Solid fats are one of the most difficult stains to remove at low temperatures. Mechanical action is beneficial for stain removal, but the potential and limitations of such an essential part of washing are not known. Fabric abrasion has been studied for the first time in a systematic and controlled manner using a tribometer. The efficiency of cotton–cotton abrasion, to simulate the rubbing of clothes, was studied in the absence of detergents using models of liquid and solid oils (hexadecane, octadecane, and undecanoic acid) and real fats (lard and buttermilk fat). In model oils, abrasion is not very effective at any temperature, whereas in typical fats abrasion significantly improves cleaning in a wide range of temperatures. The different behavior is caused by the temperature-dependent solid fat content of lard and butter. Fluorescence microscopy is introduced as a novel methodology for the quantification of the fat content in soiled fabrics.
Keywords: Fabrics, Fats, Fouling, Cleaning, Fluorescence microscopy, Imaging