Multifunctional Performance Apparel: A Guide to Antimicrobial Textiles

2020 marked the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shifted the apparel industry towards sanitizing and protective garments. Infectious diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Managing these pathogens in everyday life starts with researching and developing antimicrobial/bacterial-treated fabrics. 

What are the benefits of antimicrobial clothes?

Protective Barrier

          As COVID-19 remains a threat to public safety, the prevention of pathogen transmission in dense public spaces like gyms, airports, shopping malls, etc., is top priority for society. It's simple, bacteria and viruses survive on clothing surfaces and antimicrobial fabrics are protect against those external elements. In full transparency, research is few and far between how these microorganisms’ transmission translates to being infected with diseases, but prevention is key. A barrier is a barrier, nonetheless. 

Environmentally Conscious 

          Technically, with the addition of antimicrobial fabric treatments, a garment is intended to withstand multiple uses before washing. Consequently, by wearing antimicrobial-treated clothing, we reduce water and energy waste. Most elements used as antimicrobial/bacterial treatments like Zinc, Silver and Copper are naturally sourced. Combine those natural materials with sustainable fabrics and together you have a modern solution for two major problems. An eco-friendly approach to functional fabrics fit for a sustainable apparel champion. 

Fresh Scent for Longer

        Multifunctional textiles can be considered a self-cleaning material with reduced hygiene concerns. Antimicrobial fabrics inhibit odor by controlling bacterial growth. The metal cations combine with sulfur and phosphorus of DNA to destroy the cloning function, which prevents the growth of bacteria. An essential feature in fitness apparel as it retains permanent odor build-up from sweat after heavy use.  (Especially beneficial with reusable face mask, check out Non Zero Gravity's)


Multifunctional Fabric Treatment Types:

Metal nanoparticles are used as antimicrobial/bacterial agents as they can kill bacteria by directly binding and destroying cell walls or inhibiting the growth of bacteria by interfering with the respiratory function of cells. Here's a breakdown of the top 3 fabric treatments:

COPPER

Copper (CuO) is purified to extract single Copper ions in a liquid form to infuse into fabrics.

          Copper (CuO) is purified to extract single Copper ions in a liquid form to infuse into fabrics. This is a commonly used metal because of its ability to guard against microorganisms,  reduce infection (as found in medical compression garments), and thermal regulation on textiles. Copper (CuO) is purified to extract single Copper ions in a liquid form to infuse into fabrics. As your body emits heat, Copper ions expand, providing more surface area to combat external pathogens. Studies show that Copper has a higher antibacterial effect than Silver, regardless of the bacteria type, with a bacteriostatic and sterilization rate of ≥ 99%.

SILVER

Silver (Ag) antibacterial treatment is achieved by padding textiles with a nanosized Silver colloidal solution.
  • Antimicrobial

  • UV Protection

  • Odor-Block

  • Cooling Effect

  • Promotes Blood Circulation

          The textile fabrics’ Silver (Ag) antibacterial treatment is achieved by padding textiles with a nanosized Silver colloidal solution. When natural and synthetic fabrics are treated with mixture solutions of Silver, the ions squeeze in-between the free spaces of fibers, including in the textile structure, consequently trapping them in place. Ag nanoparticles have a vast surface area compared to ZnO and Cu, which increases when in contact with bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The nanoparticles provide an antifungal effect, prevent odor and decrease the level of pathogenic germs. According to studies, the stabilization of Silver nanoparticles in the bounded textile fiber structure  (the polymeric matrix) preserves the bactericidal and bacteriostatic properties after continuous use and regular washings. Therefore, this is a long-term antibacterial solution.

ZINC OXIDE

Zinc Oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles disrupt the bacterial cell membrane to down-regulate genes in bacteria.

          Zinc Oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles disrupt the bacterial cell membrane to down-regulate genes in bacteria. The main feature of ZnO-treated textile is that it’s considered the safest antimicrobial textile additive, including sensitive skin. Textiles have the longest and most intense contact with the human skin, and Zinc Oxide is an essential ingredient of many enzymes, sunscreens, and ointments for pain and itch relief. ZnO functional textiles with antioxidative capacity and antibacterial activity are being used in the medical field. Its microcrystals are very efficient light absorbers in the UVA and UVB region of spectra due to the wide-bandgap.

          Technical, protective textiles are the future of activewear and lifestyle apparel. NZG prides itself on developing functional performance-oriented activewear for the changing apparel scene. Check it out below. 

 

ZinTex for Men
ZinTex for Women

 


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