A Simple Guide to Colour Fastness Testing

07 May 2013

This blog is a simple explanation of colour fastness testing with reference to some of the related James Heal instruments.

Colour fastness testing is undertaken to measure the level of fading or bleeding that occurs with a material. Most commonly applied to textile garments and fabric testing, there are a range of colour fastness test methods that can be undertaken. Colour fastness tests normally involve subjecting the sample material to controlled conditions such as heat or light and assessing the level of colour change or dye change that has occurred.

Some examples of Colour Fastness Tests:

Light fastness testing

Light fastness testing involves subjecting samples to intense artificial light to assess the impact on the material.

Our TruFade light fastness tester can be used to test light fastness of textiles and leather materials.

Man testing fabric in light fastness tester

Poor performance in light fastness testing indicates that a product is likely to fade when exposed to light. In the case of clothing this may result in product returns or complaints from customers so if garment manufacturers can undertake light fastness testing during R&D this can provide a warning sign when developing clothing and other consumer items that are likely to be exposed to sunlight.

Rub fastness testing

Colour fastness to rubbing tests involve rubbing a standard fabric (crocking cloth or cotton lawn) on the surface of a coloured fabric specimen. This is usually carried out using a crockmeter which rubs a finger across the fabric sample. The level of dye transfer is evaluated to determine the level of staining that has occurred during the test.

Our Crockmaster can be used to determine colour fastness to wet and dry rubbing. Crockmaster is used for a variety of applications including textiles, laminate flooring and carpets.

Wash fastness testing

Colour fastness to washing tests involve measuring the level of dye transfer during washing. This type of test typically simulates domestic washing machines or commercial laundering. This helps to ascertain whether a fabric is likely to bleed when washed and the risk of staining other clothes within the washing cycle. The sample fabric is assessed to determine the level of colour fastness. Multifibre is a piece of fabric that incorporates several different materials and this is used to assess the level of dye transfer.

Our Dynawash instrument is used to predict the behaviour of garments and printed fabric during domestic washing. This performs consistent test parameters to assess the level of colour fastness, dimensional change and print durability during washing.

Person placing sample fabric in Gyrowash wash fastness tester

Our Gyrowash instrument is used to assess the colour fastness of fabric to washing and dry cleaning as well as chlorinated water. There are different models available depending on the amount of colour fastness testing that you wish to undertake.

If you have any questions regarding colour fastness testing please do not hesitate to contact us at hello@james-heal.co.uk

Tags: colour fastness testing, light fastness testing, rub fastness testing, wash fastness testing