The chemistry of the washing machine: what should you know so that your clothes are never ruined again

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What to do - and what not to do - when doing the laundry can become a hairy matter if we try to follow the instructions on the label of each garment, especially when it comes to preventing them from breathing.But what is the difference between materials that make some be washed without fear in the washing machine at home and for others you have to resort to the 'dry washing' of the dry cleaner?

Reactions, the American Branch Chemical Society branch, the main organization for chemical research in the US, has decided to address this day -to -day problem by publishing a nice video.How to avoid future fatal errors when making the cast?The answer, American experts respond, is with a quick and fun lesson of material chemistry, a "scientific wisdom" that will prevent "destroying your favorite set".

First lesson: What is the clothes we wear today?The answer is more complex than it might seem, but three large categories can be established: fibers of plant origin, of animal origin, and synthetic.Each has its own chemical composition that will respond differently to the process and the elements of washing.In addition, it is not uncommon for garments to combine fibers of various types, hence it is not more like to always throw an eye on the labeling.

Why shrinks clothes?

La química de la lavadora: qué debes saber para no arruinar nunca más tu ropa

The key, therefore, is reduced to a basic principle: how do each of these materials with water interact?Let's start with synthetic fibers: these are polymers chains, that is, linked molecules, but formed by small units called monomers.The most common is that they are derived from oil and include products that have revolutionized fashion and tissues such as nylon, polyester or propylene, frequent for example in sportswear.

One of the usual and most valued characteristics of synthetic fibers is that they are hydrophobic, that is, they resist soaking water.That is why we find them covering camping and mountaineering garments, such as goretex, or in underwear to help the perspiration of the skin by letting the moisture escape.As a general normal, these materials have no problems when washed and do not shrink significantly.But in some cases hand washing is recommended to avoid starting the waterproofing layers.

Vegetable fibers correspond to traditional tissues such as cotton and linen, and to others more popular such as hemp such as hemp.The basis of its chemical structures is cellulose, formed by long glucose molecules polymers.And they are the ones that are best understood with the house washing machine: cellulose fibers are polar and therefore hydrophilic, that is, that easily absorb water, such as the kitchen paper used to dry spill milk.

However, unlike paper, clothing of plant origin can moisten and dry, eliminating dirt in the process, without losing its fundamental properties.Why can a cotton garment spoil in washing, however?Due to temperature: heat, also during drying, can alter and deform fibers.To avoid this, manufacturers work with thread that has already undergone a heat and 'preventively shrugged treatment.

The third group, protein base fibers such as wool and silk, are a completely different story.They are composed of an internal polar trunk and apolar external sections that make them hydrophilic inside and hydrophobes on the outside.Thus, a sweater offers moderate protection when it sparkles, but if the chaparrón falls, it will be a disaster: it will penetrate inside, soak it and the coating will prevent it from filtering, watering for a long time.

This process has another effect: the deformation of the fibers, which have diminished in length when their diameter is widened.And that is the famous reason why the sweater will have shrunk or will have been evil.There is, however, wool treated specifically or mixed with synthetic fibers to resist machine washing.But for the natural one, there is no choice but to do it by hand and with a specific detergent for this tissue, because the conventional ones interact with the hydrophobic molecules and facilitate that the water transits, damaging its structure.

A low temperature, short -term and soft detergent will help reduce the stress that fibers suffer and limit damage.On the other hand, dry drywland is not included: it does not include water, indeed, but chemical substances such as perchloroethylene that penetrate animal fibers next to the detergent without damaging them.In addition, they are especially effective for coupling and deleting fat or sweat stains.The paste?That can dissolve some synthetic fibers.

Return, therefore, to look at the label: for vegetable fibers, it will be enough to follow the recommendations of washing and drying temperature;For animals, 'dry washing' is always a recommendation, but in some cases (and specifies it) it is the only option;And on the label of synthetic garments, we will be alerted that processes such as dry washing or plate are discarded flat.

[More information: these are the health hazards of holding clothes inside the house]

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