Submitted to: Journal of Engineered Fibers and Fabrics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/19/2019
Publication Date: 11/14/2019
Citation: Hron, R.J., Hinchliffe, D.J., Mattison, C.P., Condon, B.D. 2019. The effect of cotton fiber inclusion on the hard surface cleaning capacity of nonwoven substrates. Journal of Engineered Fibers and Fabrics. 14:1-13. https://doi.org/10.1177/1558925019889620.
Interpretive Summary: Hard surface disinfection in food service, clinical, or household environments can be impeded by the presence of organic contaminants such as proteins or fats. Therefore, the choice of fibers for a disinfectant applicator such as a disposable wipe requires careful examination of the material’s mechanical properties and cleaning efficiency. Greige cotton fibers represent a sustainable, biodegradable, and competitively priced raw material for use in wipes or other disinfectant applicators, but see little use in this application. Processing parameters during nonwovens fabric production were altered to produce a greige cotton wipe that repels water or is highly absorbent without the need for chemical scouring. Greige cotton fibers and wipes exhibited increased wet strength compared to other cellulose-based materials such as rayon. The greige cotton fibers also enhanced the cleaning efficiency of a wipe material compared to polyester-based wipes. The inclusion of greige cotton fibers in wipes offers improvements over currently available wipes without sacrificing strength or cleaning efficiency.
Technical Abstract: Hard surface cleaning and disinfection is critically important in environments where microbial contamination can result in the spread of food borne illnesses and infectious diseases. Successful disinfection of a hard surface can be impeded by the presence of a soil load in the form of protein, fat or other material. Fibrous materials used as applicators for surface disinfecting solutions require careful consideration to ensure the active ingredient remains efficacious. Of equal importance are the mechanical and surface properties of the applicator including tensile strength, cleaning efficiency, and absorbency. Therefore, the successful disinfection of a hard surface can be greatly enhanced by an applicator that also effectively removes organic contaminants, is strong enough to resist structural failure, and reduces water waste when a disinfecting solution is applied. The cleaning and physical properties of nonwoven applicators in the form of disposable wipes composed of cotton, rayon, polyester, and blends thereof were evaluated with several assays. Dynamic wiping assays, surface roughness, and tensile testing were conducted to compare the physical and surface properties of the wipes. The removal of organic contaminants was found to correlate with higher wipe surface roughness that increased with cellulosic fiber content. Tensile testing demonstrated the greige cotton, which has not been subjected to processing such as scouring or bleaching, had increased wet strength while rayon wipes lost significant strength when wet. Greige cotton wipes were also produced as a sustainable product with reduced absorbency that would minimize water usage and waste. The results indicated that inclusion of greige cotton fibers in wipes offers improvements over currently available wipes without sacrificing strength or cleaning efficiency.