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Fibers and Polymers 2008, Vol.9, No.

1, 101-106

The Effects of Mechanical Actions on Washing Efficiency

Ahjin Lee, Moon Hwo Seo, Seungdo Yang1, Joonseok Koh, and Hyungsup Kim*
Department of Textile Engineering, Konkuk University, Seoul 143-701, Korea 1 Korea Apparel Testing & Research Institute, Seoul 130-070, Korea (Received March 29, 2007; Revised October 15, 2007; Accepted October 15, 2007)
Abstract: The role of mechanical action on the washing process was studied. The experimental apparatus was designed to simulate each mechanical action such as the hydrodynamic flow action, the fabric flexing action, the abrasion action during washing process. The influence of mechanical action strongly depends on the property and attached state of each soil. The abrasion action was found as the most effective mechanical action for soil removal. Keywords: Mechanical action, Washing efficiency, Hydrodynamic flow, Flexing, Abrasion, Soil

Recently, many efforts have been made to develop ecofriendly and high energy efficiency laundry system as the quality of life is improved. To improve the washing efficiency in a laundry machine, the soiling and washing mechanism and the washing process have been studied for several decades. They revealed that the complicated effects are involved in a laundry machine and it combines many factors such as mechanical action, chemical action, temperature and time. Around 1960s, many researches were carried out to obtain a fundamental understanding of the soiling and washing mechanism. Several experimental studies were issued in series about oily soil and particulate soil under a wide variety of conditions [1-6]. William and coworkers [1,2] suggested the method for washing studies for different soiling conditions (soiling mixture oily soil and pigment) and the storage conditions of the soiled cloth (the length of time after soiling and before washing). Other researchers [3-6] presented the washing mechanism for oily soil and particulate soil according to various factors such as soil type, concentration of soil, fabric type, detergent type and temperature. The washing efficiency was expressed as a function of time under various washing conditions [7-9]. Vaughn and coworkers [7] explained the rate of soil removal as a function of the removable soil content (equation (1)). cs ln -------- = Kt c (1)

Where c: the total removable soil content of soiled sample, s: the amount of removed soil, t: time, minutes. While Loeb et al. [8] claimed that the curves for the percentage of soil removal increased linearly with the log of cumulative washing time. Kissa [9-12] examined soiling mechanism, washing mechanism and washing process in depth according to soil type such as liquid oily soil and particulate soil. After obtaining similar results as Loeb, Kissa [9] divided the soil
*Corresponding author: iconclast@konkuk.ac.kr 101

removal process into three consecutive steps depending on the slope of soil retention with log time scale. According to his research results, liquid oily soil is removed in the threestep such as an induction period, a rapid soil removal period and a final period. He also emphasized the spontaneous and mechanical works for soil removal [9]. However, K. L. Ganguli and J. van Eendenburg [13] claimed that washing process consists of two steps: loosening of soil from the textile by the combined action of detergent solution and mechanical agitation, and rinsing of the loosened soil from the textile into the bath. They also found that chemical action showed a significant effect on soil loosening. However, its effect on soil transfer is negligible, compared to mechanical action. There have been few reports about the effect of mechanical action in washing process. Most researches on washing process were carried out on the detergent and chemistries associated with washing, while the mechanical action plays an important role in washing process. According to Kissa [10], the mechanical action can be classified into three types: the hydrodynamic flow action, the flexing and the abrasion action. Although he suggested such mechanical action types, he did not carry out systematic experiments on the effect of each on the washing process. In recent research, J.C.J. van der Donck [14] studied the influence of the flow through the textile on soil removal. They found that the soil removal increased with fabric moving and water flow rate. Still, the mechanical action applied in the study did not simulate the practical mechanical action during the process. In this research, a new experimental apparatus was developed to simulate real washing process. The apparatus was designed to replicate the individual mechanical actions separately. To understand the role of mechanical action on the washing process, we studied the washing efficiency change for different action mode, soil type and time using the apparatus.

Apparatus To simulate washing process and to evaluate each mechanical


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Ahjin Lee et al.

washing action such as hydrodynamic flow, flexing and abrasion, a new apparatus was developed as shown in Figure 1. The apparatus consists of a bath, a shaker, two adjustable grips and a heater. The sample was shaken by the oscillating grip movement. In the apparatus, the various mechanical washing actions were simply classified into four types such as soaking, hydrodynamic flow, flexing and abrasion. The samples in the apparatus were shaken back and forth to simulate the washing process, while the laundry and detergent solution are agitated and dropped together in a real washing machine. The shaking speed and the bath temperature can be controlled to simulate various washing conditions. To investigate the washing action, samples were arranged as shown in Figure 1(a) and (b). Materials Soiled Fabrics EMPA 105 (artificially soiled fabric according to IEC 60456) [1] was used. Each fabric was treated with the different types of soils as follows: 1. Red wine 2. Blood 3. Carbon black/mineral oil 4. Chocolate/milk

Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the apparatus used in this study (a) arrangement for the soaking mode, the hydrodynamic flow action and the flexing action and (b) arrangement for the abrasion action.

