By: Maria C. Thiry
Applied Technology: Applying Antimicrobials to Textiles
By: Maria C. Thiry
There are many options to weigh when considering which antimicrobial is best for a particular product.
Application method is an important aspect to examine in more detail.
According to Damien Fruchart, textile engineer with Asix International Development Consultancy, there are
three main options for applying an antimicrobial agent to textiles. Each has its own advantages and
The first option is treating the fabric through an "aqueous process" in the finishing line with the antimicrobial
substance. The second is incorporating the antimicrobial into or onto the fiber itself. A third application
method, according to Fruchart, is post-consumer, "an additive designed to be added to the laundering water
each time the product is washed."
Applied to the Fabric
The benefit of topical antimicrobial treatment applied to the fabric during the finishing stage is that "Topical
application is more versatile," says Jeff Trogolo, chief technology officer for antimicrobial supplier Agion. "It's
later in the process and gives the retailer more flexibility about which fabric to choose." A topical
antimicrobial finish is appropriate for any use that uses a relatively small amount of fabric, or one that mixes
many different fiber types, Trogolo says.
Washfastness is key, says Hirotoshi Goto, professional engineer JP for fabric supplier Toray Industries. In
Japan, the standard for wash durability is 50 washes at 80C for industrial laundering such as hospitals. For
non-hygiene-critical applications such as home laundering, 20 washes at 40C is considered standard.
Washfastness can be improved through the use of a highly durable resinous binder, which has better affinity
with the agent and fiber and works like an adhesive, says Goto. "But this kind of resin is hydrophobic, and