Are Antimicrobial Fibers The Real Deal

In the interim of the race to a vaccine and therapeutics for the novel Coronavirus, consumers are desperate for any glimmer of safety that may protect them. Beyond wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing hands often, and being generally hygienic, a number of brands have recently touted claims that their fabrics have sanitizing antibacterial qualities. But just how safe and effective are these assumptions?
Just last year, an L.A.-based medical apparel retailer selling scrubs and lab coats got hit with a hefty lawsuit over its false claims that their apparel has “antimicrobial” qualities. It has come to recent suggestions in scientific studies, however, that certain materials can produce antibacterial qualities. Bamboo, for instance, has been seen to do this, however when it has been processed it is not nearly as effective. Additionally, antimicrobial fabric doesn’t just kill germs on initial contact. Most of these fibers are used to slow growth of bacteria and may take up to 10 minutes to kill a number of microbes.
However, certain fabrics infused with zinc and copper or silver ions have proven effective in eliminating viruses, but they are still in their earliest form of development. Even in standard PPE, these treatments are not shown to be used. Other alternatives are antibacterial fabric sprays. Tide produces one for apparel, claiming to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria. In my unprofessional, not-a-doctor-by-any-means opinion, I would say that this is our closest bet to any form of antibacterial treatments on the market.
Based on current research and findings, it doesn’t seem like a truly effective antimicrobial fabrication will be on the market for the foreseeable future. However, what is certainly effective in terms of limited contact with the virus has proven to be multi-layer mask and eye-shield coverings, lots of hand-washing, and of course, keeping your distance. Let’s stick to that for now.
By Adi Shoham