Antibacterial fabric resists colonization by bacteria to reduce the risk of spreading infection and developing unpleasant odors. It can be used in health care settings to protect patients and is also found in products like sports clothing and bedding. There are a number of ways to treat fabric to create antibacterial properties of varying efficacy. Textile manufacturers involved in research and development on this topic are interested in identifying cost-effective ways of controlling bacterial growth on fabrics.
Some fibers naturally resist bacterial growth, particularly bamboo. Fabrics made from bamboo fiber can be less hospitable to microorganisms and this can endure through numerous washings. Other fabrics need to be treated with dips, sprays, and other finishes that coat the fabric or components. The best option can depend on how the fabric will be used.
Nanoparticles are used in some antibacterial fabric, particularly silver particles. These can confer long-lasting protection against unwanted organisms. Fabric designers need to consider human and environmental health when they add finishes to textile products, and thus exercise some caution in recommended coatings. One concern with nanoparticles is the possibility of being absorbed through the skin and causing health problems.