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Jute Fibers: Properties, Manufacturing Process, and Good Washing of Jute Fabric

Eman is a writer and textile engineer. She obtained her bachelor's degree in textile sciences from the Faculty of Applied Arts, Egypt.

Jute Fabrics

Jute, Environmentally Friendly

Jute, Environmentally Friendly

Jute, also known as burlap and hessian cloth. Jute fiber is a long, soft, shiny, cheap, and non-toxic fiber that can be woven into strong coarse yarn. Jute is the best fiber obtained from the internal bast tissues of the plant stem. The fibers are bound together by gum materials (pectin) that maintain bundles of fibers drawn with non-fibrous tissue of jute bark. These surrounded soft tissues should be softened, dissolved, and washed so that fibers can be obtained from the trunk. This is done by soaking the stems in water that is known as retting. The optimum water temperature for retting is 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Jute fibers are 100% biodegradable and recyclable making them environmentally friendly. A hectare of jute plants consumes nearly 15 tons of carbon dioxide and releases 11 tons of oxygen. Also, jute does not generate toxic gases when burning.

Jute is an affordable natural fiber, second only to cotton in terms of the quantity produced and the diversity of fiber use.

The major jute-producing countries in the world are India, Bangladesh, China, and Thailand. India is the world's largest producer of raw jute, contributing more than 40% of global production. Bangladesh exports nearly 40% of raw fiber and about 50% of processed items. The top importers are Nepal, Nigeria, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France.

The rise of the jute industry in Dundee and the export of raw jute from the Indian subcontinent.     Dundee & The World - Exhibition London

The rise of the jute industry in Dundee and the export of raw jute from the Indian subcontinent. Dundee & The World - Exhibition London

A Brief History of Jute

Jute has been used since ancient times in Africa and Asia to provide weaving fiber from the stem and food from the leaves. The poor villagers of India used to wear clothes made of jute. Weavers used simple handlooms and hand spinning wheels. Also, Indians, especially Bengalis, used ropes and twines made of white jute for household and other uses.

A small piece of jute paper with Chinese characters written on it was discovered in Dunhuang, northwest China's Gansu Province. It is believed to have been produced during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD).

The British East India Company was the British Empire Authority delegated in India from the 17th century to the middle of the 20th century and was the first Jute trader. During the start of the 20th century, the company started trading raw jute with Dundee’s Jute Industry.

In 1793, the East India Company exported its first shipment of jute, followed by additional shipments at irregular intervals. Ultimately, a shipment found its way to Dundee, Scotland where the flax spindles were eager to see if jute could be processed mechanically.

By the 1830s, Dundee spinners learned how to spin jute yarns. The rise of the Dundee jute industry saw a corresponding increase in the production and export of raw jute from the Indian subcontinent which was the sole supplier of this commodity.

In 1855, Acland Mill was the first jute factory in India set up by British businessman George Ackland and Bengali financier Babu Bisam Sen in Rishra, Presidency of Bengal, British India (West Bengal, present-day India).

By 1869, five factories were operating. Until the mid-1880s, jute was almost entirely confined to Dundee and Calcutta.

In the 19th century, America, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Russia, and others turned to the jute industry.

By 1939, the jute industry in India had enjoyed a remarkable expansion. These mills alone have proven their ability to supply global demand. Early merchandise woven from jute in Dundee was coarse packing material. Then finer fabrics called burlap, or Hessian (as is known in India) has been produced.

In 1947 after the fall of the British Empire in India, most jute barons began to evacuate India, leaving behind the industrial setting of the jute industry.

Adamjee Jute Mills

Adamjee Jute Mills 1953.

Adamjee Jute Mills 1953.

After that, several groups of Pakistani families (mostly from western Pakistan) entered the jute trade by establishing several jute factories in Narayanganj in eastern Pakistan at the time.

After the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, most of the Pakistani jute mills were taken over by the Bangladeshi government. Then, to control these jute mills in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh government established the Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC).

The world jute trade decreased significantly by 1975 due to the emergence of synthetic fibers.

