Examples of Antimicrobials

We are frequently asked for examples of antimicrobials, both as they occur in nature and as we harness their capabilities into technology that can be applied to consumer and commercial products. Let’s take a closer look at a few examples of antimicrobials, how they work, and how we apply them.

Examples of Antimicrobials and How Microban® Utilizes Them

While this is not an exhaustive list, and there are other natural substances that have antimicrobial properties, these are examples of antimicrobials that occur naturally that we use in our technology.


Silver has been used as an example of antimicrobial agents since Hippocrates first described silver’s antimicrobial properties in 400 B.C. However, it wasn’t until 1972 that scientists understood how silver works. Small amounts of silver disrupt bacteria’s metabolism by preventing it from converting nutrients into energy, which inhibits bacteria survival, reproduction and colonization.

Microban silver technology, SilverShield®, utilizes the antimicrobial properties of silver in polymers. Because of its unique geometry and highly efficient release mechanism, SilverShield reacts 8 times faster than other silver antimicrobials while maintaining polymer durability and integrity. Read more about how SilverShield is implemented into Microban partner products.

Zinc Pyrithione

Unlike other examples of antimicrobials such as silver and copper, ZPTech® is a wide-spectrum antimicrobial based on zinc pyrithione, effective against not just bacteria but also the growth of fungi including mold, mildew and algae.

Zinc pyrithione was first developed in the 1930s for its antifungal and antibacterial properties, and it is still commonly used today as a main ingredient in anti-dandruff shampoos and as an over-the-counter treatment for seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, athletes’ foot, ringworm and other medical conditions. Zinc pyrithione is also used in paints, textiles and polymer products to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi on susceptible surfaces.

Microban ZPTech technology is a very durable example of an antimicrobial. Durability testing shows that polymers soaked for 2000 hours at 70°C in a detergent bath containing 3000 ppm ZPTech remained 99.99% effective in preventing the growth of Klebsiella pneumoniae, a gram-negative bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections.

It is FDA approved as a treatment for dandruff and other fungal infections at high levels, and at low levels (below 1000 ppm) it is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe to use in a variety of applications, including those that come in contact with food. Read more about how Microban ZPTech is implemented.

Remember, not every company utilizes the same antimicrobials in the same way. The recent appeal of EPA approval from a nanosilver antimicrobial shows that not all examples of antimicrobials are applied in the same safe way that Microban applies our antimicrobial technology. We set the gold standard for antimicrobial performance and continually innovate to raise the bar, ensuring the latest technology without sacrificing safety. Contact us today to learn more about how you can implement these examples of antimicrobials into your products.