Abstract This study reveals the exergetic assessment of exhaustion processes for textile fabrics using actual operational data. The objective of the current work is to address the effects of the exhaust method parameters on exergy destruction and consumption rates. Additionally, a case study for cotton and polyester finishing processes was performed. The process temperature and time, water inlet temperature and liquor ratio were found to be the main parameters that affect exergy destruction rates. The effects of carry-over on exergy destruction rates were also investigated. It was shown that, 23% and 50% of total exergy destruction rate were occurred by the bleaching and the washing steps for cotton finishing, respectively, while 32% of total was accounted for the dyeing step of polyester finishing. The exergy efficiency of the finishing processes was obtained to be between 4.6% and 34.8% depending on the process variables. High temperature processes had higher exergy efficiency values.