Types of Jute Fibers

White Jute

The White Raw Jute originated in the lands of India's poorest regions, has been used for centuries in the manufacture of clothing for farmers and villagers. Currently, it has many uses such as making yarn, twin yarn, and ropes.

Tossa Jute

Tossa Raw Jute is grown in India where suitable climatic conditions. This type of jute is the most common. Raw Tossa has a more silky texture and has more strength than White Raw Jute. Due to its extra-strong, it is used to make environmental shopping bags, burlap bags, and clothes.

Mesta Jute

Mesta Jute is a blend of raw white jute and Mesta plant. Mesta is classified into many different parts such as Mesta top, Mesta mid, and Mesta bottom. Since 1947, Mesta has become very important and has contributed towards many jute bag companies because it is able to grow in areas where the climate is not suitable for White Jute or Tossa Jute.

Jute Cutting

Jute cutting is the lowest type of jute. It is a mixture of jute remains of other grades. Many Jute Bag companies use these parts to manufacture other products such as paper, bags, ropes, and many other jute products.

Microstructure of Jute Fiber

Jute fibers consist mainly of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin.

Jute fibers consist mainly of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin.


Cellulose contains 44.4% carbon, 6.2% hydrogen and 49.4% oxygen. Cellulose is a linear polymer of Anhydroglucose units bound in positions 1 and 4 by β-glucoside bonds. The terminal glucose residue of the cellulose molecule has two different end groups: one that has a reducing Hemiacetal group at position C1, and therefore known as a reduced-end group, while the other group contains an additional secondary hydroxyl group at position C4 known as a non-abbreviated end group. There are two subgroups and primary alcoholic hydroxyl groups in each basic anhydro-d-glucose unit (C6H10O5) n, arranged at positions 2, 3, and 6, respectively, on the base unit.


The primary hydroxyl of the cellulose primary units is responsible for absorbability and dyeability. A high hydroxyl content of cellulose indicates high water solubility. This is due to the rigidity of the chains and the hydrogen bonding between the hydroxyl groups of adjacent chains. In addition to hydrogen bonding, there is another type of bond called a “semi acetal linkage” between the molecules of the chain adjacent to cellulose.

From the x-ray diffraction diagram, it was concluded that cellulose has two regions: crystalline and amorphous. In the amorphous region, polymer chains tend to fold up; accordingly, they will have properties different from the crystalline region. This bonding between crystalline and amorphous regions enhances the strength of the polymer.


A hemicellulose is a group of sugars in the cell wall. It is dissolved in dilute alkali and hydrolyzed to pentose and hexose with some Uronic acid.

Xylose associated with methyluronic acid has been shown to be the basic building unit of hemicellulose in jute where six Xylose units were linked with 1-methyl Glucuronic acid units.

Hemicellulose is a short-chain compound and therefore occupies longitudinally the same area of anhydroglucose unit in the cellulose chain.


Lignin is an amorphous polymeric gummy material with an average high molecular weight. Lignin is insoluble. It is built of phenyl propane (C9H10S2) building blocks, often having a hydroxyl group in the para position and methoxyl groups in Meta positions to the side chain. There may be carbon-to-carbon or carbon-to-oxygen bonds linkage the aromatic ring to the portions of the structure.

Jute Fibers


Properties of Jute Fibers

1. Physical Properties

  • Dimensional stability of jute: Average good.
  • Jute color: Jute fibers can be white, yellow, brown, gray, or golden.
  • Jute fiber length: 150 to 300 cm.
  • Elongation: 1.7% at the break.
  • Flexibility: Bad.
  • Specific gravity: 1.48.
  • Jute strength: 3 to 5g/den.
  • Moisture regain: 13.75% (standard).

2. Chemical Properties

  • Alkali Effect: Diluted alkalis have no effect on jute fibers, but strong alkali at boiling causes a loss of strength.
  • Acid effect: A strong acid during boiling causes hydro cellulose leading to a loss of strength but dilute acid has no effect on jute fibers.
  • Bleaching effect: Jute fibers are not affected by the oxidizing and reducing agent.
  • Effect of organic solvent: Jute is a good resistance to organic solvent.
  • Sunlight Effect: As lignin is present in jute fibers, it may be damaged by sunlight.
  • Effect of microorganisms: Jute has resistance to microbiological attacks.
  • Dye ability: Jute fibers have a good ability for basic dye.

