Olefin Fabric – Properties and Sustainability

Olefin fabric is a synthetic material made of propylene gas and ethylene, with propylene being the main source. It is known for being lightweight yet tough, durable, and stain-resistant. While olefin might not be a household fabric name like cotton, wool, or linen, it is popular in several industries.

Brief History of Olefin Fabric

100% olefin fabric
100% olefin fabric 

Olefin fabric was first manufactured in Italy in 1957. The Italian chemist Giulio Natta successfully developed a process suitable for more textile applications. The United States later followed the production of olefin fibers in 1960. Currently, it makes up 16% of the total fiber production in the United States. 

How Olefin Fabric is Being Produced

Olefin fabric is a man-made fiber derived from polymerizing propylene and ethylene gases by melting the chemicals. These chemicals require a temperature between 110° C and 135° C to melt. 

After melting, they are run through a spinneret machine, which forces the materials through small holes to produce a long fiber. Then, the fiber is used to make the end product (fabric). Since olefin is difficult to dye after formation, manufacturers solution-dye it before or during processing.

The production process is inexpensive, meaning it creates nearly no waste. Because the olefin fabric has an easy, inexpensive manufacturing process, many companies favor the product. In addition, you can easily recycle olefin fabric.

Properties of Olefin Fabric


Olefin fabric has been popular amongst manufacturers in several industries. The properties that contribute to its popularity include the following: 


Olefin fabric is water resistant; water remains on the fabric instead of being absorbed, making it easier to dry. It also drains moisture and sweat, ensuring you won’t stick to your chair during the hot season. Olefin’s water resistance also makes it resistant to abrasion and mold.


Manufacturers must dye olefin fabric during processing instead of after. Therefore, the fabric’s color and pattern won’t fade, giving your product a sharp and consistent look for many years. Naturally, olefin is sunlight resistant; however, this solution dying won’t make it fade with sun exposure.


Olefin fabric has its functions, and you can use it to make products like ropes, carpets, wallpaper, and other things because of its good quality. 


It didn’t take long for the United States to join Italy in producing olefin fibers once they started in 1967. One key reason for olefin adoption is its eco-friendly nature. The production process involves few by-products, meaning that the ingredients used to create the product are completely used and can be recycled.

Easy to Clean

Stains do not stick to olefin fabric, and water does not get absorbed in it; therefore, it’s very easy to clean. You can therefore use your olefin fabric for outdoor furniture or automotive interiors since difficult stains won’t stick. The only exemption from this is oil-based stains, which can be tricky to remove since the oil bonds with olefin.


Compared to other weaker natural fabrics, olefin can be used to create tough products. The strength of olefin also ensures that the product will last for years without getting worn out. Therefore, it is great for outdoor products like automobile interior fabric, rugs, chairs, and even wallpapers.


Olefin is the lightest common fiber, with a density of 0.92 grams per cubic centimeter. Therefore, they are great for summer clothes, which many people prefer to be light. It is not uncommon to see olefin materials float in water.

Uses of Olefin Fabric

olefin sofa

Olefin is versatile for various uses and is good to use, especially when you want outdoor fabric for your product. Here are some uses of olefin fabric.

Automotive interiors

Olefin can be used for trunks, buses, parcel shelves, armrests, doors, and side panels. The fabric won’t puncture or wear out easily when a passenger moves in and out of the vehicle.


Upholstery is the material, which also includes fabric, that makes up the soft covering of couches, chairs, sofas, and other furniture. Using olefin fabric for covering them guarantees better use of the furniture for a long time. 


In industries, olefin is used to create ropes, heat-sealable bags, carpets, bagging, filter fabric, and even bags.


The use of olefin is not limited to industries and upholstery but also to things we wear on our bodies. These things include hoodies, socks, sportswear, and thermal underwear.

Cushions and Pillows

Olefin also makes great and comfortable covers for cushion seats and pillows. 

Care For Olefin Fabric

While olefin fabric might resist sunlight, water, stain, abrasion, and mold, it is not maintenance-free. Olefin fabric is heat sensitive, so when ironing an olefin fabric, it’s best to set the iron to its lowest temperature to avoid damage. 

In addition, when drying-cleaning apparel made with olefin fabric, low-tumble drying with little or no heat is recommended. Also, for oily stains on olefin fabrics, detergent, bleach, and lukewarm water can remove such stains. 

Olefin fabrics, when already worn out, can also be recycled, so it does not have to be wasted.

Is Olefin Fabric Sustainable?

Yes! In fact, Olefin fabric has emerged as a promising solution in the textile industry due to its unique properties and its positive impact on sustainability. Also known as polypropylene, olefin is a synthetic fiber that is derived from petroleum. However, despite its petroleum-based origin, olefin fabric offers several sustainable advantages throughout its lifecycle.

One of the key sustainability benefits of olefin fabric lies in its production process. Compared to other synthetic fibers like polyester, olefin requires less energy and water during manufacturing. It has a lower carbon footprint and generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions, making it a more environmentally friendly choice. Olefin is also highly resistant to stains, moisture, and mildew, reducing the need for chemical treatments and prolonging the lifespan of products made from this fabric.

Another great bonus is, olefin fabric is recyclable, adding to its sustainability credentials. At the end of its useful life, olefin can be broken down and transformed into new fibers, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills. Recycling olefin fabric helps conserve resources and reduces the demand for new raw materials, thereby mitigating the environmental impact of the textile industry.

Another noteworthy aspect of olefin fabric is its durability. This fabric is incredibly resilient and can withstand harsh weather conditions, UV radiation, and abrasion. As a result, products made from olefin have a longer lifespan, reducing the frequency of replacements and consequently decreasing waste generation. The durability of olefin fabric also contributes to energy and resource conservation in the long run.

Olefin fabric truly offers a sustainable alternative in the textile industry. Its lower energy and water consumption during production, recyclability, and durability make it an eco-friendly choice.

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