Cotton is a comfortable, natural fibre. The exact age of cotton is unknown, but evidences are found about its existence even before the birth of Christ. Currently, cotton is one of the mostly used fibres applied in a variety of products ranging from men, women and kids apparels, towels, handbags, medical and sanitary supplies, to home decor. Cotton is being admired for its virtues and is even praised as 'King Cotton' due to its cultural influence. Despite its comfort, softness, and moisture absorbing capability, cotton wrinkles very easily. The way people like to avoid wrinkles on their skin, they do not want it on their clothes either. To make cotton clothes wrinkle free it needs to be blended with other synthetic fibres like polyester. However, 100% cotton clothes are now demanded by most of the people. And time-pressed consumers crave for cotton clothing that is both comfortable, and easy to wear and care. Manufacturing 100% and wrinkle free cotton fabrics is a deceptive and complex process. Researchers are now working on the concept of manufacturing such fabrics.
Due to the increasing demand for 100% cotton fabrics, durable press finishes are being used on these clothes. Generally, cotton fibers are spun into yarn, woven into fabric, and then dyed, and the last part of the process is treating it with a 'cross-linking' resin. The applications of formaldehyde based reagents that are used to create these apparels are now creating ripples all across the globe backing up with concerns for human health and environment. Previously an organic acid called butanetetracarboxylic acid (BTCA) was used as a substitute of formaldehyde. But the high cost of BCTA prevented its applications on a commercial scale.
Researchers have come up with a technique to dye cotton fabrics to be treated with an anti-wrinkle finish and then dyed later. Currently, cotton fabrics are dyed before the anti-wrinkle treatment because, once treated, the fabric tends to repel dyes. Cotton fibre has to swell to accept the molecules of the dye, and once the fabric is heated and treated with the anti-wrinkle finish, it will not accept the dye as like an untreated fabric.
This fabric nature has placed the garment manufacturers in jeopardy, as they will have to dye the garments well in advance and hope that the colors will be in fashion for the next season. This constraint made them to have only limited stock of wrinkle free cotton garments on their racks. The new technique of the researchers allows the garments to be treated with the anti-wrinkle finish before the garment is dyed. This chemical treatment minimizes wrinkles and gives a smooth appearance to the fabrics. This does not reduce the breathability, absorbency, and comfort of the cotton fabrics. These fabrics displayed durable press performance, laundering durability and high fabric strength retention, and also prove to be cost-effective.
Technology has augmented to the development of 100% cotton garments that provide style, comfort, and also retain a just ironed appearance throughout the whole day. This modified finish will enhance the marketability of cotton garments against the synthetic fabrics. A survey states that out 62% of all the women surveyed; preferred to wear wrinkle resistant cotton clothing over the normal cotton slacks. Wrinkle free finishing, if is able to capture the market, will make ironing a faded memory, and liberate women from the rigid task of ironing.