Figure 2. SEM images of the soiled sample each soil (2000), (a) red wine, (b) pigs blood, (c) carbon black/mineral oil, and (d) chocolate/ milk.

The Effects of Mechanical Actions on Washing Efficiency Table 1. Experimental conditions Soaking (0 rpm), hydrodynamic flow (100 Mechanical action type rpm), flexing (100 rpm), abrasion (100 & operation rate rpm) Soil type Red wine, pigs blood, chocolate/milk, carbon black/mineral oil Time(min) 0 min, 15 min, 30 min, 60 min

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Washing Efficiency The reflectance of the soiled and washed sample was measured using a colorimeter (Minolta CR-300) in order to evaluate washing efficiency. Washing efficiency was calculated as follows: RW RS Washing efficiency (%)= ----------------- 100 R 0 RS where R0: reflectance of unsoiled sample, RS: reflectance of soiled sample, and RW: reflectance of washed sample. Observation of the Sample To observe the soil which exists on the surface of samples, scanning electron microscope (HITAICH, S-4700) was used. The cross-sectional images were also taken by optical microscope (iMT, PL-A642) in order to observe the soil between yarns.

Figure 2 shows the SEM image of the samples used in the study. Detergents IEC 60456 standard detergent A* was used as a washing detergent. The detergent contains basic powder with enzyme and foam inhibitor, bleach (sodium perborate tetrahydrate) and bleach activator (tetra-acetylethylenediamine). Washing Conditions Table 1 summarizes the experimental conditions in the study. Three replications of the samples were carried out for reliable statistical results. The water temperature, the concentration of detergent and the solution volume in the bath were kept constant as 45 oC, 1 g/l and 20 l, respectively. The detergent solution was agitated for enough time to be homogenous. Washing Procedure Soiled samples for soaking and flow were prepared as strips of 70120 mm2 while the sample size for flexing and abrasion was 70140 mm2. Each mechanical washing action was investigated under following conditions. Hydrodynamic Flow Action In order that detergent solution can pass through the sample without bending or deformation of the fabrics, the sample was held tightly between the two grips vertically as shown in Figure 1(a). The distance between the grips was 8 cm to keep the sample taut. The sample was moved back and forth 5 cm and the shaking speed was kept constant at 100 rpm. Fabric Flexing Action This experiment was carried out in the same way as the flow experiment except for the distance between the grips (5 cm), allowing the sample to be bent and flexed during the oscillating movement of the grips. Abrasion Action between Fabrics In order to reveal the effect of the rubbing action between the fabrics, two poles were located between the two grips as illustrated in Figure 1(b). The poles were covered with unsoiled fabrics. As a result, the sample was abraded with the unsoiled fabrics during the fabric shaking motion. Soaking To estimate the effect of the detergent on the washing efficiency, the sample held by the grips 8 cm apart was immersed in the washing bath without fabric shaking motion.

Results and Discussion

Effect of Detergent Solution Detergent has been known as an essential factor for textile washing. During washing process, detergent helps to loosen soil from textiles by physicochemical actions such as rollingup, mesomorphic phase formation and -potential effect. The loosened soils are removed from the textiles by mass transfer and diffusion. Figure 3 shows the effect of the detergent solution on the washing efficiency. The pigs blood and the red wine were removed by the detergent solution without any mechanical action, while chocolate/milk soil and the carbon black/mineral oil were not. The washing efficiency for the red wine was increased up to a certain level and then leveled off. The washing efficiency for the pigs blood was increased slowly with washing time because the blood composed of various components (lower molecular weight protein, polymer protein, fat, carbohydrate) with different

Figure 3. Effect of detergent solution.


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Ahjin Lee et al.

solubility. The carbon black/mineral oil was not removed effectively by the detergent solution. The carbon black was physically attached to the fabrics and fixed by mineral oil in inter-yarn spaces as shown in Figure 2(c). To remove particulate soils such as carbon black, mechanical actions are necessary to break the van der Waals force between the particles and the fabrics [11,12]. A large amount of the chocolate/milk soil still remained after soaking mode. It can be explained in terms of the water-insoluble ingredients like cocoa (22 % fat), sugar, cream in the chocolate/milk soil. The liposoluble soils are usually removed by rolling up and mesomorphic phase formation. The soil is loosened by rolling up during the washing process when oily soil is liquid. On the other hand, the solid oily soil which is not solubilized by the detergent solution can be loosened by mesomorphic phase formation [15]. The soil loosened by the detergent solution was transferred away from the textiles by mechanical actions. Without soil transfer, the local soil concentration near the fabric increased with the washing time. When the soil concentration reached the saturation condition, the soil on the fabric would not loosen and detach from the fabric. Effect of Hydrodynamic Flow Action Figure 4 shows the effect of hydrodynamic flow action on the washing efficiency. The hydrodynamic flow action showed similar experimental results to those from the soaking experiment. It suggests that the hydrodynamic flow action did not supply enough mechanical energy to remove the soils from the samples. Only a small amount of water passed through the sample, while a greater amount of water did not passed through the sample. Consequently, shearing was carried out on the surface of the sample by water. The hydrodynamic flow action for the chocolate/milk soil

