AbstractThe decolourisation of reactive and cationic dyes by physical and chemical modified esparto fibers was investigated. Previously the decolourisation of reactive dyes only had been tested and optimized using untreated esparto fibers and those reinforced by zeolite. Non-treated cellulosic esparto fibers can absorb an important amount of dyes. In order to improve absorption properties of esparto fibers, chemical graft copolymerization with acrylic acid (AA), itaconic acid (IA), and a mixture of acrylamide and IA was performed using potassium persulfate as initiator. The effect of physical modification by zeolite was investigated. Reinforced zeolite esparto fibers were obtained from cellulose esparto fibers pre-treated with NaOH, and preformed zeolite powders. The IR spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, thermal behavior, as well as the surface morphology of the treated fibers were also studied. The results showed that zeolite treated esparto fibers (the first time application of this kind) are more efficient adsorbents than luffa fibers.