Textile News, Apparel News, RMG News, Fashion Trends
Fashion & Retail

Use of Water Hyacinth in Sustainable Fashion

Living Life with Water Hyacinth

1The seven species of water hyacinth comprise the genus Eichhornia. With broad, thick, glossy, ovate leaves, water hyacinth may rise above the surface of the water as much as 1 meter in height. The leaves are 10–20 cm across, and float above the water surface. They have long, spongy and bulbous stalks. The feathery, freely hanging roots are purple-black. An erect stalk supports a single spike of 8-15 conspicuously attractive flowers, mostly lavender to pink in colour with six petals. When not in bloom, water hyacinth may be mistaken for frog’s-bit (Limnobium spongia).

It produces large quantities of seeds, and these are viable up to thirty years. The common water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is a vigorous grower known to double its population in two weeks…..(1
These can then be blended with polyester to make clothing and domestic textiles. E. crassipes is almost 60 per cent cellulose — a complex carbohydrate. To turn the stems into usable fibres they must undergo a series of treatments, including boiling to soften them and reduce their moisture content.

Water hyacinth can be transformed into a source of income for communities. Stems can be turned into furniture, paper and handicrafts or used to create fertilisers or biogas — gases derived from the decay of organic matter in the absence of oxygen….(2). Researchers are also studying the plant’s effective uses as a natural wastewater purifier and an indicator of the level of pollution in the water besides a natural source of fiber….(3)

Water Hyacinth as Home Textile Fiber

 2Water hyacinth fibers as raw material for the manufacture of clothing and home fabrics. Processing the fibers with polyester staples initially produced blended yarns with 20–35 percent water hyacinth component. The stalks went through a series of chemical and mechanical treatment to achieve the crimp property of wool for better processing, reduce the plant’s glue-like or gum content, and soften the fibers to make them fine and fit for knitting and weaving into apparel and other home textiles.

For a yarn count of 15 Ne suitable for apparels, blends of 80/20 and 65/35 of polyester/water hyacinth fibers were used. The same blends of polyester/water hyacinth fibers were used to get a yarn count of 10–12 Ne ideal for home textiles such as curtains, upholstery, table runners, napkins, bed cover, pillow case, and other items found at home.

Water Hyacinth, the New Organic Apparel Fiber

Scientists and researchers are always looking for new fiber sources and improved methods of sustainable processing. The goal being to provide an all natural and preferably organic fiberous material that can be used in the textile industry for the use in garments, interior decorating and upholstered goods. Water hyacinth fabric is not available on the market yet, but keeps your eyes open for this innovative step in sustainable apparel technology…… (5)

Processing Water Hyacinth into Fiber for Handicrafts

clip_image010Recover.  The stem should be at least 50 cm long and mature, as young stems produce brittle or soft fiber.
SplitThe stem is then split lengthwise.  Each slice should be at least 2.5 cm in cross-section. The pith, soft plant tissue that surrounds the hollow stem, is removed by rubbing after one day of sun drying.  Do not dry the strands for more than three days or they will become brittle.
Dry and dye.  The cut, split stems are air-dried for 4 to 6 more hours in the direct sun until stems are dry but pliable. Further drying is necessary if only colored ropes are required.

Treat and sort.  Treat dried stems & Prepare 250 g of sodium meta-bisulphite in 10 liters of water. Soak 5 kg of stems by submerging for 1 hour. Rinse the stems in room-temperature water and air dry for 1 day. Sort stems by length and cross-section so that rope and braid is more uniform.

Twist or braid.  Fiber may be either twisted or braided into ropes of different thickness depending on the crafts to be made. Before braiding, sort the strips into various lengths and thickness. For rope, twist two pieces of stem fiber into one by rolling. For braid, pass three pieces over-and-through to produce a single braided length.

Join.  Toward the end of each stem segment, the fiber tapers. Combine additional tapered ends by joining additional twisted or braided segments until the desired length is achieved. As the fibre is processed, it is rolled into loops or spools..

In case of more coarse, the rope making process is similar to that of jute rope. The finished rope is treated with sodium metabisulphite to prevent it from rotting. In Bangladesh, the rope is used by a local furniture manufacturer who winds the rope around a cane frame to produce an elegant finished product.

clip_image012Figure 1.The processing of water hyacinth fiber and the subsequent production and marketing of handicrafts by Hyacinth Crafts.


Color Use: Bright blue, pure cyan, night blue, pale blue
Yarn : Color with lake, bramble, Wedgewood

Sample Description:

  • Water fall as veil
  • Water hyacinth pattern in full dressclip_image014

Use in Fashion:

Water hyacinths (Eichornia crassipes)  could also be made into clothes for casual wear, cocktails, and long gowns.

Two fashion designers in Philippines  —Alex Buena and Rommel Del Valle—collaborated to demonstrate this and on September 18, 2009 water hyacinths made a debut in a fashion fair there that aims to advocate environmentally sound creations and promote livelihood opportunities for families living along lakes and rivers in Camarines Sur, Philippines
They were able to assemble 30 creations in just two weeks…..(6)

Achieving a level of success in using water hyacinth to dress up models ramp the catwalk, there’s still a lot of things needed to make the material become wearable for ordinary occasion.

The designers of the show used 142 yards of handloom dried water hyacinths from Buhi, Camarines Sur, harvested from Lake Buhi where they grow abundantly near its shores.

