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Acid Damage on Cellulose Fibers

Cellulose FibersDLI’s Garment/Textile Analysis Laboratory has seen holes in garments that contain cellulose fibers, such as cotton, rayon, linen, and ramie. The fabric is locally weak. Usually, some discoloration is found around the holes. The pH indicators also show the presence of acid in the damaged areas.
Cellulose fibers can be degraded by acid. Hydrocellulose is formed when an acidic agent remains on the cellulose fabric for a prolonged period of time. Hydrocellulose is a weak form of cellulose fibers.

Mineral acid, such as sulfuric, nitric, or hydrochloric acid, can degrade cellulose fibers. These acids are found in many common places. Sulfuric acid is found in storage batteries. Hydrochloric acid is found in soldering and cleaning metals, bricks, and masonry. Even foods and beverages, such as grapefruit juice, lemon juice, orange juice, and tomato juice can weaken cellulose fibers because of their acidic nature.

In many cases, the damage to cellulose fibers is not visible before cleaning, but the normal agitation of the cleaning process will cause already weakened fibers to separate and create a visible hole or tear. Drycleaning or washing is a total immersion process that subjects the entire item to the same treatment and cannot cause local damage.
Posted By Harry Kimmel | 12/1/2016 12:45:56 PM