But first let’s start with the basics.
Tencel is a man made fibre with natural origins. It is sometimes referred to as Lyocell. In fact, TENCEL™ is a brand of Lyocell fabric produced by the manufacturer Lenzing AG. If this sounds confusing, we have written more about the difference between TENCEL™ and Lyocell here.
Lenzing’s TENCEL™ is typically made from eucalyptus wood and has amazing eco-friendly properties that makes it different from earlier wood derived fabrics such as Rayon or Modal. This has helped it earn international recognition as one of the most sustainable fabrics on the market to date.
Yes, TENCEL™ is sustainable, but there are many more benefits of tencel fabric than sustainability alone.
So let’s explore these benefits now.
It would be wrong not to start without acknowledging why tencel is eco friendly. To start with, Tencel is sourced from sustainably managed eucalyptus wood that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). It is then produced through a closed loop system that recovers 99% of the non-toxic chemicals needed to break down the wood into fibre. This closed loop system is powered by bio-energy. All in all, Tencel is about as sustainable a material as it gets. Keen to know more? You’ll be blown away by the details on how tencel is so sustainable here.
A key advantage of tencel is its ability to wick moisture from the skin quickly. In fact, compared to cotton tencel can absorb moisture around 50% more quickly and release it into the atmosphere. This makes it ideal for exercise, hot weather, intimate garments or even bed sheets. How does tencel wick more moisture? It’s actually due to the nanotechnology that is built into the fibre.
Tencel is a very breathable material that helps keep you cool in hot weather. This gives the benefit of helping maintain and regulate the temperature of the body, adding additional versatility to the fabric.
Tencel is reported to be anti-bacterial, meaning your clothes smell fresher for longer. Evidence supports this, showing that tencel and other cellulose fabrics help slow the growth of bacteria. Now I am not going to deep dive into why tencel is anti-bacterial, but the simple breathability of the fabric likely is the most beneficial feature preventing bacterial growth. And less washing means a more sustainable wardrobe (although this is not an excuse to stop washing your clothes!)
One of the key benefits of tencel is it’s high quality feel and supreme comfort on skin. Due to the fine fibres that are produced, tencel can be incredibly soft and comfortable to wear. How soft do I hear you asking? According to TENCEL™’s own website, it is twice as soft as cotton. Don’t believe them? Well, although I can’t prove it’s twice as soft, try to give it a feel next time you find it in the shops or buy a tencel top from us and find out for yourselves (*ahem shameless plug).
So we have established that a key benefit of Tencel is it’s softness. What makes tencel even better is the fact that tencel clothes remain softer for longer. Tencel or Lyocell fabrics are able to withstand repeated wash and dry cycles compared to regular cotton.
Unlike rayon, the first generation of regenerated cellulose fibre, tencel fabric is strong even when wet. This gives tencel the benefit of being able to be machine or hand washed without needing to worry about the material stretching or losing its shape.
This is particularly useful if you (like me) hate ironing. Tencel is one of the rare fabrics that doesn’t crinkle or crease easily, and any creases that do form in the fabric due to being scrunched up for a long time easily fall out. This alone is one of the best benefits of tencel!
One key property of tencel is its versatility. Tencel is suitable for everything from soft flowy dresses or T-shirts through to breathable bed sheets, stretchy activewear, or stiffer smart shirts. This is because the eco fabric has controllable fibrillation, meaning that the fibre itself can be engineered to form thicker or thinner threads when it is being made. Perfect for everything from silky smooth suede to a more rigid linen texture.
Tencel is a 100% natural material made from wood pulp, meaning that it can fully biodegrade through home compositing. Tests show that half the material is broken down after just 3 months, which is around double the speed of cotton.
Tencel was created with colour in mind, an important feature not to be overlooked. No one wants their bright coloured tops to fade over time, it is a key reason clothing is thrown out. What’s more, one of the advantages of tencel is that it’s easy to dye without the need for bleach. This is because raw undyed tencel is white whereas cotton and other natural fibres are often off white or beige. This removes the need to add more chemicals to bleach the fabric before dying, adding to it’s eco-friendly positives.
Tencel has the added benefit of being great for allergy prone or sensitive skin. It’s soft smooth fibre feels kind as it gently drapes on your skin and wicks any moisture quickly away. It helps keep the skin dry and avoids irritations.
Whilst we have talked at length about the advantages of tencel, there are disadvantages of tencel clothing that we should also mention. So what are the disadvantages of tencel?
Tencel is a great eco material, but it often comes with a premium price tag. Tencel can be more expensive than most eco fabrics, however it is becoming more common to see tencel in stores and this is bringing down the price. We at Cariki sell our own affordable tencel clothes.
Tencel can shrink during its first wash but will retain its shape after that. Typically tencel shrinks around 3-5%, which is similar to cotton. To avoid shrinkage, wash on a lower heat and do not tumble dry. Always follow the care instructions on the label if in doubt.
Something to watch out for are tencel blends where less environmentally friendly materials are added. For example, tencel blended with synthetics such as nylon, polyester or acrylic are less environmentally beneficial than tencel blended with organic cotton.
I think you’ll agree that tencel is a fabric with a huge range of benefits. If you are looking for high quality clothes that are better for the environment, soft on your skin, durable and will keep you fresher for longer, tencel provides a perfect material choice for you. Afterall, anything that helps you look good, feel good and do good for the environment is surely worth the investment.
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