Researchers from the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering said they have found a cost-effective and convenient way to apply a silver-based antimicrobial clear coating to new or existing textiles.
According to the research, published in Scientific Reports and Science X Daily, their method uses polyphenols, commonly found in food items known for staining clothes such as wine and chocolate. A range of textiles can be treated by the method and items can be washed multiple times without losing the antimicrobial and resulting anti-odor property.
The researchers noted in their study that the coating, called Ag/TA, is completely clear so it doesn’t discolor textiles and can survive being washed.
Postdoctoral fellow Joseph Richardson and fellow researcher and associate professor Hirotaka Ejima at the university told Science X Daily that they found two methods to apply the antimicrobial silver coating to textiles.
The first method is likely to be useful for commercial clothing or fabric producers, which bathes textiles in a mixture of the silver compound and the polyphenol binder. Another method, seemingly more applicable to small-scale settings, including the home, is to spray items first with the silver compound and then with the polyphenol binder. An advantage here is that people can add the coating to existing items of clothing.
Richardson told Science X Daily that through “carefully optimizing our testing methods, we found that the coating neutralizes everything we tested it on. So, Ag/TA could be useful in hospitals and other ideally sterile environments.”
The strong binding power of TA-coated textiles such as cotton, polyester and silk tested by the researchers maintained the antimicrobial and anti-odor properties for at least 10 washes.
“This isn’t just a hypothetical situation limited to the lab,” Richardson said. “I’ve tried it on my own shirts, socks, shoes, even my bathmat. We’d like to see what other useful compounds polyphenols might help bind to fabrics. Antimicrobial silver might just be the start.”
Last year, Noble Biomaterials, a creator of advanced antimicrobial systems, released Ionic+ Durable, its new Ionic+ fabric solution. Ionic+ Durable is a silver-based fabric finish that Noble said is an effective, expedient way to deliver antimicrobial benefits. It is applied at the finishing stage, allowing for maximum design freedom and production flexibility.
Burlington Industries, a division of Elevate Textiles, introduced a plant-based odor control solution called Odorblock. Partnering with Life Natural, Burlington incorporated its proprietary odor control technology to provide an environmentally conscious, effective textile solution.
As part of the Odorblock offering, Burlington uses the bacteria-fighting power of plants to control perspiration odors and preserve fabric freshness. Life Natural is a bio-based odor control technology that uses peppermint oil as the key active ingredient. The essential oil of peppermint is extracted using steaming, excluding any use of solvents or other chemicals.
Polartec also said it was switching from metal-based odor-fighting agents to peppermint oil. The company aims to find sustainable alternatives to environmentally unfriendly coatings and additives that help fabrics to stand up to the elements and wearers’ sweat.