Microwave plasma treatments were applied to lightweight cotton fabric with oxygen, nitrogen, and argon at various microwave power levels and exposure times. The results showed significant effects from the type of plasma, microwave power, and treatment time on the fabric weight loss. Oxygen plasma treatment generates higher weight loss than argon plasma and nitrogen plasma. The breaking strength of the treated fabric was affected mainly by longer exposure time to the plasma. The active centers created within the cellulose macromolecules were used to initiate copolymerization reactions with the vinyl laurate monomer [CH3(CH2)10COOCHCH2]. The grafted cotton fabric showed excellent water repellency properties. Repeated home laundering of the treated cotton fabrics revealed no significant effect on the water contact angle or on the quantity of grafted vinyl laurate monomer as determined by universal attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform IR, demonstrating the good durability of the treatment that was applied. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 98: 896–902, 2005
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