The government had mobilized some 190 weavers to provide the material for the fashion. Now, we see water hyacinths as sources of additional income to the people around the lake. We now have an emerging handicraft industry because of the discovery of their new use aside from sparing the LGU from spending limited resources to clean up water channels…..(8)

The fashion designer or fashion concerns of our country are doing a lot of work with water hyacinth. They organized fashion show in different country to enhance the use of water hyacinth in our country in our world. They think that it will be a potential natural resource that works as an ambassador of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has given the Bangladeshi weavers and artisans a golden opportunity to utilize their considerable skills and talents to achieve economic survival and to build towards a prosperous future & promoting Bangladeshi fabrics and handicrafts for domestic and international markets under the slogans ‘Fashion for Development and Positive Bangladesh’….(10)


The Mennonite Central Committee of Bangladesh has been experimenting with paper production from water hyacinth for some years. They have established two projects that make paper from water hyacinth stems. The water hyacinth fibre alone does not make a particularly good paper but when the fibre is blended with waste paper or jute the result is good. The pulp is dosed with bleaching powder, calcium carbonate and sodium carbonate before being heated. The first project is quite large with 120 producers involved in paper manufacture. The equipment for pulping is relatively sophisticated and the end product is of reasonable quality. The second project involves 25 – 30 people and uses a modified rice mill to produce pulp. The quality of the paper is low and is used for making folders, boxes, etc. Similar small-scale cottage industry papermaking projects have been successful in a number of countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia, and India.

Fiber Board

Another application of water hyacinth is the production of fibreboards for a variety of end uses. The House and Building Research Institute in Dhaka has carried out experimental work on the production of fibre boards from water hyacinth fibre and other indigenous materials. They have developed a locally manufactured production plant for producing fibreboard for general-purpose use and also a bituminised board for use as a low cost roofing material. The physical properties of the board are sufficiently good for use on indoor partition walls and ceilings. Investigations into the use of bitumen coated boards for roofing are underway.
The key to a good product is to ensure that the stalks are properly dried before being used. If the stalks still contain moisture then this can cause the product to rot quite quickly.

Phytoremediation of Textile Process Effluent by Using Water hyacinth

Phytoremediation is an efficient and economical method of contaminant removal without further damaging the environment. Once removed, the metals can be re-extracted for proper disposal or possibly for reuse. This laboratory exercise introduces phytoremediation as a solution to a real-world problem pertinent to the students’ lives …(12). Specifically, it demonstrates how an aquatic plant can effectively remove zinc from a solution.

clip_image020Figure 2. Water hyacinth plant in 2 liters of a zinc solution.

In a present investigation phytoremediation of textile process effluent by using water hyacinth has been carried out in the studying reduction of COD and metals from textile process effluent. It has been observed that there is a reduction of 80% in COD and about 25 to 45% reduction in metals after 18 days period……(13)

In studies where the ability of the water hyacinth to remove lead, cadmium, and mercury was tested, the plant removed approximately 65 per cent of lead, 50 per cent of cadmium, and 65 per cent of mercury from water polluted with 10 ppm of lead and 1 ppm of mercury and cadmium . One hectare of water hyacinth plants is potentially capable of removing 160 kg of phenol per 72 hectares from water polluted with this chemical . Combinations of microorganisms with water hyacinths must be seriously considered in developing filtration systems for removing toxic trace chemicals, such as heavy metals and carcinogenic materials….(14)

Other uses of Water Hyacinth

The results of several studies show plants such as the water hyacinth use appreciable amounts of the inorganic forms of nitrogen and phosphorus found in domestic sewage. Because inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus are accumulated to a large extent in the roots (roots represent 20 per cent of the wet weight of the plants), this quality signifies a second possible use for the water hyacinth as ‘compost’, or organic fertilizer. Water hyacinth compost (total plant), however, presents a problem because the fiber is not degraded. Water hyacinth root compost has nevertheless been used with good results as a propagation medium for house plants.

Water hyacinths thrive on sewage; they absorb and digest waste water pollutants, converting sewage effluents to relatively clean water. Thus, the plants have exciting promise as a natural water purification system, which can be established at a fraction of the cost of a conventional sewage treatment facility. Water hyacinths are serving that purpose in several locales and a number of other communities are considering adoption of the technique. For maximum effectiveness, Pollution gorged water hyacinths must be harvested at intervals, but this apparent drawback offers potential for additional benefit. Harvested plants can be and are being used as fertilizer. They can also be heat treated to produce consumer energy in the form of methane gas. And if an economical way of drying the plants can be developed, they may find further utility as high protein animal feed.


2) Holia Onggo, researcher at the Research Center For Physics at the Indonesian Institute of science
3) By Arlene R. Obmerga, PTRI, September 01, 2009 (Philippines) email: arobmerga@dost.govt.ph

4) Dr. Tomboc Filipino Researchers Eye
5) Go Green Gina: Water Hyacinth, the NEW Organic Apparel Fiber.
6) Del Valle,fashion designer, NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur, Philippines
7) Buena fashion designer,NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur, Philippines
(8)Salvador Espiritu, municipal development officer of Buhi
(9)Ablan Development Project covers
10) http://www.ecofashionworld.com/Players/BIBI-RUSSEL-FOR-WE.html)
11) Salt, D. E.; Smith, R. D.; Raskin, I. Annu. Rev. Plant. Physiol. Plant Mol. Biol. 1998, 49, 643–668.
12) Kostecka, K. S. J. College Sci. Teaching 1995, 322–326.
(13) KIT’s College of Engineering Campus
14)Leonardo Lareo and Ricardo Bressani, Division of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama, Guatemala City, Guatemala.


        Water hyacinth Bag                                basket            

Water Hyacinth Pillow         picnic-hamper                Planter        tools & sofa                          

bl2_Trad_large                  5            
      coffin                           water-hyacinth- material                       flower planter

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

Latest Publications

View All