Antimicrobial textile products continue to rise in popularity chart as demand for fresh-smelling, skin-friendly, and high performance fabrics keeps growing, emphasises Pooja D Gujar.
Textiles have always played a central role in the evolution of human culture by being at the forefront of both technological and artistic development. The protective aspects of textile have provided the most textile ground for innovative developments.
Hygiene has acquired importance in recent years. A major growth concept over the last five years has been the introduction of the concept of durable freshness applied to all kinds of textile apparel, especially those which are worn under conditions of strenuous physical exertion, or in hot climates. Garments such as intimate apparel, socks, gloves and especially textile products used in footwear clearly offer a large potential market for retention of freshness during wear.
There are many other areas with potential for exploitation of the durable freshness concept, including household textiles, e.g., carpets, curtains, cushions, etc, as well as opportunities in textiles used in automotive textiles such as car seating and floor coverings, and textiles for other forms of transportation, e.g., trucks, buses, trains and aeroplanes. Another important area is that of performance sportswear for all manner of physical activities.
Nowadays, odour has become an important factor. Body odour is an embarrassment which everybody would have faced in one or the other time. The sweat or dirt may put a person in discomfort, while with others. People look for clothes that smell good, and remain fresh for a longer time, thereby boosting their confidence. They expect specialised finishes that control body odour and remain fresh for a longer time. The term ´novel finishes´ is used in the sense of new types of finishes. This should mean more than new research and development ideas or patents.
Meaning of odour
A wide range of microorganisms co-exist in a natural equilibrium with the human body and living environments. However, a rapid and uncontrolled multiplication of even non-pathogenic microbes can seriously compromise personal hygiene and health standards. The term body odour means odours generated as a result of natural functioning of a human body. Such odour includes odours produced by micro-organisms of the skin through decomposition of skin secretions, urine, other body odours, and mixture thereof. Such odours are mainly organic molecules, which have different structures and functional groups, such as amines, acids, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, phenolics and polycyclics, including aromatics and polyaromatics. These molecules may also be made up of sulphur containing functional groups, such as thiol, mercaptao, sulfide or disulfide groups.
The growth of bacteria on the perspiration entrapped into a garment can rapidly lead to the build-up of undesirable odours, which then necessitates the garment being washed or dry-cleaned to restore the freshness. Unpleasant odour can arise from the acquisition of a variety of compounds produced in body fluids such as perspiration.
Why do textiles carry odour?
Clothing can act as a carrier for microbial infection or odour generation and if it has poor antistatic properties it will attract dirt and dust, increasing the proliferation of microorganisms.Odour mainly results from bacterial growth. During processing of textile material, several substances are added to the textile materials, such as lubricants, antistats, size, thickeners and hand modifiers. All these are a source of food for microorganisms. Thus an antimicrobial finish can be applied to the fabric to prevent bacterial growth and ultimately the odour. Also textiles have very large specific surface (0.1 to 1 m¦/g). Therefore they attract, adsorb and store various gas