Our dyehouse

The strength of having our own dyehouse

At our dyehouse, located in Bredsten – on the outskirts of Vejle – we dye and treat our organic merino wool and cotton products without the use of harmful chemicals and heavy metals. This is something we wholeheartedly believe makes a big difference to our environment, our colleagues, and of course to you – the customer, wearing the clothing right next to your skin.

The strength of having our own dyehouse is, first and foremost, the fact that we have control over the things we produce here. What this essentially means is that our 300 employees can get a restful night’s sleep because we know exactly which dyes and chemicals, we have used for the clothing that you and your loved ones will be wearing. We also know that we have gone to great lengths to ensure a consistent and very high quality in what we do.

Nordic Swan Ecolabelled products

Today, there are very few dyehouses left in Denmark. In fact, our dyehouse is one of just two remaining dyehouses in all of Denmark – and it is also the only Danish dyehouse that dyes products certified with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, which is the official Nordic eco-label.

Making a difference for you and the environment

We are always evolving and advancing our production to make it as gentle to the environment and to you as possible. We do this because we all know that the environment is under great strain, and because the clothing we produce is often worn right next to the skin. That’s why we do not use any harmful chemicals or heavy metals at our dyehouse. That way, you and your family can wear DILLING’s products close to your skin without worrying about harsh chemicals. This also makes our clothing especially suitable for people with sensitive skin.

For our production at the dyehouse, we have carefully selected dyes that are free from harmful chemicals and are Nordic Swan Ecolabel approved. This is because we do not want to use heavy metals in our production. Heavy metals can be problematic for both the environment and to people, as they accumulate in your body and in nature. As we don’t use heavy metals at the dyehouse, there are some colours that we cannot offer: for example, bright blue and green colours and turquoise. That, however, is a choice we feel absolutely confident about. To us, the health and environmental considerations far outweigh the slightly limited colour palette available to us.

No Superwash treatment

At the dyehouse, we work with untreated wool that in no way has received the environmentally taxing Superwash treatment. Combined with our decision to forgo heavy metals at the dyehouse, this way of working with merino wool is completely unique to the industry.

Superwash is a treatment that is used to improve the wool’s washing abilities – first, by removing the itchy hairs with chlorine and then coating the fibres with a thin layer of plastic (either natural (tree resin) or artificial resin (some form of plastic)). This treatment makes the wool more resistant to sudden temperature changes and rough handling. All in all, it makes the wool fibres washing-machine friendly. Unfortunately, with this treatment a lot of chlorine (AOX) is discharged with the wastewater, which has a negative impact on the environment. The treatment also ruins a lot of the natural properties of the wool. The plastic coating impairs the wool fibres’ natural ability to insulate against the cold, regulate temperatures, and absorb moisture.

Instead, to soften the untreated merino wool fibres, we use an eco-friendly 10-hour long dye and enzyme treatment. The enzyme treatment gently removes the itchy hairs and softens the wool fibres, while leaving all the natural benefits of merino wool completely intact – so you get an extraordinarily soft, clean, and light product.

Our unique, eco-friendly dye and enzyme treatment

Treating and dyeing wool is a long process consisting of several stages. The industry standard for treating and dyeing wool is about eight hours – but our unique dye and enzyme treatment takes a total of 10 hours from start to finish. Now, from a business perspective this is a costly investment. You have probably heard the phrase time is money – and in any production flow that saying is very true. In most cases, it is about getting the product through production – from sheep to shirt – as fast as possible. However we have a different way of doing things at our dyehouse. Quality takes time. Gentle treatments take time. We wholeheartedly believe that extra time spent is absolutely worth it – so you and your family can feel good about wearing our clothes right next to your skin.

These are the core stages of our dye and enzyme treatment:

The recipe

Whenever our designer, Anna, has a new colour in mind, our dye master, Charlotte, brings her ideas to life. Before any new dye process can start, Charlotte makes a recipe – or formula – for the processing. The formula is a list of ingredients/components and a specification of how much of each component should be added to achieve the desired colour. Making the recipe requires years of experience and meticulous attention to detail.

At the dyehouse we adhere to very high standards of dyeing agents and chemicals. We use the Nordic Swan Ecolabel as a guide to select the components that go into each formula. We have chosen to be Nordic Swan Ecolabelled because they have the strictest requirements regarding the colour and treatment process.

The treatment

With the formula in place, the fabric is now ready to be treated and dyed, which is done in the same machine. Here’s a little fun fact about the dyehouse: All the machines at our dyehouse have names – there’s Emma, Alberte, Basse, Klaus, and Erik. The machines are named after former workers as well as children and grandchildren of DILLING employees.

For our merino wool products, the fabric undergoes an enzyme treatment process to remove the itchy hairs before being dyed. The enzyme treatment works by attacking peptide bonds to break down proteins. This gently removes the itchy hairs and softens the wool fibres, while leaving all the natural benefits of the merino wool completely intact – so you get an extraordinarily soft, clean, and light product.

This entire process is supervised to ensure everything goes to plan. If the fabric is left in the enzyme treatment too long, the fabric will deteriorate, because the enzymes will keep ‘eating’ at the fibres until nothing is left.

The cotton processed at the dyehouse receives a different treatment, called a BioPolish treatment. It is also an enzyme-based treatment and lasts 10 hours from start to finish. Much like the enzyme treatment used for our merino wool products, BioPolish gently removes excess pilling from the surface of the cotton.

If you are interested to learn more about treatments, click here.

The drying

Next, the wool is centrifuged, and the cotton is pressed. The fabric goes through a machine where it is air dried. This is especially important for wool, as the wool shrinks by 20-25% at this stage. It helps ensure the wool does not shrink more than 5% once it has been sewn and sent to the customer.

The material is now ready to be shipped to Lithuania, where it will be cut, sewn, packaged, and sent home to the warehouse in Herning.

How it all started

Our journey was affected by three important events that shaped the way we work with treatments of our products.

Read the whole story here.

  • 1985

    Pre shrinkage without formaldehyde

  • 1991

    Dying without harmful chemicals and heavy metals

  • 1996

    Enhancing the quality of our products

“One day, my wife, Bente, comes to me and says: Villy, it’s an expensive hobby you have.”

Villy Bertelsen, 3rd generation

Our footprint at the dyehouse

Independent tests of the wastewater from our dyehouse show that no harmful chemicals like heavy metals are discharged.

10% discount on your first order

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DILLING is a Danish family enterprise with a long tradition of producing organic wool products that will keep you warm. Today, we make organic clothing in organic merino wool and cotton for the whole family with the fourth generation, Morten Dilling, at the helm. Our organic wool wear sells at favourable prices because you are buying directly from the manufacturer.

You’ll find soft, breathable, and allergy-friendly clothing in natural materials on our website, produced without harmful chemicals and within Europe's borders under good working conditions.

Most of our products are certified with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel and gently dyed at DILLING's own dyehouse in Denmark.

You'll find DILLING's products in the following countries:  dk.dilling.comdilling.dedilling.sedilling.nldilling.fidilling.frno.dilling.com.