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White workwear for hygienic environments

January 1st, 2012 / By: / Advanced Textiles, Projects

Despite an explosion of color and style in clothing for health professionals, in environments where hygiene trumps fashion, white seems right. The Hohenstein Institute, Bönnigheim, Germany, offers a new kind of fiber using regenerated cellulose and zinc/zinc oxide treatment for white, antimicrobial and comfortable clothing suitable for health and food-preparation work. The new fibers, as well as the woven or knitted fabrics made from them, proved effective in reducing transmission of infectious disease, comfortable to wear and suitable for leasing.

Cellulose, a renewable fiber derived from plants, can be recovered and reprocessed to a synthetic form that takes antimicrobial treatment and is almost as comfortable as cotton. However, most treatments involve the use of antimicrobial silver, which is effective in killing bacteria but alters the color of the fabric. Zinc has the same benefits as silver and is a safe, well-researched element that doesn’t create color variations–whites are whiter, for those who prefer the classics. Testing in both practical and laboratory settings showed that antimicrobial effectiveness survived 100 washing and drying cycles.

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