The global textile sector is enormous; in 2018 the value of the US textile sector was $78 billion and employed over 550,000 workers1. In 2017 China produced 79 billion metres of cloth2; that’s enough to go to the moon and back 100 times!
Textiles and clothes are a fundamental part of our everyday life however they also provide an excellent material for micro-organisms to grow on. Measures to prevent microbial growth on textiles and fabrics dates back to Egyptian times when mummy wraps were preserved using herbs and spices3. Since then bamboo has been used in housing structures and design in China and in World War II a range of chemicals were used to impart antimicrobial activity to tents, tarpaulins and truck covers4. Prevention of microbial attack is essential for durability of the textile, in addition to potential use in prevention of transmission of disease.
Anti-microbials have become more advanced, safe and effective since these times, however there are still concerns over their use in some products, particularly clothing. Antimicrobial textiles are classified as those textiles that have been subjected to various finished to give protection to both the user of the textile and the textile itself, without negatively impacting the performance of the product.
In this context, antimicrobial textiles should be able to inactivate a wide range of microorganisms5,6, be non-toxic and environmentally friendly, durable to repeated washes and easy to recharge in laundering or disinfection processes7. In addition, the recharging agents should be non-toxic, available at home, and compatible with laundering chemicals such as detergents..........