Submitted to: Journal of Engineered Fibers and Fabrics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/9/2011
Publication Date: 9/5/2012
Citation: Sawhney, A.P., Reynolds, M.L., Allen Jr, H.C., Slopek, R.P., Nam, S., Condon, B.D. 2012. Effect of laundering hydroentangled cotton nonwoven fabrics. Journal of Engineered Fibers and Fabrics. 7(3):103-110. Interpretive Summary: Nonwoven fabrics historically are disposable after one good use. To promote use of cotton in relatively more durable, multi-use applications, the U.S Department of Agriculture, the Agricultural Research Service, has begun a comprehensive research program in New Orleans, Louisiana, for the development of cotton-based nonwovens. Recent research conducted at the Southern Regional Research Center has demonstrated that the cotton-based nonwoven fabrics can be cost- and environment- effectively produced using pre-cleaned greige (raw) cotton. This particular study has demonstrated that certain 100% cotton nonwoven fabrics can be machine washed and dried for up to 20 cycles, while still retaining most of the fabric integrity. However, the fabrics, irrespective of their constituent fiber quality, do lose some strength especially after the first wash and particularly in the fabric’s length direction. Further research to stabilize the fabric strength and dimensions after repeated washing cycles is continuing using different approaches.
Technical Abstract: A study has been conducted to investigate, for the first time ever, the effect of household washing and drying of hydroentangled cotton nonwoven fabrics (~70 gm/m2) made with several pre-cleaned greige (raw) cottons of considerably different fiber quality characteristics, such as the micronaire, length, length uniformity, strength, etc. The study has shown that these fabrics hold their integrity reasonably well for up to 20 machine wash and dry cycles. Although the subjective appearance and hand of the washed samples appeared to be satisfactory, all the fabrics lost considerable tensile strength, especially after the first wash and particularly in the machine direction (MD) of the fabrics. A most likely reason or explanation for the loss of fabric strength is that the mechanical and hydro actions involved in the fiber processing and the fabric formation, respectively, mostly stress the constituent fibers in the machine direction. Upon aqueous washing, these stressed fibers relax, thereby releasing and thus reducing the stored energy that basically had provided the inter fiber coherence and bonding entanglements responsible for the ultimate fabric strength. Research efforts to stabilize the fabric strength and dimensions, via. fiber blending and/or chemical modifications, are continuing.