New solution can help 'permanently get rid of germs'
A new anti-microbial treatment that can make clothing - including smelly socks - permanently germ-free has been developed by US scientists.
The spray-on solution can be applied to existing garments, according to the team from the University of Georgia.
It is designed to offer low cost protection for healthcare facilities, such as hospitals.
Chemical impregnated materials already exist, but have to be added during the manufacturing process.
The new solution can be applied to natural and synthetic textiles including clothes, home carpets, shoes and even plastics.
In a paper published in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces, Dr Jason Locklin and his colleagues state that the treatment kills a wide range of dangerous pathogens, including staph, strep, E. coli, pseudomonas and acetinobacter.
Many of these can cause disease, break down fabrics, create stains and produce odours.
When the scientists tested the product, they found that a single application was enough to stop all further bacterial growth at up to 37 degrees Celsius.
And the solution did not degrade even after multiple hot water laundry cycles.
Although it could potentially be used in a number of fields, its primary application is expected to be in healthcare.
According to the US federal agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in every 20 hospitalised patients contracts a healthcare-associated infection.
Lab coats, scrub suits, uniforms, gowns, gloves and linens are all known to be breeding grounds for harmful microbes.
"The spread of pathogens on textiles and plastics is a growing concern, especially in healthcare facilities and hotels, which are ideal environments for the proliferation and spread of very harmful micro-organisms," said Dr Locklin.
People are also trying to get rid of dangerous microbes at home, especially when it comes to food packaging, plastic furniture and their children's bath toys.
But not all anti-bacterial products are cheap or effective.
"Similar technologies are limited by cost of materials, use of noxious chemicals in the application or loss of effectiveness after a few washings," said Gennaro Gama from the University of Georgia Research Foundation (UGARF).
"Locklin's technology uses ingeniously simple, inexpensive and scalable chemistry."