100% grey cotton knitted fabric contains impurities and yellowness and needs to be prepared for processing to make it suitable for coloration and finishing. Therefore, conventionally 100% grey cotton knitted fabric undergoes a process of scouring and bleaching, which involves the use of large amounts of water and chemicals, in order to remove impurities and yellowness. Due to increased environmental awareness, pursuing a reduction of water and chemicals is a current trend in textile processing. In this study, we explore the possibility of using atmospheric pressure plasma as a dry process to treat 100% grey cotton knitted fabric (single jersey and interlock) before processing. Experimental results reveal that atmospheric pressure plasma treatment can effectively remove impurities from 100% grey cotton knitted fabrics and significantly improve its water absorption property. On the other hand, if 100% grey cotton knitted fabrics are pretreated with plasma and then undergo a normal scouring process, the treatment time is reduced. In addition, the surface morphological and chemical changes in plasma-treated fabrics were studied and compared with the conventionally treated fabrics using scanning electron microscope (SEM), Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy-attenuated total reflection (FTIR-ATR) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The decrease in carbon content, as shown in XPS, reveal the removal of surface impurities. The oxygen-to-carbon (O/C) ratios of the plasma treated knitted fabrics reveal enhanced hydrophilicity.
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