Delamination Of Fabrics

An article by Howard Duffy on the different types on bonded and laminated fabrics and the problems that can occur when drycleaning them.

Bonded fabric—a layered structure wherein a face or shell fabric is joined to a backing fabric, such as tricot (a knit fabric), with an adhesive that does not significantly add to the thickness of the combined fabric.”

“Laminated fabric—a layered structure wherein a face or outer fabric is joined to a continuous sheet material, such as polyurethane foam, in such a way that the identity of the continuous sheet material is retained, whether by the flame method or by an adhesive, and this in turn, normally, but not always, is joined on the back with a backing fabric such as tricot (a knit fabric).”

Laminated fabrics made by the foam flame method are passed under a gas flame until the foam becomes tacky. In fabrics made by this method, the foam acts as the adhesive agent.


  • Costs less than double–woven or double–knit fabrics.
  • Provides warmth without weight.
  • Gives lightweight fabrics more body.
  • Gives an unstable fabric more stability.
  • Less costly fabrics are upgraded.


  • Uneven shrinkage of the outer fabric of the backing fabric.
  • May be bonded off-grain.
  • May delaminate.
  • Darts and hems can be stiff.
  • Will not hold sharp creases.

Coats with foam backings should be checked at the counter for deterioration of the foam layer due to age. Care labels should be checked carefully.

If drycleaning is the recommended care, in order to minimize the potential for shrinkage, use a short cleaning cycle of five to six minutes with no moisture, and tumble dry low at 120° F. If small areas of separation occur on a bonded fabric due to spotting, this can sometimes be overcome by pressing on a utility press. Use minimum steam and head pressure, and vacuum dry. If this method causes damage to the surface finish of the fabric, or causes seam impressions, press firmly with a hand iron, lightly steam, and vacuum dry. When drastic or general separation of the bond occurs as the result of the failure of the bond to resist the cleaning method recommended, usually no restoration is possible.

Identification and Uses

Bonded Fabrics: The face and backing fabrics are held together with an adhesive. The fabric will look different on the back than on the front. The backing fabric is often a tricot knit. Can be in many weights. Used in garments, upholstery, and drapery fabrics.

Laminated Fabrics: Have an outer face fabric, a recognizable foam layer, and sometimes a tricot knit backing fabric. Used for upholstery and coats.

Problems and Responsibility

  • Shrinkage of the outer fabric or the backing fabric resulting in a blistered or puckered look. Shrinkage can be progressive from one or more cleanings. In order to control shrinkage, the manufacturer needs to make sure that all component materials have been properly stabilized to withstand the care procedures recommended on the label.
  • Separation of the outer and backing fabrics resulting in general rippled or unfinished look. This can be the result of poor bonding of the fabrics. Adequate bonding methods are available so items made from bonded fabrics will withstand repeated cleanings as recommended on the care label. The manufacturer is responsible for improperly bonded fabrics.
  • Deterioration of the foam layer. The foam may badly deteriorate and begin to crumble. The foam deteriorates with age. After cleaning, the foam layer which has already deteriorated, can no longer support the outer fabric. The manufacturer is responsible for improperly laminated fabrics. If the garment has exceeded its life expectancy, and the foam has deteriorated with age, there is no recourse with the manufacturer.


  • Mechanical: Use appropriate precautions when using brushes, bone spatulas, or steam guns for the fabric structure of the face fabric. Use light tamping only.
  • Spray: Spray spotting with agents containing both dry–and wetside agents can cause localized weakening of the bonds resulting in separation. It is best to spot these garments on the spotting board. Remove all agents and flush and dry.
  • Dryside: Dryside spotting agents are more likely to affect the adhesives used to hold the fabrics together. Test first before using volatile dry solvent, oily–type paint removers, amyl acetate, or acetone. If safe, use in small amounts. Be sure to flush oily–type paint remover with volatile dry solvent or perc thoroughly from the fabric.
  • Wetside: When using steam or spotting agents containing moisture on bonded or laminated items with drycleaning care instructions, use only a minimal amount of moisture to help prevent possible shrinkage of the face or backing fabrics. Dry completely before cleaning

The DIA recently had a member asking about damage to a high-end dress after the dry cleaning process.

Neither the dry cleaner nor the customer had realised that the problem was in fact a delamination of the fabrics and was attributed to a manufacturing fault thus saving the dry cleaner a substantial claim.