shows different results from the soaking case. The calculated washing efficiency of the chocolate/milk soil decreased and showed ( ) values for the hydrodynamic flow action. And then the washing efficiency decreased to 0 with washing time. It can be explained for two reasons. First, a large amount of the colored and particulate ingredients such as cocoa in the chocolate/milk soil remained on the sample, while the other ingredients such as fat and protein were removed by the hydrodynamic flow action and the detergent solution. It resulted in darker color after washing. The other reason is the transfer of the soil from the inner part of the yarn to the outer layer of the yarn. In the original sample, soil was distributed uniformly through the sample and its color was bright brown as shown in Figure 5(a). After 30 minutes of the hydrodynamic flow action, the soil in the inside of the yarns migrated to the outer surface of the sample. Thereby, the surface color was changed to dark brown as shown in Figure 5(b).

Figure 4. Effect of hydrodynamic flow action.

Figure 5. Cross-section optical microscope images of the samples soiled with chocolate/milk (160), (a) original soiled sample and (b) after 30 minute flow action.

The Effects of Mechanical Actions on Washing Efficiency

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Effect of Flexing Action The flexing action was implemented in a similar way to the hydrodynamic flow action. But the distance between the grips was decreased to allow flexing action of the fabric sample. Figure 6 shows the effect of the flexing action on the washing efficiency. For all samples, the washing efficiency

increased with the washing time, although the amount of the removed soil was significantly different among the soil type. The washing efficiency of the flexing action was improved comparing with the hydrodynamic flow action especially in pigs blood and chocolate/milk soils. These results were confirmed by the SEM (Figure 7) and

Figure 6. Effect of flexing action.

Figure 8. Effect of abrasion action.

Figure 7. SEM images of the sample (2000), (a) soiled with pigs blood after 60 minute hydrodynamic flow action, (b) soiled with pigs blood after 60 minute fabric flexing action, (c) soiled with chocolate/milk after 60 minute hydrodynamic flow action, and (d) soiled with chocolate/milk after 60 minute fabric flexing action.


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the microscopic images (Figure 8). Figure 7 shows the SEM images of the pigs blood and chocolate/milk sample after 60 minute hydrodynamic flow action and flexing action. The samples after the flexing action are much cleaner than after the hydrodynamic flow action. Especially, the difference between the two actions in the case of the chocolate/milk soil was greater than the pigs blood soil. In the flexing action, mesomorphic phase formation accelerates and the detergent solution penetrates fabric easily compare to the hydrodynamic flow action. Therefore, more soil is loosened from the fabric and is released to the bath. Effect of Abrasion Action between Fabrics The abrasion effect on the washing efficiency is shown in Figure 8. The washing efficiencies for the red wine and the pigs blood were similar to the results from the other mechanical actions. The abrasion action removed the carbon black/mineral oil and the chocolate/milk successfully by the abrasion action, while the other actions did not. The washing efficiency of the carbon black/mineral oil and the chocolate/milk soils reach maximum values when the washing time was around 15 minutes and then were decreased with the time. During the washing process, the soil was detached and loosened by the detergent solution and the mechanical action. The detached soil was surrounded by the detergent and usually formed micelle structure. Some detached soil did not form stable micelle structure. It appears that unstable micelles were broken by the mechanical actions resulting in reattachment of the soil to the fabrics. As expected, the washing efficiency increased with the washing time in most cases (Figures 3, 4, 6 and 8). The washing efficiency generally leveled off with the washing time after it reached a certain value (15 minutes) indicating that most of the soil on the fabric was removed in early washing stage. The red wine and the pigs blood in the sample were easily removed by every mechanical work type and their washing efficiency showed similar results without regard to the type of mechanical action. It suggests that the washing efficiency of the water-soluble soils such as red wine and pigs blood depend on the detergent solution but is independent of the type of mechanical work. The washing efficiency of the pigs blood increased linearly with the washing time without leveling off due to the various components in the blood such as lower molecular weight protein, polymer protein, fat and carbohydrate. The water-insoluble soil was not removed effectively by detergent solution compared with the water-soluble soils, and the type of mechanical action has a significant effect on

the removal of water-insoluble soil. Washing efficiency of the three mechanical actions increased in the order the hydrodynamic flow action, the flexing action and the abrasion action.

The effect of the type of mechanical action on the washing efficiency depends mainly on the property and attached state of each soil. The removal of particulate and composite soils such as the carbon black/mineral oil, the chocolate/milk and the pigs blood shows significantly higher dependency on the mechanical action types in washing efficiency than watersoluble soil such as the red wine. Among the three mechanical action types, the abrasion action was found to be the most effective mechanical action for soil removal.

This research is financially supported by LG Electronics, South Korea.

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