A guide to modal fabric is provided here, along with information on its benefits and drawbacks, manufacturing processes, and fabric maintenance advice.
The cellulose of beech trees is spun to create the bio-based fabric known as modal. Because beech trees don’t require much water to grow, the production process for modal generally uses 10–20 times less water than that of cotton. This is why modal is generally regarded as a more environmentally friendly fabric than cotton.
Although modal is an environmentally-friendly semi-synthetic fabric alternative to viscose and cotton, there are controversies around its level of sustainability. Modal fabric is undeniably more resilient than conventional rayon, though. This article serves as a fabric guide for the modal.
What is Modal Fabric?
Used primarily for bedding and towels, the modal fabric is a semi-synthetic material made from the pulp of beech trees. It is also used to make lingerie and other sleepwear. Although it is a little more resilient and flexible than rayon in its standard form, modal is still a type of plant-based textile.
For added strength, modal is frequently combined with other fibers like cotton and spandex. Because of its soft texture and high price—it is more expensive than cotton or viscose—modal is regarded as a luxurious textile.
In the 1950s, Japan was where the modal was first created. Today, Lenzing AG in Austria, which owns the trademark for the material, produces the majority of modals under the brands Lenzing Modal, China Modal, and Formatex.
Lenzing has created even thinner variations of the substance called Micro Modal and Modal Air. These versions are even finer knit than the standard modal and make the end product softer, therefore items made from these fabrics are considered even more luxurious.
- Water-Absorbent: The fabric made of modal is moisture-resistant and water-absorbent. This makes it a good option for clothing such as underwear and activewear. The ability of modal fabric to absorb dye also contributes to the creation of finished garments that are colorfast.
- Soft to Touch: Its silky texture and soft-to-the-touch qualities are among the appealing qualities of modal fabric. This indicates that modal clothing is gentle on the skin.
- Eco-Friendly: Compared to other rayon fibers like viscose, modal fabric is an environmentally friendly option. It is produced using fewer chemicals and is derived from regenerative plants. When Modal is produced with the environment in mind, less toxic waste results from the process of extracting cellulose fibers,
- Biodegradable: Modal fabric degrades naturally. This implies that it can decompose, preventing landfill pollution.
- Less Likely to Shrink: Compared to viscose rayon, modal fabric is less likely to shrink when washed. It can keep its shape even when washed in a washing machine.
- The Fabric is Breathable and Stretchy: Stretchy and breathable modal fabric. Due to these qualities, it can be used to make both casual and athletic clothing.
- Durable and Resistant to Pilling: The strong, resilient, and wear- and pressure-resistant modal fabric resists piling. Additionally pill-resistant, this variety of rayon. This indicates that modal fabric has a smooth finish and is wrinkle-resistant.
- Forest Destruction: There is typically no assurance that the pulp used to make modal clothing comes from sustainable forests unless it is from Lenzing.
- Harmful Chemicals: Carbon disulfide is added to cellulose as part of the modal fabric production process. An example of a neurotoxin is carbon disulfide. Through the air, it enters the environment and has the potential to harm humans. Additionally, it can be found in the tainted water that factories use to make rayon.
- Allergic Reaction: Some people experience an allergic reaction the first time they wear modal fabric. When using this textile, some of these reactions include rashes, itching, and redness.
How is Modal Fabric Manufactured?
Compared to fabrics made of viscose rayon, the acquisition, and production of modal are more environmentally friendly. Since modal is a type of rayon, its manufacturing requirements are similar to those of viscose rayon. The process involves spinning reconstituted beech trees into cellulose3 fibers. Industries employ a production process to create cellulose fiber.
As the first step in creating modal fabric, manufacturers harvest beech trees. In order to extract the cellulose from the tree or wood pulp, they chip these trees into small pieces. Then they shape the cellulose into sheets.
After that, the producers immerse the sheets in a liquid sodium hydroxide solution. Having been reduced to crumbs, these sheets are now submerged in carbon disulfide.
Benefits of Using and Wearing Modal Fabric
Because of its lightness and softness, modal, which is regarded as a luxury textile, is frequently used in fabric blends to impart a high-end feel. Fashion designers who care about the environment now find it to be very popular.
- Stretchy. T-shirts and athletic wear are perfect applications for the flexibility of modal.
- Soft. Bed sheets, pajamas, and undergarments are frequently made of modal because of their incredibly soft touch.
- Breathable. Modal is great for sports clothing and everyday clothes because the fabric weave is very breathable.
- Water absorbent. Micropores within the fabric absorb any water or sweat that comes into contact with them, making modal 50% more absorbent than cotton.
- Durable. Because of its tight weave and long fibers, modal is very durable and is used to make everyday household items and clothing.
