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ISO Textile Testing Standards

Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

Textiles are all around us. But how do we know we're getting what we think we're buying? The textile industry sets standards to help ensure quality. In this lesson, learn about ISO textile testing standards.

What Is ISO?

When you buy an item of clothing like new curtains for your home, or even a fluffy blanket for your bed, do you ever think about where they came from? How do you know they're safe and manufactured to an acceptable level of quality?

ISO is an acronym that stands for the International Organization for Standardization. The term comes from a Greek word ISOS, meaning equal. The International Organization for Standardization is a group of people from many industries who work to create world-wide uniform industrial standards. The standards help insure that products, regardless of where they were made, are reliable, safe and of acceptable quality. In general, ISO standards cover considerations like regulatory issues and management systems. They assess a company's ability to meet customer requirements and offer guidelines to improve performance.

Within the International Organization for Standardization, setting ISO standards is done by technical committees related to specific industries. So, textile standards are set by an international committee composed of people who work in the textile industry.

ISO textile testing standards cover many aspects of international textile production.
woven textiles

Today, textiles come from all over the world. They might be formed in one country, dyed in another, and made into finished goods in yet another. To ensure that the same practices are used in this complicated international process, many companies follow agreed-upon standards related to industrial processes and the goods produced by them. These standards are called ISO textile testing standards.

ISO Textile Testing Standards

As mentioned earlier, the textile industry is complicated. Around the world it employs millions of people. These workers follow many steps and use multiple processes to turn raw materials, including natural fibers like cotton and wool and synthetic or man-made fibers like polyester, into finished textile products like clothes and household goods.

Within the textile industry, following ISO standards can help to ensure consistent quality of the raw materials being used to make textiles, which in turn improves the final product. Adhering to ISO standards can also help lower operating costs and ensure quality management. Following ISO standards often involves inspection and testing at each stage of a process. For example, raw materials might be tested, then dyed fabrics, and finally finished goods.

ISO testing standards cover raw materials, dyeing processes and finished goods.
rolls of cotton textiles

But ISO standards aren't mandatory. They're guidelines, and some companies only use them for materials and goods that are exported to places like the United States, where strict rules covering textile products and safety concerns are in place.

Kinds of Testing Involved In ISO Standards

ISO textile testing standards include guidelines for a wide range of processes, and hundreds of tests geared for textiles. And new standards are often being developed as textiles, and the materials used to make them, change.

ISO textile testing standards includes tests to ensure the colorfastness of dyed goods. A whole set of standards is in place for evaluating the electrostatic propensity of materials, or the degree to which they give off an electric shock if they're rubbed or come into contact with other materials. The electrostatic tests subject textiles to mechanical and manual friction. Such considerations are important because in some environments, materials that are prone to produce static shock can be dangerous.

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