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A Look at Anti-Microbial and Covid-Safe Fabrics
Category: All
By: Mandy Biggs

Anti-microbial fabric is treated in a way that permanently kills and inhibits the growth of microbes and bacteria.  This helps to keep your fabric smelling fresh and reducing the risk of potentially harmful pathogens growing, without altering the handle or feel of the fabric.

Anti-microbial fabrics are a hot topic at the moment.  As a requirement for healthcare environments, this is nothing new, but they are becoming increasingly sought after by specifiers for contract and also domestic environments, with increased interest within the hospitality, workplace and education sectors.

Bacteria and viruses can easily be spread via cross contamination of surfaces but the risk of transferring viruses is much higher on hard/solid surfaces rather than porous surfaces like textiles.  Even without treatment, textiles are more effective than hard surfaces when trying to reduce instances of infection.

Micro-organisms & their undesirable effects

The description ‘microbial’ is when something relates to or is caused by micro-organisms, such as bacteria, algae and fungi.  Micro-organism growth on textiles causes a range of undesirable effects, not only on the textile itself, but also on the user.  Some effects include generation of unpleasant odour, reduction in mechanical strength of the textile, stains and discolouration, and an increased likelihood of user contamination.

Depending on the moisture, nutrients and temperature levels of their surroundings, commonly found bacteria and fungi area able to quickly multiply.  Some of these bacteria populations may even double every 20 to 30 minutes under ideal conditions.  Negative effects can be controlled by durable anti-microbial finishing of the textile, using broad-spectrum biocides or by incorporating the biocide into synthetic fibres during extrusion.

The use of anti-microbials

Most of the antimicrobial agents used in commercial textiles are biocides. These biocides act in different ways according to their chemical and structural nature.  Textiles treated with biocide are protected from undesirable bacterial and fungal infection.  In addition, the function of a bioactive finish on a fabric is two-fold: the active agent protects the user from micro-organisms for aesthetic, hygiene, or medical reasons, and protects the textile from bio-deterioration caused by mould, mildew, and fungi.  Any anti-microbial treatment incorporated within a textile, besides being efficient against micro-organisms, must be non-toxic to the consumer and to the environment.

What makes anti-microbial fabrics effective?

Bacteria and viruses can be trapped in textiles such as clothing, seats, upholstered furniture, carpets, sheets, curtains etc, but textiles can be protected in a more permanent way.  All textiles may reduce the spread of the virus but, by treating fabrics with a sustainable, anti-microbial and virus activity reducing technology, there is less chance of spreading the virus.  The active ingredient is bound to the substrate, attracts the micro-organism, and then mechanically punctures the cell wall.

Curtains and blinds in anti-microbial fabric therefore help create healthier interiors.

CoronaSafe & Biosafe fabrics

Louvolite have announced the introduction of CoronaSafeTM treated Carnival and Carnival Blackout blind fabrics to their range which are available from Waverley and suitable for roller blinds and vertical blinds.  Their unique formula offers proven protection eliminating 99% of coronavirus from the fabric’s surface within an hour.  This is a tremendous result when, according to The Lancet, cloth can retain the virus for up to 2 days!

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Our DeltaBlock 40 fabric has full Biosafe® accreditation due to its anti-microbial properties which inhibit the spread of bacteria, and is popular for education and healthcare projects, being very easy to clean.

Drapilux have introduced HeiQ Viroblock technology, which is effective against widespread harmful enveloped viruses such as influenza and corona viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19). This product has been treated with biocidal silver (active ingredient: silver chloride) to prevent contamination by germs and microbes. The finishing is applied at the end of the production process, and can be applied to their existing top 10 fabrics, without affecting flame retardancy.

Drapilux ‘Bioaktiv’ treated curtain fabrics are also proven to reduce the number of bacteria on textiles by up to 99%. Meanwhile Drapilux ‘Air’ fabrics have an air-purifying function, with metal salts integrated into the textiles to break up odour molecules, and then convert into harmless carbon dioxide and water. This breaks down unpleasant odours and the function remains effective even after frequent washing.

Read our recent post on Kvadrat Textiles & Covid-19 cleaning and maintenance guidelines.

Contact our specification team on sales@waverley.co.uk for help choosing fabrics, and for samples.

About the author

Mandy Biggs Marketing Manager