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Debra Cobb

Expert Opinion

7th March 2016, Hendersonville, NC

The Best Antimicrobial Technology That You’ve Never Heard Of

Today’s antimicrobial treatments for textiles are usually marketed based on the concept of odour control, particularly for active and outdoor wear; and on the idea that textiles treated with antimicrobial agents can be washed less frequently.

But most consumers don’t really understand the chemistry of antimicrobial technologies; and those of us who are somewhat informed are vaguely uncomfortable with the idea of substances such as triclosan, quat-silane, and nano-silver applied to textiles that we wear against the skin.

Quick-Med Technologies has developed an antimicroial technology for textiles using hydrogen peroxide. © Quick-Med Technologies

What if there was an antimicrobial technology for textiles that is cost-effective yet highly durable; proven in medical wound care yet as consumer-friendly as laundry detergent; and that degrades into nothing more harmful than water and oxygen?

The wide-spread use of such a technology could go a long ways in reducing our global water crisis, according to Quick-Med Technologies, Inc., a publicly-traded life sciences company based in Florida that is focused on developing technologies for infection prevention and control for the healthcare and consumer markets.

Hydrogen peroxide, a natural antiseptic

According to David Lerner, founder of Quick-Med Technologies, that technology is currently available as a textile finish that is easily applied during the manufacturing process; or can even be applied to finished textiles as a post-treatment. It’s called Oxi Fresh™; and although it has no relationship to the laundry detergent OxiClean™, both are based on hydrogen peroxide (H202), recognized as a safe antimicrobial agent by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Consumers are familiar with hydrogen peroxide, Lerner pointed out, as a color-safe bleaching agent and stain fighter for laundering applications. Hydrogen peroxide functions by destroying the cell membrane as well as internal cell structures, thereby killing the microbe and inhibiting the growth of microbial colonies.

Hydrogen Peroxide is well-established as a safe and natural antimicrobial. © Quick-Med Technologies

Hydrogen peroxide has been proven to not only reduce the risk of infection dramatically, but to control microbe-driven odour and staining on textiles. Independent lab analysis using AATCC 100 showed that H202 delivered broad spectrum efficacy against a range of common pathogens and odour-causing bacteria.

Rebranding for consumer textiles

Oxi Fresh™ is, in essence, a consumer-facing rebranding of the company’s Stay-Fresh® technology: a hydrogen peroxide bleach that is permanently bound to textiles for consumer use. But whilst the concentration of H202 in antiseptics for medical use is about 3%, the amount used in Oxi Fresh™ is much less concentrated, according to Dr. Bernd Liesenfeld, Quick-Med Technologies’ president.

The inert binder is composed of zinc oxides and hydroxides, which are safely used on sensitive skin in barrier creams such as diaper cream and sunscreen products. Oxi Fresh™ has been validated to retain efficacy for up to 75 launderings at 105˚ F, with full kill on medical grade bacteria, virus, fungi and mould.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US has registered the Oxi Fresh™ technology for use in a wide range of consumer textile products.

“We feel the degree of testing we’ve done of H202 on wounds and compromised surfaces speaks to an appropriate level of safety,” said Liesenfeld, whose article describing the platform was published in the September/October 2013 edition of the AATCC Review.

Getting the word out to consumers

Quick-Med has licensed their antimicrobial technologies to various consumer and medical textile producers, such as Doris Hosiery, Polartec LLC, Sarasota Medical Products, and Medline. With the rebranding of Stay-Fresh® as Oxi Fresh™, Lerner is looking to take the product to the next level.

An 18-year veteran of the apparel trade, Lerner is focused on the benefits of Oxi Fresh™ to the consumer as well as to the supply chain side of the business. His primary message: textiles treated with Oxi Fresh™ need not be washed as frequently, and can be safely cleaned at lower temperatures, conserving water and energy, whilst conserving the integrity of the product for a longer wearable life.

“Quick-Med Technologies, Inc. has developed and commercialized Oxi Fresh™ as a new, game-changing, green, FDA/EPA-approved antimicrobial and preservative, a ‘No Wash’ product for the textile, apparel, and footwear industries,” Lerner enthused.

Oxi Fresh hopes to reduce the environmental impact of washing consumer textiles. © Quick-Med Technologies

“The average washing machine uses approximately 33 gallons of water per wash,” he continued. “This product will save millions of gallons of water normally used in home laundering and commercial applications.”

Whilst other antimicrobial technologies likewise tout the reduced need for laundering in marketing their products, Oxi Fresh™ would appear to have additional sustainable aspects.

“Oxi Fresh™ performs as well out-of-the-box as it does after 75 home launderings. It is not a heavy metal; it conserves water and energy; and has no detergent runoff into the environment,” Lerner pointed out.

Lerner also believes that Oxi Fresh™ offers potential benefits to the medical and hospitality businesses, where the cost of high-temperature laundering can be very high.

Supply chain positives

The Oxi Fresh™ licensing arrangement “adds pennies on the dollar” to the cost of finished textiles and garments, Lerner insisted. The technology is easily applied, requiring no special equipment, and presenting no discoloration issues.

The finished products stay fresher and cleaner, for longer, as the technology contains an inherent preservative that reduces inventory spoilage due to mould or humidity during transportation and storage.

“Water scarcity is an emerging problem, and getting worse,” Lerner reiterated. “This growing global challenge is creating opportunities for new and advanced textiles. While ‘green’ technologies are often considered more expensive or inconvenient, Oxi Fresh™ delivers real economic and product benefits to provide a win-win for suppliers, consumers, and the environment.”

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  • Zajid M&S 14th July 2016 13:44PM

    That's sounds great, we always have issue using Silver based and non silver based products, this will give a solution to that, and moreover if this process give price benefit, this can be persuaded