Jute Field

Jute Field in Bangladesh

Jute Field in Bangladesh

Cultivation of Jute

A jute crop requires a humid climate. The minimum rainfall required for jute cultivation is 1000 mm. New, deep-grey alluvial soils that receive silt from annual floods are more suitable for jute growth. Also, jute is widely grown in sandy and clay soils.

Jute is usually grown from March to May depending on the nature of the land and the state of the atmosphere. About 90 to 100 days when jute plants reach the desired height from 8 to 12 feet, they are cut close to the ground. The stems are then made into bundles and left in the field for 3 to 4 days.

The bundles are then submerged in water for retting, approximately 3 weeks. During this period, the fibers separate from the stem of the plant and are manually assembled. These fibers are thoroughly washed with clean water, dried under the sun, and converted into bundles.

Jute Manufacturing Process Stages


Manufacturing Process of Jute

Selection Process

In the selection process, raw jute bales are opened to detect any defect and to remove the defective part by workers.

The bales are classified according to usage.

Batch & Batching

A batch is a number of jute bales chosen for the purpose of manufacturing a specific type of yarn. The main purpose of the batching is to add oil and water to make jute fibers flexible, and smooth.


Two methods are used for softening; softening machine and a jute good spreader. An emulsion plant with a jute softener machine is used to soften the bark and gummy raw jute. The emulsion plant consists of a gear pump, motor, jet sprayer, nozzles, and an emulsion tank. After this process, the jute becomes soft and suitable for carding.

Conditioning and Breaking

Conditioning refers to the resting stage in which jute is given after using water and oil. The main task of the pile breaker is to break the pile and present it to the carding machines.

Diagram of Finisher Carding Machine



In this process, long jute reeds pass through high speed pinned roller and broken down into an entangled mass and delivered in the form of ribbon uniform weight per unit length.

Jute goes through three stages: breaker carding, inner carding, finisher carding.

Breaker carding: Root cutting is necessary before feeding jute for a manual feed breaker machine. In this process, jute is softened after being accumulated by hand-feeding with an appropriate weight.

The finisher carding machine: This machine makes the sliver more uniform and regular in length and weight obtained from the Breaker carding machine. The Finisher carding machine is similar to the Breaker carding machine but it has more pairs of rollers, staves, pinning arrangement, and speed. Approximately 4 to 12 slivers obtained from the Breaker carding machine are fed on the finisher machine.

Drawing Frame



Drawing is a process to reduce the width and thickness of the silver by mixing 4 to 6 silvers simultaneously. There are three types of Frame Drawing machines:

First Drawing Machine:

The first drawing frame machine makes sliver equalization and doubling two silvers or more while providing a level of quality and color. The silvers obtained from the finisher carding machine are fed with four silvers to the first drawing frame machine. This machine includes the pressing pulley, the delivery pulley, retaining roller, faller screw sliders, spring inspection, rear spring, creasing box.

Second Drawing Machine:

The second frame drawing machine gets the silver from the first drawing machine and uses six silvers and deliveries for each head. The second drawing machine makes silver more uniform and reduces jute to a suitable size for the third drawing machine.

The Third Drawing Machine:

The third high-speed drawing machine makes silver more creasing and suitable for spinning.


The jute spinning machine is equipped with a fast pulling area and is able to produce high-quality yarns with high efficiency with automatic disposal arrangements as well.


The finishing process of jute spinning includes:


There are two types of winding:

  • Spool Winding: The spool winding machine consists of a number of spindles and its productivity depends on spindle surface speed.
  • Cop Winding: The spinning bobbins are placed on the appropriate pin on top of the cop machine. The yarn on the bobbins transformed into a hollow cylindrical bundle said to be a cop. Cop winding machines consist of 120 spindles.


