AbstractUsing response surface methodology, the pretreatment conditions of kenaf fibers were optimized to improve the tensile strength of kenaf phloem insulation cotton (KPIC). The effects and interactions of three parameters—sodium hydroxide concentration (X1), soaking time (X2), and beating time (X3) —on the tensile strength of the kenaf fibers were investigated. The Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD), and thermal conductivity of the KPICs further confirmed the validity of the optimal pretreatment conditions. Sodium hydroxide concentration had the greatest effect on kenaf fibers. The maximum tensile strength of 117.6 N resulted from a sodium hydroxide concentration of 4%, soaking time of 50 h, and beating time of 12 min. As shown by FTIR and XRD, optimized pretreatment generated surface functional groups and increased the tensile strength of fibers. It has a low thermal conductivity of 0.032 W/mK. In conclusion, the pretreatment of kenaf fiber significantly improves the tensile strength of KPIC and also improves the retention rate of the chemicals used during the preparation of KPIC. As an environment friendly and renewable material, the KPIC has a great application prospect with its good thermal conductivity.