This article deals with cationization of cotton during mercerization and its effects on trichromatic vat dyeing. If cationization is carried out during the after-treatment, regardless of cotton pretreatment, the reaction takes place on the surface and blocks cellulose groups, subsequently resulting in uneven coloration. However, when cationization is carried out with an epihalohydrin during the mercerization process, new cellulose is formed in which the cationic compound is uniformly distributed and trapped between cellulose chains, resulting in uniform coloration after the dyeing process. The reaction time for the process during mercerization is 24 h, thus a more favorable process was researched. Based on electrokinetic analysis, it was found that 5 h was sufficient for the reaction with 3-chloro-2-hydroxypropyltrimethyl ammonium chloride (CHPTAC). The cationization of cotton contributed to the processes of vat dyeing. The change in charge upon cationization resulted in very high adsorption of vat-dye anions, indicating that ionic bonding occurred in addition to van der Waals forces. The color depth improved by more than 10 times. It should be emphasized that the colors with higher chroma and targeted color hue, especially in trichromatic dyeing, were obtained on cationized cotton, in contrast to standard cotton fabrics. The color differences obtained under the different light sources indicate the occurrence of metamerism. Considering the color fastness to laundering, vat-dyed cationized fabrics of all colors may be used in hospitals or other environments where high hygiene and oxidative bleaching are required.
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