Cellulose gum is a salt derived from cellulose, a sugar found in the fibres of many green plants. We use this ingredient in some of our laundry powders as an anti-redeposition agent, to help prevent dirt removed during the washing cycle from re-attaching to laundry.
Cellulose is an abundant material that forms a structural component of the cell walls of many plants. Its distinctive properties allow it to dissolve in water and swell the cell structure. Cellulose gum is produced by reacting cellulose with a form of acetic acid (a mild acid also found in vinegar). When used in laundry detergents, cellulose gum attaches to cotton fabrics and creates a negatively charged barrier against dirt particles suspended in the wash, helping to prevent them from re-attaching to laundry.
At present, cellulose gum effectively adheres to cotton and other cellulose-based fabrics, but is less effective with other synthetic fabrics. A purified form of cellulose gum is also used in many food products as a thickening agent, helping to adjust texture and improve stability in foods such as ice cream and some baked goods.
Other names: Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose, Carmellose Sodium, Carboxymethyl Cellulose (CMC)
Chemical class: Gums, Hydrophilic Colloids and Derivatives (Including salts)
Evans, P. & Evans, W.. (2007). Mechanism for the Anti-Redeposition Action of Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose with Cotton. I. Radiotracer Studies. Journal of Applied Chemistry. 17. 276 - 282. 10.1002/jctb.5010171002.