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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Controlling Shrinkage in Wool Fabrics: Effective Hydrogen Peroxide Systems

Authors
item Cardamone, Jeanette
item Yao, Jiming - VISITING SCIENTIST
item Nunez, Alberto

Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 14, 2003
Publication Date: October 1, 2004
Citation: Cardamone, J.M., Yao, J., Nunez, A. 2004. Controlling shrinkage in wool fabrics: effective hydrogen peroxide systems. Textile Research Journal. 74(10):887-898.

Interpretive Summary: Wool has limited market share because it shrinks when laundered. Shrinkage is attributed to the scales of the wool fiber that are raised above the fiber surface and interlock in the washing process when agitation and pressure are applied. We discovered that when wool fabrics were treated with hydrogen peroxide in alkaline solution with other reactants and a surfactant, either alone or followed by enzyme treatments, area shrinkage control was limited to 3% or less. These peroxide treatments not only increased wool's ability to take up water but also increased its susceptibility to subsequent modification of its chemical structure to improve other properties that limit wool's marketability.

Technical Abstract: Wool's market share is limited because of discomfort and shrinkage that is attributed to scales that project above the fiber surface. We applied alkaline hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) systems incorporating dicyandiamide, gluconic acid, and surfactants, some applications followed by enzyme treatments, to smooth the scales of wool to achieve shrinkage resistance. An H2O2, nonenzymatic system was effective for scale smoothing and resulted in relative area shrinkage of 2.95% without loss in wool's mechanical properties. When this H2O2 system was followed by enzymatic treatment with additives--polyacrylamide to restrict enzyme activity to the fiber surface and sodium sulfite to reduce disulfide linkages--1.16% area shrinkage was achieved. These systems impart greater affinity for water and electrostatic charge on the surface of wool. Wool modified with these characteristics presents possibilities for new marketable products and these facile shrinkage-resistant treatments will promote the greater marketability of wool fabrics.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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