She Conquered Wrinkles … in Cotton Fabric

If you grabbed a cotton dress shirt out of the dryer this morning and put it on without ironing it, you probably should be thanking a chemist named Ruth Benerito. In the mid-1960s, Benerito and two colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed and patented a process for chemically cross-linking and reinforcing the chains of cellulose molecules in cotton fibers, which enabled them to stay in place under the stress of washing and wear. The “wrinkle-free” garments that manufacturers produced …