The use of natural antimicrobial agents for bioactive textiles is an emerging area of research. This type of cloths will be of great importance especially for the people suffering from skin problems due to bacteria. Leading newspaper The Indian Express published a report on a new approach to make textiles antimicrobial by incorporating the active principle of plant extracts with fabric by Dr. Thilagavathi & Mr. Rajendra kumar of the Department of Textile Technology, PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore and Mr. Rajendran of Department of Microbiology, PSG College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore. 

They explored the possibilities of using extracts of neem, prickly chaff flower and pomegranate on fabrics as antimicrobial agent. As we know now, there is a good deal of demand for the fabrics having functional/specialty finishes in general but antimicrobial finishes in particular to protect human being against microbes will be of great interest.

The application of antimicrobial textile finishes include a wide range of textile products for medical, technical, industrial, home furnishing and apparel sectors. Though a number of commercial antimicrobial agents have been introduced in the market, their compliance to the regulations imposed by International Bodies like EPU is still unclear. Recent developments on Chitosan (a naturally occurring biopolymer) have opened up new avenues in this area of research. 

The present investigation aims at developing an eco-friendly natural antimicrobial finish from plant extracts for textile application. Some selective species of plants were identified and screened for their activity and the extracts were applied to cotton fabrics. An extensive study was conducted to assess the antimicrobial effectiveness of the herbs by employing standard test methods and the findings are discussed in this paper. Neem (Azadirachta indica), pomegranate rind (Punica granatum) and prickly chaff flower (Achyranthus aspera) are the plant species chosen for the study. Fresh leaves of neem and prickly chaff flower were shadow dried and made into a fine powder. 

In an study was conducted at Department of Textile Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, on possible application of Neem extract on textiles as antibacterial finishing agent, revealed that Neem seed and bark extracts have a good potential to be used as an ecofriendly and effective agent for antibacterial finishing of cotton and cotton/polyester based textiles. It is found that the seed extract retains the antibacterial activity up to the five machine washes, which is equivalent to approximately 25 home launderings. 

Nirmal Pal, who is a Textile Engg., and is Chief Executive Officer of NKP-Engineers & IPRs Consultants, Kolkata has developed NEEM MEDICATED TEXTILES. Best Neem leaves were collected from the eastern Indian tropical region. Solution was made by mixing raw turmeric in appropriate proportion to the neem leaf extract, and suitably filtered out to make a clear solution like vegetable dye-solution. Cotton Socks, Stockings, Panty, Bra, and other inner garments were sterilized in autoclave at 100 degree Celsius for 15 minutes and kept immersed in Neem – turmeric extract solution for certain period of time under pressure. Then cloths were dried. The same procedure was repeated for 3 times in warm condition for the proper penetrate of the neem particle. Fixing agent was used in order to withstand 10 washing at least in Luke warm water. The inner garments were used by normal people and patients’ with skin diseases. The products were sent in Europe to intimate friends who informed that they noticed positive effect of the garments on their skins. There were no spots and no mark due to non-availability of sunlight on their inner bodies. 

They displayed their products and conducted awareness in the India International Trade Fair (IITF-2004 and in 2005) organized by ITPO, New Delhi .Many enquiries came from France, Brazil, Ivory Coast, China and African continents. They are doing further research work in the development of Neem coated Garment using Nano-Technology.