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Home / Tips and Tricks / What are antimicrobials (and do they work)? – LifeSavvy

What are antimicrobials (and do they work)? – LifeSavvy



  A woman wearing a face mask to protect herself from infection.
Victoria Chudinova / Shutterstock

Wondering whether it is worth buying antimicrobial clothing and face masks? Here is a closer look at how these substances work and what they can and cannot do.

There are no easy solutions when it comes to the right equipment to protect yourself from a pandemic-level viral outbreak. After all, if there was such a thing, we would all do it. Still, it seems logical that microbe-resistant fabrics for face masks and clothing can protect you.

Let's see what antimicrobials can do and whether they are worthy of detection.

How Antimicrobials Work?

Since substances can retain moisture and provide a large surface area, they are often hotbeds of microbial growth. That is why antimicrobials have been developed ̵

1; to prevent microbes from thriving on certain materials.

There are a number of different antimicrobials, and they all work in slightly different ways. One of the main types contains antimicrobial agents in the fibers of the fabric. The other main type has an antimicrobial coating on the surface of the fabric.

Many different antimicrobial agents can also be used within these two methods, such as metal salts. The effectiveness of the substance depends in part on the substance it uses to kill microbes.

Will Antimicrobial Agents Stop COVID-19?

The coronavirus can certainly get onto substances and remain infectious for a while. However, antimicrobials may not be as effective at fighting them as they sound.

In a 2013 study of face masks versus the flu virus, antimicrobial pillowcases received only an average effectiveness score. They even scored lower than cotton-blend fabrics, tea towels and vacuum cleaner bags. (However, they worked better than regular pillow cases.)

Why weren't they higher? Probably because antimicrobials are usually designed for bacteria and fungi, as these are the main microbes that grow on fabrics.

Bacteria often thrive in the humid, warm environments that are often provided by fabric (especially the clothes you wear). Meanwhile, viruses live longer on hard surfaces, such as stainless steel.

But while dust is not a superfriendly environment for viruses, it can host the coronavirus for up to 24 hours (as far as experts know). But while microbes like bacteria can grow on dust and multiply by the day, a virus will die after up to 24 hours. Tissue is not conducive to viral growth, therefore antimicrobial agents are not really designed to kill them.

Some antimicrobial agents do work against certain types of viruses. However, you should not assume that a substance labeled & # 39; antimicrobial & # 39; will fight the coronavirus in the same way as bacterial or fungal growth. Again, because antimicrobials are primarily designed to stop bacteria and fungi, they will usually not be as effective against viruses.

Should You Buy Products Made From Antimicrobial Agents?

  A man who works in a textile factory.
Alba_alioth / Shutterstock

When deciding whether or not to buy antimicrobial clothing, there are also some safety considerations.

Many of the microbe repellents added to substances are safe. However, there are a few, like triclosan, that seem to be harmful. Because textile products are not regulated by the FDA, these dangerous antimicrobials can still be sold in clothing.

However, if you avoid the unsafe means, it wouldn't hurt to prefer antimicrobials to common materials right now. In fact, some experts believe that antimicrobials may help protect you from COVID-19, as some studies seem to suggest that they are at least somewhat effective against viruses.

However, keep in mind that an antimicrobial mask or coat does not completely block the virus of life on your clothes. It reduces the chance of transmission, but it probably won't keep you completely virus-free if you are exposed (for example, if someone who is infected sneezes in your area).

Also, sellers can make misleading claims about how effective their products are against viruses to drive sales. Ultimately, substances that are very effective against viruses can be developed, but unfortunately we do not have them yet.

If you decide to buy items made from antimicrobials, try to find out which antimicrobial agent the manufacturer uses so you can make sure it is safe. Continue to follow safe practices, such as washing your face mask regularly, even if it is antimicrobial.

These fabrics can make a bit of a difference when it comes to protection against viruses, but they are not a guarantee.


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