Successful substitution of chemicals depends a lot on the process, materials used and numerous other individual conditions. What works for your business might not do the trick for someone else. Nevertheless, some chemicals have a good track record being replaced with certain substances and this might be a good place for you to start your substitution work.

So called “Positive lists” or “White lists” have been developed by several different chemical  suppliers to the textile industry in order to meet their clients requirements for safer chemicals. Communicating such positive lists to your suppliers is indeed a good starting point and a way to more easily make the shift to safer chemicals.

However, you should keep in mind that all positive lists refer to a limited and specific set of chemicals only and for any other problematic substance groups NOT covered by the positive list in question, other means must be taken to assure they fulfil your product requirements.

Most used positive lists for the textile industry refer to the eleven substance groups targeted by the group of companies in the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) Group. A selection of such lists can be found at these companies websites (external links):

ARCHROMA (pdf) Huntsman (pdf)
BASF (pdf) Rudolf (pdf)
CHT R. BEITLICH/BEZEMA (pdf) Transfar (pdf)
DyStar (pdf)

N.B. The responsibility for accuracy with regard to actual adherence to the ZDHC criteria lies with the company in question and has not been verified.

If you are only considering replacing a hazardous substance with a safer alternative, you may be overlooking several other viable options. To swap one chemical for another might not always be the ultimate solution, instead you can ask yourself if the function (water repellent, for example) of the chemical you want substitute is really needed in your product. You can read more about substitution in our starters guide and in the success stories from other companies.

Still there are substances that have been successfully swapped for others in different parts of textile production. Have a look.

Click the production process you want to know more about:


Scouring Possible substitution
Acid Hydrogen peroxide and enzymes
alkylphenol ethoxylates TSP, NaOH Fatty alcohol ethoxylates, Sodium carbonate
Alkyl benzene sulphonates Fatty alkyl sulphates, Polyglycolether
NTA, EDTA Zeolites (sodium aluminium Silicate)


Chemical Possible substitution
Reductive sulphur bleaches Peroxide bleaches
Chlorine compounds Peroxide bleaches


Chemical Possible substitution
Benzidine based dyestuffs and other amine releasing dyes Mineral/pigment dyes
Dichromate used for oxidation in vat and sulphur dyes Peroxide, air oxygen, metal free agents
Acetic acid in the dyeing bath Formic acid
Dispersants for dyes and chemicals Water based system
Copper sulphate used to treat direct dyes Polymeric compounds
Dye Powder in automatic injection Liquid dyes
Sodium hydrosulphite Stabilised Sodium hydrosulphite
Aldehyde and toxic metallic salts used as auxiliaries High molecular weight polymeric auxiliaries
Sodium sulphide Glucose based reducing agents


Chemical Possible substitution
Kerosene or white spirit Water based systems


Chemical Possible substitution
Formaldehyde Polycarboxylic acids
Alkylphenol Fatty alcohol ethyoxylates
dimethylol dihydroxyethylene urea Polycarboxylic acids
MAC complexing agents like DTDMAC, DSDMAC, DHTDMAC Cellulase enzymes

Flame retarding

Chemical Possible substitution
Asbestos, Halogenated compounds and heavy metals compounds Inorganic salts and non-halogenated phosphonates


Chemical Possible substitution
Biocides such as chlorinated phenols (PCP), metallic salts (As, Zn, Cu or Hg), DDE, DDT, Benzothiazole UV treatment, mechanical or enzymatic finishing

A number of dyes and pigments are know to be problematic, here you can find drop-in substitutes for some of them:

Acid Dyes

Toxic Acid dye name and CI number Possible alternative Acid dye name and CI number
Acid Orange 45, CI 22195 Acid Orange 1914690
Acid Red 4, CI 14710 Acid Red 157, CI 17990
Acid Red 5, CI 14905 Acid Red 191, CI 14730
Acid Red 24, CI 16140 Acid Red, CI 17900
Acid Red 26, CI 16150 Acid Red 24785
Acid Red 115, CI 27200 Acid Red 37, CI 17045
Acid Violet 49, CI 42640 Acid Violet 72, CI 42665
Acid Violet 12, CI 18075 Acid Violet 13, CI 16640
Acid Black 94, CI 30336 Acid Black 24, CI 26370

Direct Dyes

Toxic Direct dye name and CI number Possible alternative Direct dye name and CI number
Direct Yellow 48, CI 23660 Direct Yellow 15
Direct Orange 8, CI 22130 Direct Orange 102, CI 29156
Direct Red 2, CI 23900 Direct Red 81, CI 28160
Direct Red 10, CI 22145 Direct Red 120, CI 25275
Direct Red 24, CI 29185 Direct Red 23, CI 9160
Direct Red 46, CI 23050 Direct Red 31, CI 29100
Direct Red 62, CI 29175 Direct Red 4, CI 29165
Direct Violet 1, CI 22570 Direct Violet 66, CI 29120
Direct Brown 2, CI 22311 Direct Brown 112, CI 29166
Direct Black 29, CI 22580 Direct Black 51, CI 27720

Disperse Dyes

Toxic Disperse dye name and CI number Possible alternative Disperse dye name and CI number
Disperse Yellow 7, CI 23660 Disperse Yellow 15
Disperse Yellow 23, CI 22130 Disperse Orange 102, CI 29156
Disperse Blue 12, CI 3900 Disperse Red 81, CI 28160
Disperse Orange 50, CI 22145 Disperse Red 120, CI 25275
Disperse Yellow 24, CI 29185 Disperse Yellow 23, CI 29160
Disperse Yellow 46, CI 23050 Disperse Yellow 31, CI 29100
Disperse Yellow 62, CI 29175 Disperse Yellow 4, CI 29165
Disperse Yellow 1, CI 22570 Disperse Violet 66, CI 29120
Disperse Yellow 2, CI 22311 Disperse Yellow 112, CI 29166
Disperse Yellow 29, CI 22580 Disperse Yellow 51, CI 27720


Toxic Pigment name and CI number Possible alternative Pigment name and CI number
Pigment Orange 50, CI 20170 Pigment Orange 38
Pigment Yellow 12, CI 21090 Pigment Yellow 147, CI 12367
Pigment Yellow 13, CI 21100 Pigment, CI 60645
Pigment Yellow 63, CI 21091 Pigment Yellow 148, CI 50600
Pigment Yellow 126, CI 21101 Pigment Yellow 5, CI 11660
Pigment Red 39, CI 21080 Pigment Red 87, CI 73310
Pigment Yellow 176, CI 21103 Pigment Yellow 101, CI 48052
Pigment Yellow 114, CI 21092 Pigment Yellow 10 12710