Ensuring Consumer Safety: Lab Testing Requirements for Softline Products

Lab testing for softline goods


When it comes to building a good brand, consumer safety comes first. Product quality and safety can be ensured only through testing the products in the laboratories.

This page listed the common lab test requirements by the internal fashion brands and softline product sourcing companies. These tests are included in national and international testing standards for consumer products (Sofline industry). To ensure your product meets consumer safety standards for your destination market you may need to apply for laboratory testing including the below tests. Be noted some of the tests named here are product-specific.

Products included in softline categories include apparel, home textiles, leather products, and footwear products.

( This list is made for information purposes. Please follow customer requirements in terms of safety and quality testing standards.)

1. Testing of physical properties of apparel and home textile goods:

Fabric Strength and Durability Tests: 
This includes tests like tear strength, tensile strength, abrasion resistance, and seam strength. These tests ensure that the fabric can withstand wear and tear during regular use.

Colorfastness Tests: 
Colorfastness tests assess how well the colors of the fabric hold up when exposed to various conditions such as washing, light, and perspiration. Common tests include colorfastness to washing, light, and rubbing.

Dimensional Stability Tests: 
These tests determine whether the fabric will shrink or stretch excessively when subjected to washing, drying, or other conditions. Tests may include dimensional changes after laundering or exposure to heat.

Flammability Testing: 
This is particularly important for home textile products like bedding, curtains, and upholstery fabrics. Flammability tests assess the fabric's resistance to ignition and flame spread according to relevant standards.

Fibre Content Analysis: 
This test confirms the composition of the fabric, ensuring that it meets the requirements specified by regulations or customer specifications. This also includes identifying the percentage of various fibre content in the fabric and final product. For the fibre content labelling this test is essential one.  

Water Absorption and Repellency Tests: 
These tests evaluate how the fabric interacts with water, including its ability to absorb moisture (e.g., for towels) or repel liquids (e.g., for waterproof outdoor gear).

Pilling Resistance Tests: 
Pilling occurs when fibers break and form small balls or pills on the fabric surface. Pilling resistance tests assess the fabric's ability to resist pilling during use and laundering.

This refers to the applications of the product and meeting the customer's requirements.

Dimensional stability: Testing of the dimensional stability

Regulatory tests – Fiber, Flammability, Labelling, Children’s safety

2. Testing of chemical properties of apparel and home textile goods

Here are some common chemical testing requirements for apparel and home textiles:

Restricted Substances Testing: 
Various regulations and standards restrict the use of certain harmful substances in textiles. Common restricted substances include heavy metals (such as lead, cadmium, and mercury), formaldehyde, phthalates, azo dyes, flame retardants, and certain allergenic dyes. Chemical testing is conducted to ensure that the levels of these substances in the product are below regulatory limits.

Allergenic Substances Testing: 
Some substances commonly used in textiles, such as certain dyes and finishing agents, can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Testing may be conducted to identify and quantify allergenic substances to ensure that they are within safe limits. Allergenic and carcinogenic dispersion dye.

pH Testing: 
Textile products including garments and home textiles should have a pH level within a certain range to prevent skin irritation or damage. pH testing ensures that the product's pH is within the acceptable range.

Formaldehyde Testing: 
Formaldehyde is commonly used in textile manufacturing processes but can be harmful if present in high levels. Testing is conducted to ensure that the formaldehyde content in textiles meets regulatory limits.

Antimicrobial Testing: 
Some textile products, particularly those used in healthcare or food service settings, may claim antimicrobial properties. Chemical testing may be conducted to verify the effectiveness of antimicrobial treatments and ensure that they do not pose health risks.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Testing: 
VOCs emitted from certain chemicals used in textile production can contribute to indoor air pollution and pose health risks. Testing may be conducted to measure the levels of VOCs in textile products and ensure compliance with regulations or standards.

Carcinogenic Substances Testing: 
Textile products should not contain carcinogenic substances above certain limits. Chemical testing may be conducted to detect the presence of carcinogens such as certain aromatic amines derived from azo dyes.

Banned AZO Colorants Testing:

Pentachlorophenol (PCP) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) testing:

Chromium (VI) substance testing

Testing of hazardous chemicals in packaging

Be noted that the lab test requirement of the softline goods may vary depending on factors such as the type of product, intended use, regulatory requirements, and customer preferences.

Related document: Softlines Regulatory Handbook 2022

Leading testing labs providing Softlines Testing and inspection services.

This list of testing labs would be handy for readers who want to proceed with testing of the products they manufacture. 
  • Intertek
  • SGS
  • Bureau Veritas
  • TUV
  • QIMA
  • Eurofins Scientific

Sources: QIMA, Intertek

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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