Antimicrobial fabric, what is it? What’s it made of? Why is it effective?
What do you need to know about this specialty fabric and why is it great for use in so many products?
First, let’s define what antimicrobial means. The term ‘antimicrobial’ is defined as: “destroying or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms, and especially pathogenic microorganisms.”
Microorganisms “include bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi, like mold and mildew.” Antimicrobial products are common in everyday households and are used in textiles. At first, it might seem strange that antimicrobials are found in fabrics, but the truth is, without this layer of protection, many fabric products would succumb to contamination and have to be discarded. Here are is a quick list of where you might find an antimicrobial fabric:
- Medical bedding
- Medical curtains
- Boat textiles like covers and bimini tops
- Industrial fabrics
- Uniforms - military, hospital, and more
When it comes to specialty fabrics and the use of antimicrobial features, it’s important to understand that including a pathogen fighting layer of defense prolongs the life of the textile and protects the end user.
Basically, an antimicrobial is applied to a fabric to help fight off pathogens that could potentially infect a patient. This means that the antimicrobial is constantly working against microorganisms and not only protecting human users, but also prolonging the life of the fabric. For companies, investing in antimicrobial textiles is one way to ensure the longevity of the fabric and also help keep replacement costs down.
For example, Sure-Chek® brand medical fabrics are enhanced by a controlled release system, which enables the "slow release" of a specially formulated antimicrobial system to the fabric surface, lasting for the life of the medical fabric. Sure-Chek® Healthcare medical fabrics are the original healthcare textiles that were patented for use as protective covering fabrics and are the industry standard today. These fabrics are used in hospitals, dorms, prisons, and camps.
Antimicrobial fabrics can be made of a variety of textiles, including but not limited to polyester, polyester-vinyl composites, vinyl, and even acrylics. The effectiveness of an antimicrobial fabric lies in its ability to fend off microorganisms, and its ability to help prolong the life of a textile. Think about hospital blankets, bedding, and even mattresses. These are constantly imbued with sweat, oils, and other contaminants, and can easily become breeding grounds for bacteria, mold and mildew. But, through the use of an antimicrobial, coupled with the application of other features - like flame, stain and odor resistance, and waterproofing - the fabric can withstand regular wear and tear and last far longer than expected.
Similar to antibacterial soaps and disinfectants, antimicrobial fabrics help reduce the spread of disease. The primary function of antimicrobials is to help prevent bacteria and other microorganisms from infecting human beings. Keep in mind, microorganisms can live in a fabric and grow. That’s why antimicrobials are so effective -- they prevent the growth and spread of microorganisms within the fabric. This is especially useful in the healthcare industry where exposure to bacteria and other pathogens is possible on a daily, hourly, basis. From beds to pillows, to hospital gowns, and even the scrubs a nurse or doctor wears, fabrics in the healthcare industry must be designed to prevent the spread of disease. That’s why the use of antimicrobial fabrics is so common and so helpful in the places like hospitals.
Remember, the first line of defense starts with a product that does its job.
When considering the use of an antimicrobial fabric in a project, it’s always best to find the right company who can provide a textile that will last and utilize other features. That’s why doing your research and understanding what antimicrobial means is a great first step in finding the right supplier for your needs.
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