Reassessing the Formulations of the Materials in Anti-Odor Athletic Clothing

Formulations

Image Source: Flickr User: familymwr

Anyone who spends time at the gym is well acquainted with certain scents that tend to cling to  workout wear and understands why anti-odor athletic clothing is such a gift. That said, when developing anti-odor coatings or materials, a number of factors need to be taken into account. A recent paper discussing the efficacy and possible environmental implications of using silver-containing textiles quells some concerns, but also raises a number of potential questions as textile manufacturers move forward into unexplored territory with activewear.1 As new formulations are developed, computer software that can help manufacturers navigate these concerns will be crucial to the success of new fabrics.

A Rose By Any Other Name

Most athletic clothing is designed to wick sweat away from the body to prevent chafing and discomfort, which means that the majority of this clothing is largely synthetic, made of polyester or a close textile relative. Unfortunately, this is bad news for the wearer and anyone in their general vicinity post-workout. Polyester clothes smell substantially worse than cotton after intensive exercise, because the bacteria that are associated with odor grow better on these wicking clothes as compared to cotton.2 Micrococci, the scent causing bacteria, turn long-chain fatty acids, hormones and amino acids into volatile compounds. Most other bacteria on the body, such as staphylococci and corynebacteria, either don’t cause a scent, or don’t grow on textiles with quite the same fortitude as micrococci. Moving forward, having modern lab software that can track which textile add-ins can abate the growth of micrococci will prove indispensable in banishing athletic odors.

This is where a lot of silver-based clothing comes in. Silver, heralded for having antimicrobial properties, has been used in a number of different practical and clinical applications for many years. While assessing the approximate silver composition needed to create the antimicrobial effect, it may seem that more is a better choice. The authors of one paper saw that silver loadings as low as a few parts per million (ug/g) were effective to reduce microbial growth, but with the aid of modern lab software that could very likely be refined and better tailored. Certain individuals may need more based on approximate growth rates due to hormone balance, or perhaps silver is more effective for one type of athletics than another. Additionally, as researchers begin to investigate different anti-odor formulations, software that tracks efficacy and effective applications methods will be indispensable when looking for proof of concept or determining which product is more sustainable for manufacturing.

More Considerations Moving Forward

Because there are some potential new areas in the development of anti-odor clothing worth investigating, it is important moving forward that a number of factors be taken into account:

  • Efficacy – There are a number of well-recognized antimicrobial compounds that are either woven into fabric or applied to materials post-production. That said, not all of these are created equal. Products like chitosan, a biodegradable product made from shrimp shells, is antimicrobial against Staphylococcous saprophyticus and Escherichia coli, but what about micrococci?3 Designing and testing a formulation against specific microbes will be important, and using modern lab software that has modelling and tracking capabilities will help expedite this process. Additionally, adequate testing and tracking of adequate testing will be crucial. Consumers are becoming more critical of antimicrobial claims, and it is best to use the most up-to-date accurate methods.4
  • Environment – Yes, silver is a well recognized antimicrobial product, but what about all of the microbes that we want to keep around? Another major part of the paper about the use of silver in athletic clothing was the potential impacts of silver on environmental microbiota. It appears that application methods play a major role in sloughing excess silver, something which can be refined and tested using innovative software. Additionally, it may be best to take into account life cycle of the clothing and recycling programs to prevent excess silver from leaching into groundwater.
  • Wear and Tear – Which application method and which materials will deliver the odor protection that the customers desire for the longest period of time? Whether for the duration of workout (such as an ultra-marathon distance) or the overall lifespan of the product, it will be important to provide varying levels and better predictions of customers. Modern lab software can help manufacturers predict these aspects and put ratings on items that will be incredibly useful to the consumer, and items that tout better predictions will likely instill customers with more confidence in the brand and product.

BIOVIA Formulations will weave this whole process together by delivering a product that will help you formulate new and efficacious anti-stink protection. This solution has features that allow for formula definition and material specification which will enable better tracking and design of your antimicrobial products. Please contact us today to learn more about how our software options can support the efforts of your lab.

  1. “Potential Environmental Impacts and Antimicrobial Efficacy of Silver- and Nanosilver-containing Textiles,” February 29, 2016, http://pubs.acs.org.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/doi/full/10.1021/acs.est.5b06043
  2. “Microbial Odor Profile of Polyester and Cotton Clothes after a Fitness Session,” August 11, 2014, http://aem.asm.org/content/80/21/6611
  3. “Nano rescues skin: Shrimp shell nanotech for wound healing and anti-aging face cream,” 2011,  http://www.inderscience.com/offer.php?id=45885
  4. “Smelly discovery challenges effectiveness of antimicrobial textiles,” September 24, 2014, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140926150453.htm