Antimicrobial Fabrics: Kiss Pathogens and
Other Nasties Goodbye

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Antimicrobial Fabrics: Kiss Pathogens and
Other Nasties Goodbye

If we’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s how easily pathogens can spread. While nothing is a guarantee against the spread of viruses and bacteria, there are plenty of options out there that help prevent it, and antimicrobial fabrics certainly fall under that category. But how do they work, and are they worth it? Let’s start with fomites.

Fomites – What Are They and Why Should You Care? 

Man working on laptop at his desk

Fomites are essentially any inanimate object that can carry pathogens. They include all manner of surfaces, including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Clothing 
  • Handles 
  • Countertops 
  • Mobile phones 
  • Light switches 
  • Handrails 
  • Faucets 
  • Chairs 
  • Desks

There are lots of different fomites we encounter every day, which means there are also lots of opportunities to come into contact with pathogens lurking on those surfaces. They play a huge role in health and safety because they carry a number of different pathogens, including adenovirus, coronavirus, hand/foot and mouth disease, influenza, norovirus, rhinovirus, and rotavirus. Not surprisingly, keeping surfaces clean goes quite a ways in helping to keep your workplace safe for everyone who enters it.  

While it’s virtually impossible to eradicate all pathogens and always keep every surface impeccably clean, it is possible to minimize the risks they carry, and that’s where antimicrobial fabrics come into play. 

Antimicrobial versus Antibacterial  

Wiping down a desk

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, antimicrobial means “destroying or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms and especially pathogenic microorganisms.” The purpose of these fabrics is to fend off any unwanted microorganisms from taking up residency on a surface. Their value comes from their ability to inhibit the growth of and destroy microorganisms such as: 

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Fungi 
  • Algae
  • Dust mites
  • Parasites

So why choose an antimicrobial over an antibacterial?

While antimicrobial fabrics ward off a whole host of pathogens and do not allow them to grow in or on a surface, antibacterial fabrics are limited in that they only inhibit the growth of bacteria. This makes antimicrobial fabrics a significantly more useful and powerful ally in maintaining workplace health and safety, particularly in healthcare and educational spaces.

Types of Antimicrobial Fabrics 

Set of red chairs in an office workspace
Project: Reinforced Earth

Antimicrobial fabrics come in several different types. Some are woven into the fibers of the fabric, while others are applied as a coating to the surface of the fabric. Fabrics include polyesters, vinyls, polyester-vinyl composites, and even acrylics. When treated with additional guards, such as waterproofing and stain, flame, and odor resistance guards, you have a fabric that offers a formidable barrier against pathogens as well as conditions that cause those pathogens to develop (moisture, sweat, skin oils, etc.).  

Be aware: some fabrics – such as triclosan – are considered harmful. Since textile products aren’t regulated by the FDA, it is best to speak with an expert about what to buy and what microbe-fighting agents are used in the manufacture of the fabrics.  

Just because a fabric is antimicrobial doesn’t mean it doesn’t require cleaning, though. Read more here for information on cleaning workplace furniture.  

Going Beyond Fabrics 

Holding a bucket of cleaning supplies

To maximize the effectiveness of antimicrobial fabrics, proper cleaning and disinfection of your workplace goes a long way in doubling your health and safety efforts. Stock up on products such as:  

  • Soap 
  • Lotion 
  • Cleansers 
  • Detergents 
  • Sprays 
  • Wet Wipes 
  • Rubber gloves 
  • Sanitizers 
  • Disinfectants

We carry a range of furniture than features antimicrobial fabrics. To learn more about them and other products we sell, 
contact us and let our experts assist you in ensuring your workspace’s health and hygiene.