In aqueous cleaning unwanted soil is removed from a textile substrate. For aqueous clean- ing to be effective, the removed soil must be held in suspension and prevented from rede- positing on the textile’s cleaned surface.

This paper reviews literature pertaining to the ability of wash bath additives to remove soil and prevent soil redeposition. The paper discusses the function of anionic and non-ionic surfactants and the use of the soil anti-redeposition agent, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose (SCMC) in textile conservation.

The effectiveness of using anionic, non-ionic and mixed surfactant systems in the presence and absence of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose was experimentally determined. A series of cotton, wool, silk and polyester standard soiled fabrics samples were cleaned under conditions relating to conservation use. To determine the quantity of soil removed and soil re- deposited the reflectance values of the fabric samples were measured using a Varian Series 634 spectrophotometer.

The results find wool and silk are successfully cleaned using a non-ionic surfactant while cotton and polyester are effectively cleaned using a mixed surfactant system. The addition of SCMC to each wash bath increased the amount of soil removed and prevented redeposition on cotton, was of little benefit to wool, and marginally improved the cleaning of silk and polyester. The paper postulates that SCMC may in fact be a superfluous agent when used with anionic surfactants but of some benefit to non-ionic surfactants.

2006 Textiles Symposium, Adelaide
Paper author:
Jane Wild