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Odor adhesion technology, a promising method to fight odor

Odor setting in an article of clothing after wearing a few times is just as obvious as night comes after a sunny day. The connection between odor and comfort are so much interrelated that the clash between them is like a vicious cycle. Sometimes washing clothes, again and again, is not enough as the odor keeps staying there as if it is the king of the domain!

beautiful flowers odor tech
Figure 1: Textiles are now expected to have odor control and protect the consumer from undesirable odors.

So, what options do the wearer have? One is suffering from discomfort and the other is dumping the garment altogether as the last resort. To solve the problem odor-fighting technologies in textiles are invented.

But does this solution end the problem once and for all? The answer is ‘No!’ because odor diminishes the comfort and odor-fighting technologies can also affect the thermal comfort and hand of a garment. As a result, to minimize odor we are also minimizing comfort to an extent. That’s a great problem! Not a holistic solution at all!

But wait! There is another alternative groundbreaking solution and it is called odor adhesion technology! Let’s dive into the kingdom of odor and some possible solutions to eradicate it from our garments!
How is odor caused?

An average human has more than 2 million sweat glands on his or her body. Sweat comes out of these glands. Typical underarm sweat, which is often considered the cause of body odor, doesn’t smell itself; the odor is caused by bacteria on the skin – Corynebacterium and some Staphylococcus species– that break down the sweat and produce the volatile organic compounds VOCs that cause clothes to smell.

These pungent substances settle into the fiber of garments. When they are released, you smell them, and like most people, remain uncomfortable until the odor disappears.

Different materials’ characteristics in causing odor

Material choice plays a great role in odor issues. Polyester became popular in the first place because of its versatility, cost-effectiveness and ability to be produced in large quantities. While other options like cotton and wool can have natural odor-fighting properties, neither have quite the same moisture-wicking abilities, and neither can sustainably clothe a rapidly growing, global population.

Traditionally, natural fabrics like cotton, linen and even wool have been better for excessive sweaters than synthetic fabrics because they breathe better.

Odor adhesion technology
Figure 2: How odor is caused.

Linen is the lightest of the three fabrics and will probably make the wearer feel “cooler,” and light wool, like merino, helps transfer heat away from the body to provide a cooling effect. Light, 100-percent cotton is a good choice as well because it’s breathable, which means the fabric absorbs moisture, in this case, perspiration, in short order.

Since the body cools when air hits moist skin, cotton is a good choice if it is needed to get the body temperature down in a hurry. But where cotton and other natural fabrics fall short is that they all retain the excessive moisture that doesn’t evaporate from the skin. Nylon is a tough contender but it is expensive.

Polyester has a sizable flaw besides its benefits: it can get more smelly than other materials. However, the mechanisms behind attachment of odor molecules are still mostly unknown. Given the discomfort that comes with unpleasant odors, it’s no wonder odor control is a significant point of discussion.
A possible solution for fighting odor in polyester garments

Changing the way polyester garments are washed is a possible solution. Washing with hot water and immediately after wearing while the garment is still sweat-soaked can result in tremendous success. But this is quite difficult for the consumers to repeat it again and again. Moreover, frequent single washes aren’t exactly sustainable.

Antimicrobials!

Currently, incorporating antimicrobials into the products is the most common odor-fighting technology. They are used to prevent bacteria from metabolizing sweat and releasing unpleasant odors into the air.

When bacteria, mold, mildew and other microbes encounter the antimicrobial product, it prevents unwanted microbes from growing or reproducing; adding an extra level of hygiene or freshness to the product.

Antimicrobials can either be built into the masterbatch, such as with polyester chips, prior to extruding the fiber, or applied as a fabric finish. To apply an antimicrobial finish, the textile is run through a finishing bath and coated.

While coating may be more economical than infusing the masterbatch, coatings aren’t quite as durable. They are better suited for performance wear than fashion. Another risk of coatings involves comfort.

Adding another layer of chemical coating can reduce the breathability and moisture-wicking properties of the garment, causing the wearer to sweat more, sooner, leading to the vicious cycle of more sweat, discomfort and odor.

Antimicrobials also come with concerns. Many fear that, since antimicrobials aren’t able to distinguish between good and bad bacteria, antimicrobial garments may have the potential to negatively impact wearers’ natural skin flora, resulting in damaging the good bacteria.

Others have concerns over the possibility for antimicrobials to lose their effectiveness as bacteria adapt. While neither side effect has been directly proven, there is still a push for alternative odor management approaches.

A new alternative solution!

One alternative winning approach is odor adhesion technology. Most interestingly it doesn’t fight with the bacteria rather it attracts odor molecules like a strong magnet.

This promisingly durable method traps those nasty molecules within the textile, preventing odor from being released into the air, thus preventing odor detection. The odor molecules are squeezed out of their pockets and released when the garment is washed. As a result, the consumer can use a fresh garment time after time.

According to the former head of the Competence Center Innovative Textiles at Hohenstein, Dr. Jan Beringer’s article in Sourcing Journal, this new technology, though still applied as a chemical coating, could also have positive impacts on the environment and human health since it doesn’t employ biocides or heavy metals.

The greatest concern so far is the effect of any coating on breathability and moisture-wicking properties, and if it is actually more effective than antimicrobial coatings.

Conclusion

As consumer lifestyles continue to evolve, the demand for technologically advanced textiles continues to grow. Now we all want to wear garments with confidence – a confidence that goes beyond fashion.

Textiles are now expected to have odor control and protect the consumer from undesirable odors. The relationship between comfort and odor remains a balancing act, and there’s still significant research to be done. Nevertheless, promising new technologies to have the potential to offer a healthier, more sustainable solution to odor-fighting.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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