In the past, antibacterial and antiviral fabric treatments were merely an “add-on” feature — but, these technologies “have become a must-have” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Antibacterial fabrics have been around for many years, as they’ve been particularly useful for performance-oriented, Traditionally, [antibacterial technology] has been a finishing applied to the knitted fabric, with the disadvantage that this treatment washed out after 30 to 40 washes and the effect was gone.”

Natural antibacterial materials such as merino wool, explaining that the thin waxy coating of wool fiber, called lanolin, contains fatty acids that inhibit the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria — which ultimately serve to protect a sheep’s skin from infection. “Those natural properties also prevail in the finished garment,”. 


First of all, it is important to define the similarities but also the differences between a virus and a bacteria to clarify the purpose of antiviral and antibacterial fabrics.

Bacteria are unicellular organisms. They are living cells that can be either beneficial or harmful to other organisms. Viruses, on the other hand, are considered to be particles that are somewhere between living and nonliving cells. Viruses have to invade the body of a host organism in order to replicate their particles.

A bacterium can survive on its own, inside or outside the body. Most bacteria aren’t harmful. Most viruses are pathogenic.

Therefore, the purpose of antiviral versus antibacterial fabrics are slightly different. Bacteria in a fabric is more of a nuisance rather than a threat as they — in combination with moisture emitted from our body — can start to stink, and the more bacteria live in our clothing, the more annoying this can get, but normally the consequences are not pathogenic. Hence, the main purpose of an antibacterial fabric is to inhibit the growth of bacteria to keep a fabric fresh to wear for many days or nights without the need of washing it daily after wearing.

On the other hand, viruses — needless to say, these days — are more than a nuisance. Hence, the purpose of an antiviral fabric is to inhibit any kind of host cells that a virus has or can invade on the fabric, waiting for a passage to the doors of our body. And given the potentially lethal consequence of a virus, there is a different level of testing and certification needed that a fabric can qualify to be antiviral.