Polycarboxylic acids are of great interest to the cotton textile industry as durable press agents because they do not release substances that require mandatory monitoring. Differential scanning colorimetric (DSC), thermogravimetric (TG), and differential thermogravimetric (DTG) techniques were used to study the thermal characteristics of a series of 10 polycarboxylic acids. Samples included di-, tri-, and tetra-functional compounds some of which contained olefinic linkages, hydroxyl substituents, and cyclic structure. Thermogravimetric data at simulated fabric cure temperatures was used to assess the potential of a compound for use as a textile finishing agent. In high-temperature studies the compounds were readily distinguishable in DSC analyses. General characteristics such as increases in total heats of reactions were found to be related to the number of functional groups. These results also provided support for a mechanism for the reaction of polycarboxylic acids with cellulose through an anhydride intermediate.