As of 2022, are there any fabrics that actively repel water and other fluids?

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Short answer: Oilcloth is one of the most commonly used fabric along with Polyester, Nylon, Polyurethane Laminate, Thermoplastic Polyurethane, Extra-Long-Staple Cotton, Microfiber, Gore-Tex, Vinyl, Latex and Natural Rubber are some of the fabrics that can actively repel water and some of the other fluids

Structure of Fabric

Since the inception of Gore-Tex in the 1970s, the technology that is used in the production of fabrics that are both waterproof and breathable has been undergoing continuous development and advancement. In addition to this, it features a large number of newly developed textiles that have been made possible by the consistent application of both innovation and evolution.[1]

What makes fabrics, waterproof?[edit]

Fabrics that are waterproof while yet allowing air to pass through them may be created by carefully selecting the fabric structure and tightness, as well as the fiber, yarn composition and characteristics, and water-repellent fabric finish. The pore structure of tightly woven breathable textiles must be designed in such a way that it is impossible for water droplets to enter the fabric from the outside and travel through it.[2] This is the most important criterion. Very fine filaments and micro-fibers (e.g. 1 dtex, 10 m or less) can be knitted into tight constructions to produce pores that are narrow enough to prevent water molecules from penetrating, but substantial enough to allow water vapor to pass through. This allows the material to be waterproof while still allowing water vapor to pass through.[3]

  • The pores of water-resistant textiles are filled with a filler material.
  • In the case of water-proof textiles, the permeability of air and water vapor is either completely nonexistent or very low.
  • Fabrics may be considered waterproof if they are resistant to water absorption.

What makes fabrics, oil repellent?[edit]

Ability to impart DWOR, fluorocarbons are used in the production of water- and stain-resistant textiles for use in garments. Fluorocarbon compounds tend to exhibit a behavior that is characterized by both water and oil repellency simultaneously.[4]

Fabric that is oil-repellent is quite comparable to fabric that is waterproof. For this purpose, the surface tension of the cloth must be very low. By preventing the fibrous material from becoming wet and soiled, by repelling aqueous and oily soil particles, and by preventing adhesion of dry soil through antiadhesive properties, the use of fluorochemical polymers results in fabrics that are both highly water-resistant and highly oil-resistant. This is accomplished by preventing the use of fluorochemical polymers.[5]

How fabrics are made water repellent?[edit]

The fabric must have a rough surface and a flexible structure in order to be water repellent. Additionally, it must have the best water shedding capabilities possible and the appropriate architecture in order to give resistance to penetration. In order to achieve a water resistant finish, the fabric in question must be devoid of sizing, detergents, alkalis, and acids.

  • Wax-based repellents comprise twenty to twenty-five percent paraffin and five to ten percent zirconium salt, an aluminum-based salt. They are inexpensive, capable of providing excellent water-repellency, and resistant to the pressure of water; nevertheless, they are not wash-fast and they are unable to impart oil-repellency. The resulting cloth has poor breathability because of the finishing process.[6]
  • Repellents made from resin are products that result from the condensation of fatty compounds with dimethyl melamines.[7]
  • The completed textiles treated with silicon repellents, which are aqueous emulsions of polydimethylpolysiloxane, have high water-repellency, water vapour permeability, and a soft handling, but they are unable to give soil- or oil-repellency.[8]
  • Fluorochemicals, which are mostly copolymers of fluoroalkyl acrylates and meth-acrylates, are known for their excellent water and oil repellency, resilience to washing and dry cleaning, and excellent soil-repellency; nevertheless, the cost of these chemicals is rather expensive.[9]

List of common water-repellent fabrics[10][edit]

  • Polyurethane Laminate
  • Thermoplastic Polyurethane
  • Extra-Long-Staple Cotton
  • Polyester and Nylon
  • Microfiber
  • Latex and Natural Rubber
  • Gore-Tex
  • Vinyl
  • Wool


  1. "What is Gore-Tex Fabric: Properties, How its Made and Where". Sewport. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  2. "Waterproof Breathable Fabrics - Types, Features, Applications & Trends". Camotrek | Hiking and Tactical Gear Guides, Reviews & Skills. 2020-04-07. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  3. "Waterproof Breathable Fabric". Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  4. "Fluoro Carbons, Crosslinking Agents, Carbon Fluorine Bond". Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  5. Khan, Md Iusuf; Alam, Sheikh Sha; Jannat, Fatema; Islam, Md Safiqul (2019-11-27). "Waterproof and Oil Repellent Treatments of Cotton Fabric". Journal of Textile Science and Technology. 6 (1): 59–80. doi:10.4236/jtst.2020.61006.
  6. "Repellent - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics". Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  7. "Repellent Fabric - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics". Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  8. Cai, Ronggang; Glinel, Karine; De Smet, David; Vanneste, Myriam; Mannu, Nicolas; Kartheuser, Benoît; Nysten, Bernard; Jonas, Alain M. (2018-05-09). "Environmentally Friendly Super-Water-Repellent Fabrics Prepared from Water-Based Suspensions". ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. 10 (18): 15346–15351. doi:10.1021/acsami.8b02707. ISSN 1944-8244.
  9. "Water Repellents for Textiles and Glass". Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  10. "Best Waterproof Fabrics | Uses & Applications". Retrieved 2022-10-17.