Natural textile fibers


Natural fibers can be of animal or plant origin. Animal fibers include alpaca, camel, vicuña, guanaco, guaritzo (the offspring of a male llama and a female alpaca), goat, mohair, cow, rabbit, llama, sheep, pig, as well as fur and silk. Solvent-washed wool, recycled rag fiber, noil, re-processed wool, recycled wool, shoddy and fiber from silk waste and yarn are called regenerated or man-made animal fibers.

Natural plant fibers (called bast) include abaca, pineapple, henequin, jute, kapok, kenaf, coir, hemp, flax, manila, ramie, sisal, straw, hemp (crotalaria) and cotton.

BALES OF COTTON in a scuttle shop at the DAKA-TEX factory (Uzbekistan).


Cotton, which produces the world's most abundant natural textile fiber, is grown in many tropical and temperate regions. The main producing countries are China, the USA, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Turkey, Egypt and Australia. The largest consumer of cotton is China, followed by India, the USA, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey and Egypt.

Cotton is a white, brownish-white, yellowish-white, or bluish-white fibrous substance that covers the seeds of some plants of the genus Gossypium, a family of mallows. Cotton is used to make linen, clothes, decorative and technical fabrics, sewing threads, cords and much more. It is suitable for making not only low-grade, cheap types of gauze and printed cloth, but also thin linen, as well as lace and other openwork materials.

Cotton is characterized by the length and thickness (“fineness”) of the fiber, as well as its ability to absorb dye. Long-staple cotton makes high-quality textiles, while short-staple cotton makes durable ones.


Linen fabrics, considered the most ancient type of fabric, are made from the fibrous material of fiber flax stems - Linum usitatissimus. It has a thin stem reaching a height of 1 m, small narrow leaves and bright blue flowers. When grown for fiber, flax is sown often so that the plants branch only at the upper end and the fiber is longer. When grown for seeds (to obtain flaxseed oil), flax is sown less often so that it produces more branches with seeds.

Linen fabrics are highly absorbent, lint-free, shiny and cool to wear. Until recently, they were considered wrinkleable, but now ways have been found to make flax fiber elastic. Linen is used to make towels, bed linen, tablecloths, sheets, drapery, upholstery fabrics, cushioning materials and various items of clothing: blouses, sports jackets, skirts, slacks (wide trousers) and children's clothing. Linen wallpaper and furniture fabrics are used in home interiors.

Every year, about 680 thousand tons of flax fiber are produced worldwide. Main producers: Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, France, Egypt, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium and the Netherlands. The best soaked flax in the world comes from Belgium. The water in the Leie (Lies) river in Belgium is especially suitable for soaking flax. The famous “city of flax” Kortrijk is located on this river.


Wool is considered to be a real fiber of animal origin if it is cut from live sheep. The “dead” wool collected in slaughterhouses is in all respects significantly worse than the “live” one.

About 270 thousand tons of sheep wool is produced annually in the world, with about a third of this amount coming from Australia, and the rest from the CIS countries, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Uruguay, China, Turkey and the USA.

Woolen fabrics made from a mixture of long and short fibers are soft (although they do not crease), but they do not retain sharp folds. Worsted woolen fabrics, or combed wool fabrics, are made only from long fibers. They are smooth, strong, quite durable, but acquire gloss during wear. For the first time, recycled wool gives, as a rule, more durable and more elastic textiles than other types of wool.


Silk is obtained by unwinding the cocoons of Asian silkworm caterpillars. Bombix mori. Silk fiber is distinguished by its luster, elasticity, strength and tear resistance. The annual production of raw silk is about 45 thousand tons. The main producers are Japan and China, followed by South Korea, Uzbekistan and India.