The garment industry relies a great deal on the textile industry for innovation and fresh ideas in regard to fabrics. Speaking of “fresh” ideas, let’s learn about how silver textiles can help keep your clothing fresh with reduced odors.
Silver is a chemical element with symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it possesses the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity and reflectivity of any metal. The metal occurs naturally in its pure, free form (native silver), as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining. Silver has long been valued as a precious metal and is very frequently used in the jewelry market. This metal can also be utilized in apparel and footwear.
‘Antimicrobial’ is simply the term used to describe something that has the ability to resist the growth of microbes. While the term ‘antibacterial’ refers only to bacteria, ‘antimicrobial’ refers to a wider range of organisms including bacteria, molds, fungi and others.
Scientists have discovered that silver interrupts the bacteria cell’s ability to form the chemical bonds essential to its survival. These bonds produce the cell’s physical structure so when bacteria meets silver it literally falls apart. In 1893, the antibacterial effectiveness of various metals were noted and this property was named the oligodynamic effect. It was later found that out of all the metals with antimicrobial properties, silver has the most effective antibacterial action and the least toxicity to animal cells (Guggenbichler et al., 1999).
Silver fabric is helpful for reducing antibacterial effects on clothing and fashion accessories. When the fabric is produced properly, the silver ions on the surface of a material treated with additives bind with microbes that come into contact with the surface and irreparably damage them, disrupting their normal cell function which stops them from reproducing and finally results in the death of the cell. Terminating the bacteria cell is beneficial.
Unlike some other metals with antimicrobial properties, it is believed that it is not toxic to humans (Apparel Search is NOT owned by scientists and we are NOT certain that silver is completely safe. Please do your own research regarding safety issues).
Silver nanoparticles have been used to impart antimicrobial activity to cotton fibers. Cotton samples were immersed in silver nanoparticle solutions and then subjected to a curing process to allow the nanoparticles to adhere to the cotton (El-Rafie et al., 2010). A chemical binder was then applied to the fabric to help maintain nanoparticle-cotton binding. Cotton samples prepared in this manner were able to reduce S. aureus and E. coli cell counts by 97% and 91% respectively. Even after subjecting the fabric to 20 laundry cycles, the cotton samples were still able to reduce S. aureus and E. coli cell counts by 94% and 85% respectively. Cotton prepared in this manner could be used by individuals working in the medical field or those who often work with microbes to prevent the spread of infectious bacteria (El-Rafie et al., 2010). Read more at Silver is an Antimicrobial Agent.
Learn more about antimicrobial fabrics.
You may also want to learn about the following companies in the field of silver fabric technology.
SILVADUR from DOW: A Global Technology Leader. SILVADUR Intelligent Freshness was invented at Dow, a global leader in science and microbial control technology. SILVADUR’s polymer containing silver technology secures silver molecules to denim surfaces. When odor-causing bacteria come in contact with your jeans, SILVADUR releases silver ions which neutralize the bacteria on contact. SILVADUR works continuously and invisibly and won’t affect the fit, feel, finish, or appearance of your denim fabrics. SILVADUR just makes sure they stay fresh and odor-free. When applied to fabric surfaces, SILVADUR antimicrobial technology forms an extensive polymeric network on fiber surfaces… it becomes the holding pen for the needed silver ions. Through scientific engineering, SILVADUR technology regulates the release rate of silver ions and allows for activation only in the presence of unwanted bacteria thus minimizing the buildup of undesirable bacteria. With less buildup of bacteria on fabric surfaces, textile products experience the long lasting antimicrobial benefits of reduced deterioration and the elimination of undesirable odors.
Micro Silver Crystal Technology (Agiene): Agiene® Micro Silver Crystal technology is an advanced silver antimicrobial treatment for textiles. It keeps garments, footwear and home textiles cleaner, fresher and free of unpleasant odors.
Silpure Silver Antimicrobial Fabric Treatment: Silpure uses the power of silver to bring long-lasting antibacterial properties to your textiles. This unique patented antimicrobial product contains ultra-fine silver crystals that release silver ions at a controlled rate only when the conditions for bacterial growth exist. Through careful control of the size and shape of the particles during production, Silpure avoids the fabric discoloration that can occur with other silver antimicrobial products. Garments treated with Silpure, especially intimates and sportswear, provide lasting cleanliness and freshness. Silpure can also be used to protect domestic textiles such as towels, bedding, upholstery and more from the undesirable effects of microbial growth.
Additional reading that may be worth a look:
Determination of silver nanoparticle release from antibacterial fabrics into artificial sweat (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health)
Learn more about the textile industry here on Apparel Search.
We hope that this page helps you better understand the purpose of using silver in textiles.
This question has no relevance to silver, but maybe you are wondering, "What is sexy clothing?".