As one of the methods used to produce clothing that is soft to the touch, few methods make use of natural methods as sandwashing. Here is some background on the process of sandwashing, and how this method helps to produce garments that we love to wear.
Sandwashing is basically a garment washing process that is intended to remove any residual stiffness from the material used to make the clothing item. The aim of the sandwashing is not to produce a garment that will wrinkle easily. Rather, the focus is on ensuring that the clothing feels soft to the touch. After being treated for softness, the sandwashed garment can still undergo anti-wrinkling treatments and manage to retain the soft-brushed feel created by the treatment.
The sandwashing treatment itself originally involved the use of very fine lava rocks. A quantity of the lava rocks is placed into a container along with the finished garment. The container is then rotated, allowing the rocks to gently abrade the fibers of the garment. As the lava rocks come into contact with the material, the action gently buffs the fabric into a smooth and soft texture, resulting in a garment that always feels good against the skin, rather than feeling scratchy or irritating.
Over time, the use of rubber or silicone balls instead of lava rocks has become commonplace. Also, the range of fabrics that can receive a sandwashing treatment is much broader than in years past. Where once only natural fabrics were considered candidates for sandwashing, it is now possible to achieve the same effect with a number of different types of synthetics and blends.
Sandwashing has some other benefits as well. For instance, garments that undergo a sandwashing treatment are much less susceptible to shrinking in the wash, even if the garment is made of cotton material that was not pre-shrunk. The procedure also has produced some highly favored silk choices as well, since it leaves the silk with a subtle shehen that is less obvious than some other types of treatments.
There are those who prefer to administer a sandwashing treatment before dyeing the material, while others prefer to use sandwashing after the material has been dyed and made into a finished garment. Those who prefer to sandwash finished garments claim that the process produces a more event texture on the completed sandwashed garment, while there may be some slight irregularities if sandwashing is used on sheets of material.