- Drapes well. Modal has a lovely drape, much like rayon and other silk substitutes, which makes it perfect for clothing and home décor.
- Eco-friendly. Compared to other types of rayon, the production of modal uses fewer chemicals because it is made from regenerative plants.
- Doesn’t pill. The fabric’s smooth finish and resistance to pilling make it perfect for everyday use.
- Colorfast. Warm water allows the fabric to absorb the color, and washing does not cause the color to bleed.
- Doesn’t shrink. Modal is much less likely to shrink in the wash than the majority of rayon-based materials.
- Biodegradable. The biodegradability of the modal is 100 percent.
- Doesn’t crease. With only light ironing, the modal resists wrinkles and maintains its smoothness.
How Do You Care for Modal Clothes?
It’s essential to properly care for modal clothing. The items’ lifespan will be extended as a result. Here are some ways to care for your pieces:
Pure modal clothing can be washed in a washing machine at different temperatures. The best and most sustainable method, however, is to use cold water. Reduction in size is facilitated by this.
Use Wash Bags for Delicate Items
Use wash bags when washing delicate items in the washing machine, such as lingerie and underwear. This aids in preserving these goods.
However, you can also use a dryer on low to medium heat if you can’t dry by air.
Modal fabric can become weak when using chlorine bleach. Use oxygen-based bleach if you must bleach your clothing.
How Sustainable is Modal Fabric?
The eco-friendliness and sustainability of modal fabric are frequently questioned, but it’s important to investigate. The processing of this fabric still calls for the use of chemicals and dyes, despite the fact that it is made from plants, as can be seen upon closer inspection.
Another issue is forest destruction, particularly when businesses don’t take sustainable forests into account during the production process. These raise concerns about how environmentally friendly modal fabric actually is and what effect it has on the environment.
Modal Fabric Sustainability Varies According to Its Manufacture
In general, each business’s practices determine how environmentally friendly its modal fabric is. We can take into account manufacturing procedures like the origin of the pulp, chemical types, and how producers handle water waste.
For instance, modal fabric uses 10–20 times less water during production than cotton does. Since beech trees require less water than cotton plants, this is the case. As a result, the carbon footprint is smaller than that of cotton.
Modal and Lyocell
In addition, lyocell, an entirely organic version of rayon, and modal are very similar. As luxurious fabrics, the two are fierce rivals.
Because an organic solvent is used to make lyocell instead of the sodium hydroxide used to make modal, lyocell is even more environmentally friendly than modal. Beech and eucalyptus trees are just two of the many kinds of trees that can be used to make lyocell.
Modal Vs. Cotton
Modal is now commonly used in place of cotton in some clothing brands’ products. Manufacturers frequently mix this fabric with other textiles, depending on the intended use of a garment. These fabric mixtures are used to create clothing, including cotton/modal, for a variety of purposes and activities.
Modal dries quicker and is more absorbent than cotton. Additionally, when wet, it is less likely to stick to the skin. This justifies the frequent use of it as a textile by eco-friendly clothing companies, sometimes combined with other fibers, for sportswear and activewear.
Modal Vs. Viscose
Despite having comparable production processes, viscose and modal have distinct differences. Modal fabric is stronger and more resilient than viscose rayon. Its breathable and lightweight qualities are unaffected by this, though.
Modal production requires fewer concentrations of chemicals to make it. Due to this, the modal fabric is less hazardous to produce than viscose rayon. For example, TENCEL Modal is sourced from forests that are managed sustainably. In comparison to viscose rayon, the modal fabric is therefore a better choice.
Conclusion: What is Modal Fabric?
An artificial cellulosic fiber called modal has gained popularity in the age of athletic wear. This cotton substitute, which is breathable and absorbent, is used to make bed sheets, pajamas, bathrobes, underwear, and more.
The manufacturers’ transparency should be taken into account when selecting any fabric. Modal fabrics are produced in a variety of facilities. Plant-based materials are undoubtedly sustainable by nature. In their production processes, not all of them, though, adhere to strict environmental standards.
Is Modal a Cheap Fabric?
The softness and high price of modal, which is more expensive than cotton or viscose, are two reasons why it is regarded as a luxurious fabric.
Is Modal Like Cotton Or Polyester?
In the era of activewear, a man-made cellulosic fiber called modal has gained popularity. Breathable and absorbent, this cotton alternative is used to manufacture underwear, pajamas, bathrobes, bed sheets, and more.
Does Modal Shrink in Wash?
Modal does not shrink like other fabrics; it retains its shape, unlike rayon, a closely-related material that can shrink or stretch when washed. Are there any drawbacks to modal fabric? White modal fabric tends to turn yellow when exposed to high heat.