In this study, fumaric acid (FA) crosslinked carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) hydrogel (CMCF) based silver nanocomposites were coated on cotton fabric for antibacterial property for the first time. The performance of the nanocomposite treated cotton fabric was tested for different mixing times of hydrogel solution, padding times and concentrations of silver. The cotton fabrics treated with CMC hydrogel based silver nanocomposites demonstrated 99.9% reduction for both Staphylococcus aureus (Sa) and Klebsiella pneumonia (Kp). After one cycle washing processes of treated cotton fabric, there is no significant variation observed in antibacterial activity. From SEM and AFM analyses, silver particles in nano-size, homogenously distributed, were observed. The treated samples were also evaluated by tensile strength, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis, fluid absorbency properties, and whiteness index. The treatment of cotton fabric with CMCF hydrogel did not affect the whiteness considerably, but increased the absorbency values of cotton. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.