Nav: Home

Why does your cotton towel get stiff after natural drying?

March 27, 2020

The remaining "bound water" on cotton surfaces cross-link single fibers of cotton, causing hardening after natural drying, according to a new study conducted by Kao Corporation and Hokkaido University. This provides new insight into unique water behaviors on material surfaces and helps us develop better cleaning technologies.

Cotton towels often become stiff when washed without fabric softener and naturally dried, but the mechanism behind it has remained a mystery. In previous studies, the research groups at Kao Corporation suggested the involvement of bound water -- a special type of water that exhibits unique properties on the surface of materials -- for the hardening. The group proposed a theoretical model in which the bound water that remains on the surface of cotton causes cross-linking between single fibers through a process called capillary adhesion.

In the current study published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, the research group reports direct observations of the bound water on cotton surfaces, providing strong evidence for Kao's model. Joined by Ken-ichiro Murata of Hokkaido University, the group employed special analytical techniques called atomic force microscopy (AFM) and AFM-based infrared spectroscopy (AFM-IR) to investigate the bound water on cotton surfaces at the molecular level.

The AFM observations indicated the existence of a viscous substance on the cotton surface that is not cellulose, the major component of cotton. This strongly suggested viscous bound water is present there causing capillary adhesion -- a phenomenon in which liquid sandwiched between solid surfaces causes adhesion of them. In the following experiments, the AFM-IR spectra of naturally dried cotton surfaces showed two-peaks that indicate the existence of water. On the other hand, no peaks were observed after completely removing water on the cotton surface. Furthermore, the spectra, showing two clear peaks, suggested that the bound water takes two different states at the air-water interface and the water-cotton interface, respectively.

"The experiments clarified that bound water is evident on cotton surfaces and contributes to certain dynamic properties such as stiffness mediated by capillary adhesion. Also, the bound water itself manifested a unique hydrogen bonding state different from that of ordinary water," said Ken-ichiro Murata of Hokkaido University. Takako Igarashi of Kao Corporation added, "It has been thought that fabric softeners reduce friction between cotton fibers. However, our results showing the involvement of bound water in the hardening of cotton provide new insight into how fabric softeners work and can help us develop better agents, formulations and systems."
-end-


Hokkaido University

Related Cotton Articles:

HudsonAlpha plant genomics researchers surprised by cotton genome
Plant genomics researchers at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology announce the surprising results of a cotton sequencing study led by Jane Grimwood, Ph.D., and Jeremy Schmutz, who co-direct the HudsonAlpha Genome Sequencing Center (HGSC).
Picking up threads of cotton genomics
In Nature Genetics, a multi-institutional team including researchers at the US Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) has now sequenced and assembled the genomes of the five major cotton lineages.
Neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filter SARS COV-2
Both surgical and cotton masks were found to be ineffective for preventing the dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 from the coughs of patients with COVID-19.
Fungi found in cotton can decrease root knot nematode galling
Gregory Sword and colleagues at Texas A&M University inoculated cotton seeds with a diverse array of fungal isolates and tested the resulting seedlings in greenhouse trials for susceptibility to gall formation by root knot nematodes.
Why does your cotton towel get stiff after natural drying?
The remaining 'bound water' on cotton surfaces cross-link single fibers of cotton, causing hardening after natural drying, according to a new study conducted by Kao Corporation and Hokkaido University.
DNA riddle unravelled: How cells access data from 'genetic cotton reels'
With so much genetic information packed in such a tiny space, how cells access DNA when it needs it is something of a mystery.
Long-term analysis shows GM cotton no match for insects in India
In India, Bt cotton is the most widely planted cotton crop by acreage, and it is hugely controversial.
What if mysterious 'cotton candy' planets actually sport rings?
Some of the extremely low-density, 'cotton candy like' exoplanets called super-puffs may actually have rings, according to new research published in The Astronomical Journal by Carnegie's Anthony Piro and Caltech's Shreyas Vissapragada.
Benefits of integrating cover crop with broiler litter in no-till dryland cotton systems
Although most cotton is grown in floodplain soils in the Mississippi Delta region, a large amount of cotton is also grown under no-till systems on upland soils that are vulnerable to erosion and have reduced organic matter.
Implementing no-till and cover crops in Texas cotton systems
Healthy soil leads to productive and sustainable agriculture. Farmers who work with, not against, the soil can improve the resiliency of their land.
More Cotton News and Cotton Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.