By: D.Gopalakrishnan & R K Aswini

Department of Textile Technology, PSG College of Technology,
Coimbatore 641 004

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. Odour has become an important factor. Unpleasant odour can arise from the acquisition of a variety of compounds produced in bodily fluids such as perspiration. Consumers are looking for solutions to odour and microbial problem and the unique benefits provided by antimicrobial finish.

Microorganism growth is another factor that has resulted in development of antimicrobial finish. Microbial infestation poses danger to both living and non-living matters. Microorganisms cause problems with textile raw materials and processing chemicals, wet processes in the mills, roll or bulk goods in storage, finished goods in storage and transport, and goods as the consumer uses them. Obnoxious smell form the inner garments such as socks, spread of diseases, staining and degradation of textiles are some of the detrimental effects of bad microbes. The consumers are now increasingly aware of the hygienic life style and there is a necessity and expectation for a wide range of textile products finished with antimicrobial properties.

This paper covers the full range of positive effects that antimicrobials bring to textile industry and provides the types and properties of antimicrobials.

Keywords: Microbes; Antimicrobial


Mold, mildew, fungus, yeast, and bacteria (microorganisms) are part of our everyday lives. There are both good and bad types of microorganisms. The thousands of species of microorganisms that exist are found everywhere in the environment and on our bodies. These organisms impact producers, retailers, and users of all kinds of products. The scope of this reaches from whole buildings, building materials, people, equipment, processes, production of textiles, storage and transport of textiles, and users of textiles. Understanding microorganisms, which they are, where they come from, and why they grow on certain materials provides us a basis for controlling them and their negative effects. This control capability, with the right technology, can provide for a valuable feature on a wide range of textiles.

The inherent properties of the textile fibres provide room for the growth of microorganisms. Besides, the structure of the substrates and the chemical processes may induce the growth of microbes. Humid and warm environment still aggravate the problem. Infestation by microbes cause cross infection by pathogens and development odour where the fabric is worn next to skin. In addition, the staining and loss of the performance properties of textile substrates are the results of microbial attack. Basically, with a view to protect the wearer and the textile substrate itself antimicrobial finish is applied to textile materials.

Antimicrobial textile products continue to increase in popularity as demand for fresh smelling, skin friendly, high performance fabrics goes on. Modern performance fabrics are required in many specialist applications, sports textile is one example. These need to exhibit high degrees of performance in terms of longevity and durability, and by imparting antimicrobial properties to the fabric. These properties can be improved as well as increasing the comfort and hygiene factor making them more pleasant to wear. Odour can be neutralized and skin problems caused by microbial growth reduced thus emphasizing the hygiene nature of the treated product.