Greige cotton (GC) has attracted interest in recent years as an eco-friendly, functional fiber for use in nonwoven topsheet materials. GC imparts favorable fluid management and sensorial properties associated with urinary liquid transport and indices related to comfort in wearable incontinence nonwovens. Nonwoven GC has material surface polarity, an ambient moisture content, and a lipid/polysaccharide matrix that imparts positive fluid mechanic properties applicable to incontinence management topsheet materials. However, a better understanding of the connection between functionality and compositional aspects of molecular, mechanical, and material property relations is still required to employ structure/function relations beyond a priori design. Thus, this study focuses on the relation of key indices of material fluid and sensorial functions to nonwoven topsheet composition. Greige cotton, polypropylene, bleached cotton, and polyester fiber blends were hydroentangled at 60, 80, and 100 bar. Greige cotton polypropylene and bleached cotton were blended at ratios to balance surface polarity, whereas low percentages of polyester were added to confer whiteness properties. Electrokinetic and contact angle measurements were obtained for the hydroentangled nonwovens to assess surface polarity in light of material composition. Notably, materials demonstrated a relation of hydrophobicity to swelling as determined electrokinetically by Δζ, ζplateau
, and contact angles greater than 90°. Subsequently, three blended nonwoven fabrics were selected to assess effects on fluid management properties including topsheet performance indices of rewet, strikethrough, and fluid handling (rate and efficiency of transport to the absorbent core). These materials aligned well with commercial topsheet fluid mechanics. Using the Leeds University Fabric Handle Evaluation System (LUFHES), the nonwovens were tested for total fabric hand. The results of the LUFHES measurements are discussed in light of fiber contributions. Fiber ratios were found to correlate well with improvement in softness, flexibility, and formability. This study provides insights that improves the understanding of the multifunctional properties accessible with greige cotton toward decisions valuable to selecting greige cotton as an environmentally friendly fiber for nonwoven topsheets.
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