Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #388650

Research Project: Enhanced Cotton for Value-Added Applications

Location: Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research

Title: Ascorbic acid as an adjuvant to unbleached cotton promotes antimicrobial activity in spunlace nonwovens

item Edwards, Judson - Vince
item Prevost, Nicolette
item YAGER, DORNE - Virginia Commonwealth University
item Mackin, Robert
item Santiago Cintron, Michael
item Chang, Sechin
item Condon, Brian
item DACORTA, JOSEPH - H&h Medical Corporation

Submitted to: International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2022
Publication Date: 3/25/2022
Citation: Edwards, J.V., Prevost, N.T., Yager, D., Mackin, R.T., Santiago Cintron, M., Chang, S., Condon, B.D., Dacorta, J. 2022. Ascorbic acid as an adjuvant to unbleached cotton promotes antimicrobial activity in spunlace nonwovens. International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Interpretive Summary: There is a worldwide demand for effective, safe, and economical textile fabrics that prevent thespread of infectious diseases. This is apparent from an eighteen-billion-dollar annual market for textiles that prevent the spread of microbes and viruses. Moreover, the outbreak of COVID-19 has increased that market demand. However, an issue in addressing the current need for these types of fabrics is development of a low-cost, non-toxic treatment that is safe and effective. This paper addresses the demand for improved microbe fighting textile through a low-cost treatment of cotton fabrics. The new treatment uses small amounts of vitamin C applied directly to the fabric. The treated fabric prevents growth of bacteria and viruses at the 99.99 percent level. The treatment is also ideal for manufacturing lines and streamlines the production process. The paper also demonstrates that the mechanism of antimicrobial activity is through hydrogen peroxide production. It is also shows how a process for attaching ascorbic acid to the cellulose in the fabric can be used. The process for making the new fabric is also sustainable and employs a type of domestic cotton that will boost cotton production in the United States. The paper outlines how the new cotton fabric is applicable to a wide range of textile uses including facemasks, wound dressings, hygienic wipes, and fabrics used as barriers to the spread of microbes and viruses in hospitals.

Technical Abstract: Development of affordable, effective, and environmentally friendly barrier fabrics is a current goal in antimicrobial textile development. The discovery of new routes to non-toxic naturally occurring molecules with antimicrobial activity is of interest to improve on materials that promote wound healing, hygiene, and protection against nosocomial infection. Highly cleaned and sterile unbleached cotton has constituents that produce hydrogen peroxide at levels commensurate with those that favor cell signaling in wound healing. Here we show how ascorbic acid-treated cotton finishes when formulated on spunlaced griege cotton-containing nonwovens are antimicrobial and antiviral. The mechanism of action occurs through promotion of enhanced hydrogen peroxide activity. The levels of hydrogen peroxide activity afford antimicrobial activity against gram negative and gram-positive bacteria and antiviral activity against MS2 bacteriophage. Spun bond nonwoven unbleached cotton was treated with ascorbic acid using traditional pad dry cure methods. An assessment of antibacterial and antiviral activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae and MS2 bacteriophage with an AATCC 100 test method showed 99.99 percent inhibitory activity. An approach to the covalent attachment of ascorbic to cellulose through a citric acid crosslinking chemistry is also discussed. Thus, a simple, low-cost approach to antimicrobial and antiviral cotton-based nonwovens applicable to dressings, nosocomial barrier fabrics, and face masks can be adopted by combining ascorbic acid with spun lace greige cotton nonwoven fabrics.