Why do wet clothes lose their elasticity?

Discussion in 'Chemistry' started by GeoffP, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Hello chemical-typings-peoples! Your old forum-friendly-type rabble-arousing Geoffing here! Geoffrey has question for yoo!

    So I was changing my youngest's diaper and he'd also soaked his pj bottoms with pee. I noticed overtly for the first time that they'd kind of lost their spring. And then it occurred to me that was true of a lot of clothes that get wet. So why is that? Covalent bonding among the water molecules, presumably?
     
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  3. hypewaders Save Changes Moderator

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    I don't know if we have to get real close, even molecular to grasp the reasons or wring them out. Capillary pressure/wicking/softening of fibers, combined with higher wet-fabric weight and higher adhesion/chafing explain why it's no fun running around in wet pjs IIRC. Fabric fibers are brought into closer proximity and made more limp by capillary/wicking action, like soggy corn flakes or long wet hair- wetting out fiber shows a direct wet blanket effect upon the coefficient of fluffic coziness.

     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2010
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  5. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    I'd expected better from the King of the Sea, particularly on a question involving water. For shame.

    Hype, are you saying that capillary pressure is retarding elasticity? I suppose this is possible, but don't the capillaries have to be more closed than this? From your link: "fiber elongation is almost linear to the stress imposed". So is water...reducing the stress imposed?
     
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  7. annabie Registered Member

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    Yeah, i don't get it either
     
  8. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    There is also the point that when wet cotton fabric allows less air to pass through the fabric, when a person moves the distribution of the air that was initially between them and the fabric is changed, this causes the fabric to then be brought close to the persons skin.

    This then generates surface tension, as the wet fabric "sticks" to the persons skin and because of the surface area, it generates friction. Friction in this case lessens mobility.

    As for Elasticity, Well Hype already pointed at the main points about the porous nature of the material.
     
  9. quantumdarkness19 Registered Member

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    I would say that wet clothes becomes heavier and have the force of gravity pulling harding on the elastic fibers stretching them out of place to the point where they no longer retain their tight shape.
     

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