Some antimicrobial textiles were far more effective at performing their advertised tasks in the lab than in human testing, the findings showed.
“We are not necessarily seeing the same results when we are wearing them next to our bodies in real life,” said researcher Rachel McQueen from University of Alberta in Canada.
She said: “Because the textiles appear to be effective at reducing bacteria in the lab, they may be advertised as being anti-odourous, although they may not necessarily be so when actually worn.”
“If you are actually buying something that says it is antimicrobial, it may not be.”
The study involved two separate experiments.
In one experiment, the fabrics were designed to help lower the risk of infection; in the second, the fabric was treated with a silver compound that aimed at preventing odour in clothing.
The researchers found the in vivo – tested on humans – results were not comparable with in vitro – tested in the lab – results in how they prevented microorganisms from surviving in the textile.
“Anything from sweat to the proteins in the human body can disrupt the antimicrobial properties of a fabric,” McQueen added.
The paper appeared in the Journal of Clothing Science and Technology.