Types of Dyes, Whitening, and Print Processes We Use on Our Garments.

Our dedication to the integrity of our products is present in every detail of development. From where the crops are grown and how they are grown, to where the fabric is made and how it is processed, to what finishes the fabric has, and the other types of materials and notions that are used to embellish the garments with.

All of these factors are key elements to ensuring a truly organic product. Below we discuss a couple of the dye and print processes that we use on our merchandise:

Clay dyes
Many of our garments are dyed using natural clay. Clay, mud and dirt has been used to dye clothing for thousands of years. Clay-based dyes allow for a purely organic and all-natural alternative to chemical dyestuffs by using only all-natural and biodegradable materials.

The process that is used to dye our clay-based garments has been perfected to ensure colorfastness, durability, and applicability to knitted fabrics. The clay dyeing process is eco-friendly and avoids the use of synthetic chemicals and table salt which are routinely used in many “normal” dye processes. The by-products of producing these dyes are toxic runoff and high salinity which are harmful to our waterways.

Utilizing the abundance of our natural resources, most of the clays that are used in our garments come from the Southeastern United States (Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas). Many of the clay dye shades are made by mixing and blending different clays together.

Plant-based Dyes
Plant-based dyes are made from naturally derived ingredients such as roots, nuts, flowers, clays, and tree barks. Dating back to 3,000 BC, plant-based dyes are the oldest dye method and now unfortunately the least common, due to time and cost. Additionally, the fact that many knit fabric blends are not able to hold natural dyes as well as synthetic dyes is also a factor of why they are not more commonly available; along with there being a more limited range of color in natural dyes compared to synthetically derived dyes.

Low-impact and GOTS Dyes
Low-impact/fiber reactive and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) dyes are eco-friendly dyes in agreement with organic standards. They are free of heavy metals, toxic compounds and carcinogens; and they are much better for you and the environment.

Low impact has most all of the “free of” claims that the GOTS certified dyes do but GOTS dyes take it one step further than low impact dyes as they come with a global certification verifying these imposed regulations and standards and are tested for skin irritations and sensitivities.

GOTS dyes are prohibited from containing toxic materials including heavy metals, flurocarbons, ammonia, bleaches and formaldehyde. Therefore all the GOTS dyes are certified as “non toxic” and have been tested to not cause any dermatological health affects. GOTS dyes do not contain many of the harmfully toxic ingredients found in conventional dyes. However, these dyes do still contain some chemicals that can compromise the integrity and nature of an organic garment and which may effect one’s health; so this is important to note if you have extreme sensitivities or prefer a garment that is made only from truly organic ingredients.

Both the dyeing and whitening processes are important to note when purchasing any goods made with organic and natural fabrics. Some garments that are made with fabrics such as organic cotton have been whitened or finished using bleach, other harsh whitening agents, and toxic dyes. In our opinion, this renders the fabric as no longer organic as these chemicals compromise the purity of the fibers.

Hydrogen Peroxide
Garments and textiles that come with a global organic certification such as “GOTS Certified Organic” guarantee that no harsh whitening agents have been used. Instead a natural lightening agent such as hydrogen peroxide is used to whiten the fabric. If a garment is not certified organic and is white in color you may want to ask the manufacturer of the garment how the fabric was whitened.

Most of the ink used in clothing manufacturing is full of chemicals that can seep into our skin. Although being marketed as eco-friendly, they often use formaldehyde as a bonding agent. Below are the printing processes we use:

SeaInk is a proprietary dye process for screen printing that uses a base derived from seaweed as the binding agent and is free of the harmful chemicals that are found in most other textile print processes such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride), synthetic resins and toxic formaldehyde binders. SeaInk allows us to evade from the negative impact of standard dyes without forfeiting vivid colors. Produced by the first and only GOTS certified screen printer in the USA.

NON-PVC Next Generation Inks

This screen printing process uses inks that are PVC, phthalate, azo, heavy metal, formaldehyde, and plastisol free. This printing process is still an oil based process but free of the harmful additives that many conventional screen printing processes use. This method offers garment fastness for both rubbing and washing, giving your garment a longer life with vibrant clean color embellishments.

Before purchasing a garment or textile product that you hope to be organic or free of chemicals, in order to feel secure about your purchase and ensure you are getting what you assume to be pure and natural, contact the company you are purchasing the product from and do not be afraid to inquire about the dyes used, the chemical processes that were involved in making the fabrics and if any finishes have been used in the manufacturing process.

You can shop with confidence on Ohganix knowing that our products have been vetted to follow our strict organic standards and are free of any harmful chemicals in order to keep the integrity of the natural and organic fibers.