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Yellowing and Loss of Body and Luster

Q: Many times on white or pastel linen or cotton garments I notice a general yellowing after cleaning. I then wetclean many of these with no results. My ultra-violet light does not indicate any brightener or fluorescent dye breakdown. What could this be?

A: Many cellulose fabrics, such as rayon, cotton, linen, and ramie, are soft by nature, so they are usually sized by finishes that impart body and luster. Often, these sizings will oxidize with age and begin to discolor. A variety of chemical finishes are used in manufacturing to achieve the desired shade, drape, and sheen.

Some of these chemical sizings and starches tend to absorb oxygen and atmospheric gases from the air over time and thus turn yellow. Objectionable discoloration can occur rapidly on some fabrics, while others turn yellow only after prolonged use and storage. However, the heat of drying and/or steam finishing after cleaning can accelerate this type of oxidation of the finish, so the shade change may be more noticeable after cleaning.

Unfortunately, in a case of oxidation of sizing, there is usually no safe and effective method of restoration.

Caption: This item shows the breakdown of fluorescent whitening agents.

Posted By Harry Kimmel | 3/15/2016 10:34:24 AM