Microban SilverShield® Technology for Textiles
Home textiles, including towels, table cloths, mattress pads and bath mats, and clothing, especially activewear, are prone to odors and stains. Because they are frequently in contact with skin cells, sweat and other organic materials that feed bacteria, and they are used in warm, damp environments where bacteria grow, they are particularly vulnerable to bacteria-associated stains and odors.
Unfortunately, laundering may not eliminate bacteria from textiles; if a washing machine isn’t clean, the washing water isn’t hot enough, or there’s standing water in the washer, mold and bacteria can grow and contaminate laundry during the wash cycle.[i] Even hospitals’ sanitation practices aren’t always effective: Researchers found that 93% of freshly laundered cloth towels used to clean hospital rooms contained potentially harmful bacteria.[ii]
Antimicrobial fabric technology is an effective way to inhibit growth of bacteria in fabrics made from polyester, cotton and poly-cotton blends, but durability and longevity have been a problem. Microban has solved this issue with SilverShield, an easy-to-use, safe formulation that provides significantly more durable and effective protection against bacteria in textiles.
Silver has long been used as an antimicrobial agent, at least since Hippocrates first described silver’s antimicrobial properties in 400 B.C., but 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.[iii],[iv]
Microban’s innovative SilverShield combines the natural antimicrobial power of silver, in the form of silver chloride, with a unique carrier system that boosts the silver’s durability and lifespan. This combination results in a finish that is highly resistant to wash and wear.
SilverShield is formulated to stop the growth of microorganisms on clothing and other textiles by interrupting bacterial metabolic processes and inhibiting microbe proliferation. It keeps textiles fresher by preventing the growth of bacteria and reducing the breakdown of organic soils that can lead to odor buildup on fabrics.
Activewear is particularly vulnerable to bacteria because it regularly comes into contact with human sweat and skin cells that feed bacteria and with warm, damp environments where bacteria thrive. In controlled research studies, Microban’s SilverShield was compared against competitors’ silver-based antimicrobial-treated activewear. While all of the products were effective against bacterial growth before laundering, only SilverShield continued to reduce 99.9% of odor-causing Staphylococcus aureus bacteria after more than 25 typical home launderings.
Also critical to apparel manufacturers, when applied as directed SilverShield will maintain all features of the fabric, including color fastness, texture and moisture management.
Safety and Environmental Stewardship
Microban is committed to consumer safety and environmental stewardship. It is a system partner with bluesign®, which promotes sustainable textile production by eliminating harmful chemicals from the very beginning of the manufacturing process.
SilverShield has undergone extensive independent laboratory testing and has a long history of safe use. It is not a nanotechnology, and it is inert until it comes into contact with a warm, damp environment in which bacteria can proliferate. Only then will it release minute amounts of silver – just enough to inhibit the bacteria’s metabolism and prevent reproduction. Its accuracy makes it a weapon in the ongoing battle against harmful microbes.
It has U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), registration, indicating it has undergone stringent quality tests and has met the highest requirements for health and safety. SilverShield is free of arsenic, tin, lead, chromium +6, cadmium and mercury, and it’s manufactured using recycled silver, helping to reduce landfill burden and the need to mine for new sources of silver. In addition, it has been fine tuned to reduce the amount of silver required to effectively treat textiles, further improving sustainability and cost of the treatment.
SilverShield Advantage for Textiles
Microban SilverShield’s antimicrobial properties make products more appealing to cleanliness- and odor-conscious consumer and business textile buyers. Consumers perceive the Microban brand as a valuable Trustmark that says they’re getting durable and effective antimicrobial protection that doesn’t negatively affect products’ safety, integrity, functionality, aesthetics or durability.
In a recent Microban consumer-research study, 92% of athletic clothing buyers said they would be interested in purchasing activewear with Microban antimicrobial protection. Other recent consumer-research studies show consumers are 45% more likely to prefer bath rugs with Microban antimicrobial protection compared to competitors’ rugs, and 88% of consumers say Microban protects mattress pads from stains and odors better than a generic antimicrobial.
How SilverShield Is Implemented In Textiles
Microban works individually with textile makers to make SilverShield integration as simple and seamless as possible without disruption to existing manufacturing processes. Microban’s unique carrier system impregnates the silver chloride throughout fabrics for durable antimicrobial protection. SilverShield is integrated during the pad application process to easily and effectively deliver antimicrobial protection alongside other textile finishes.
Our engineers work with manufacturers to develop formulations of SilverShield matched to each product. These custom formulations are tested with manufacturers’ own fabrics both for antimicrobial effectiveness and to ensure that SilverShield will not degrade or decrease the aesthetics, color, color fastness, durability or any other feature of the product.
By providing SilverShield to manufacturers in dispersions and training manufacturing staff on its proper use, Microban makes it very easy to properly insert SilverShield in textiles. Complete the form below to learn more about SilverShield® technology from Microban.
Sifuentes LY, Gerba GP, Weart I, Englebrecht K, Koenig DW. Microbial contamination of hospital reusable cleaning towels. American Journal of Infection Control, 2013,41(10):912-915. PMID: 23523522
 Jung, W. K., Koo, H. C., Kim, K. W., Shin, S., Kim, S. H., & Park, Y. H. Antibacterial activity and mechanism of action of the silver ion in Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Applied and environmental microbiology, 2008; 74(7), 2171-2178.
 Morones-Ramirez, J., Winkler, J. A., Spina, C. S. & Collins, J.J. (2013). Silver Enhances Antibiotic Activity Against Gram-Negative Bacteria. Science Translational Medicine, 2013; 5(190), 190ra81. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3006276.