Antimicrobial fabric protection: improved durability and freshness

Antimicrobial fabric protection: improved durability and freshness

3.6 min readPublished On: January 7th, 2020By
3.6 min readPublished On: January 7th, 2020By
Antimicrobial Fabric Protection

For over 25 years, BioCote® has successfully integrated antimicrobial technology into a broad range of products, which includes textile applications. Whilst some textiles need to work harder than others, such as active and workwear or fabrics on car seats, the antimicrobial fabric protection benefits a wide range of fabrics for varied applications. In the following article, BioCote® chemist Ruvimbo Chitera explains the benefits of antimicrobial fabric treatment and how the technology works to improve the quality and durability of fabrics.

The need for antimicrobial fabric treatments

Whilst antimicrobial fabric treatment can protect a variety of textiles for private as well as commercial use, the application delivers the most benefits when integrated into fabrics which are more likely exposed to microorganisms such as healthcare uniforms, protective clothing in food processing environments and activewear in the sports industry.

For example, reducing the likelihood of cross-contamination within food production is both vital for long-term success and critical for achieving regulatory compliance. To meet safety requirements in the food industry, businesses in the food supply chain must pay careful attention to how work garments are worn and their compliance with hygiene standards. The same applies for healthcare settings, where antimicrobial technology works in conjunction with high-intensity laundering which aims to eliminate microbial contamination on used textiles and keep them hygienically clean.

With textiles being washed regularly, you may wonder why it is beneficial to additionally treat them with antimicrobial additives to maintain their freshness and cleanliness. One important reason is that textiles provide an excellent breeding ground for microorganisms due to their ability to retain moisture. Furthermore, the textured nature of fabrics provides “hiding places” for microorganisms and retains them within the fabrics. The growth of microbes such as bacteria can not only lead to long-term bad odour and discolouration of garments that can be hard to remove by home washing methods, but they can also cause material degradation of much loved or needed items.

Material degradation, non-removable staining and permanent odours can lead to garments being disposed of more quickly than required. A report from the European Action Plan (ECAP) highlighted, that when clothing is discarded in residual waste, it is likely that the garments will become further spoiled, torn and damaged to a point where the potential to re-use or recycle the clothing is minimal. With a strong focus on sustainability and environmental friendliness nowadays, the goal is to achieve longevity within the textile industry and get more wear out of every single piece of clothing. Integrating antimicrobial technology can help garments to live a longer, fresher and cleaner life, supporting a more sustainable approach to fashion and counteracting a throw-away society.

Bearing both the hygiene as well as sustainability aspect in mind, the capacity to create antimicrobial textiles is invaluable. This is supported by the ever-growing size of the global antimicrobial fabric market. The market size is currently expected to grow by 5.4% to $12.3 billion by 2024.

Scientifically proven technology

With the intention to address hygiene and sustainability issues, a suitable antimicrobial additive should be durable and also meet requirements of effectiveness against a broad spectrum of bacteria. Stringent efficacy testing on treated materials provides consumers with confidence that BioCote® antimicrobial additives maintain antimicrobial efficacy against a broad spectrum of microorganisms in a variety of applications for the lifetime of products.

To put the BioCote® antimicrobial technology to the test, we treated fabric with a composition of 62% polyester, 35% cotton and 3% spandex with our fabric additive. An independent laboratory tested the treated fabric against an untreated fabric using the test bacterium E. coli and employing the ASTM E2149 method to determine the antimicrobial activity of immobilised antimicrobial agents under dynamic contact conditions. As shown in the table below, the untreated fabric resulted in bacterial growth, whilst the treated fabric showed efficacy up to 99.97%.

Product detailsTest MethodTest bacteriumColumn 4
Untreated fabricASTM E2149E. coli3.12%
Treated fabric 1 with active substance at 0.4%ASTM E2149E. coli99.67%

The BioCote® textile additive can be applied through a range of methods including spraying, padding, and exhaustion, making it a versatile and efficient antimicrobial fabric treatment for a wide range of applications.

MarketsandMarkets Research Private Ltd. 2019. Antimicrobial Textile Market by Active Agents (Synthetic Organic Compounds, Metal & Metallic Salts, Bio-based), Application (Medical Textiles, Apparels, Home Textiles), Fabric (Cotton, Polyester, and Polyamide), and Region – Global Forecast to 2024. Available from

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