In this process, yarn is wounded over a beam of suitable width and number of edges to weave the jute fabric. To increase the quality of the woven fabric, the yarns are coated with starch paste. Sufficient humidity is necessary for this process.


Weaving is the process of entanglement of two series of threads called warp threads and weft threads to produce the required quality fabric.


In this manual process, the rolled woven cloth is unrolled and water is sprayed on it continuously to obtain the required moisture. Every roll is 95.976 meters.


This process is similar to ironing. The wet fabric goes through heavy pairs of cylinders, flattening the threads of the fabric and improving its appearance.


Cutting is the process by which the sacking cloth is cut to the length required to make bags of different sizes.


In this process, the raw edges of bags cloth cut pieces are appeared by folding them with the sewing machine. There are two types of sewing:

  • Heracles Sewing:

In Heracles sewing, the sides of sacking cloth cut pieces are appeared to make a complete bag.

  • Safety Sewing:

In safety sewing, the sides of sacking that were shown at the time of Heracles sewing are again stitched to enhance the strength of the edge of the bags.


Bale or bags clothes are pressed according to the buyer's need.

Natural Jute Purlap


Jute Uses

The main manufactured products of jute fibers are yarn, hessian, and carpet backing cloth. Fiber is woven into curtains, chair covers, and rugs. The finest yarns can be separated and manufactured into imitated silk. Jute can also be mixed with wool. By treating jute with caustic soda, curls, smoothness, elasticity, and appearance are improved, which helps to be spun with wool.

Jute is widely used as a substitute for wood in the paper industry.

Jute products also include cosmetics, medicines, and paints.

Good Washing of Jute Fabric

  1. Burlap must be washed alone because the fibers can be shed. These fibers are difficult to remove from other fabrics.
  2. You can wash the jute fabrics by hand separately in cold water, using a gentle soap.
  3. If you have to deal with tough stains, you can use an oxygen-based stain remover for a few minutes.
  4. Do not twist wet fabric because jute fabrics can be brittle.
  5. Burlap should be air dried as well as away from direct sunlight because jute color can be changed by harsh sunlight.
  6. The ironing should be done while the burlap is still wet. Before ironing, stretch the wet fabric to its natural size and shape. Use a low heat temperature for the ironing. Iron the jute item on the wrong side to preserve the natural weave.


© 2020 Eman Abdallah Kamel


Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on February 28, 2020:

Thanks, DredCuan, for reading the article and comment. You are right, jute is the best choice for many, especially after raising awareness of these fibers.

Travel Chef from Manila on February 28, 2020:

Thank you for sharing such a very informative article about jute fibers. In most places, this kind of vegetable fiber is one of the best choice for woven materials.

Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on January 24, 2020:

Thanks a lot, Linda for this comment. I am really glad that you liked the article. I think everything that is natural around us deserves study and research. I hope my writing about jute fibers, including all the details of the fabric, will be useful for everyone who reads it.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 23, 2020:

Thank you for sharing your extensive knowledge about jute in such a detailed article. I'm familiar with the fabric, but not with how it's made or its chemical makeup. This is a very informative article!

Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on January 23, 2020:

You are right, Liz. There is a global call back to nature, including the manufacture and use of natural materials instead of synthetic ones.

Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on January 23, 2020:

It is my pleasure, Linda. Jute is a stylish, durable, and natural material. Thanks for reading the article and comment.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on January 23, 2020:

This article is extremely informative! I didn't know about the species of jute plants. I also didn't realize that burlap was from jute. I have a large jute area rug that I bought a number of years ago. It still looks great and it has become soft underfoot.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 23, 2020:

That's interesting to know, especially at a time when we are all becoming so much more environmentally conscious.

Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on January 23, 2020:

Thanks, Liz, for reading the article and comment. Jute is recyclable where enzymatic treatment of jute wastes using pulpzyme was studied. The jute wastes from the carpet-production factories were used as a model. The products obtained from the enzymatic process using pulpzyme are suitable raw materials for paper-making processes.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 23, 2020:

This is a very detailed and interesting article about jute. I had not thought of its recycling capabilities before.

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