Sixty-one percent of consumers in U.K. 'regularly' or 'occasionally' found their sportswear had persistent stale odors after washing at low temperatures, survey finds; washing sportswear at 30-40 degrees not hot enough to kill most bacteria

WEST MIDLANDS, England , December 5, 2011 (press release) – To destroy most pathogenic bacteria, a laundering temperature of 60 degrees for 15 minutes is needed and, to kill the majority of the bacterial population, this must be increased to 30 minutes at the same temperature or to 90 degrees for five minutes.

The result is that the new, cooler and shorter wash cycles can create issues for sportswear designers and manufacturers when it comes to combating sweat odours and other bacteria-related issues. An added complication is that certain textile yarns commonly used in sportswear cannot be laundered at higher temperatures.

Recent research by Microban Europe in Europe showed that 61% of all users surveyed “regularly” or “occasionally” found that their sportswear had persistent stale odours after washing at low temperatures. Also, 91% of the same sample said they had experienced a loss of freshness during sporting activities.*

Paul McDonnell, Managing Director at Microban Europe, said that campaigns to save energy by using lower temperature washing had been underway for a number of years and the practice was accepted in many households and heavily promoted by appliance and detergent manufacturers.

He explained: “While there is a strong energy saving argument, the fact is that repeated washing of performance sportswear garments at 30 or even 40 degrees is just not hot enough to kill the vast majority of bacteria.

“Over time, there is a build up on sportswear and for most users the main issue is persistent odour that lingers on regularly used kit.

“For this reason we are seeing a growing interest in antibacterial solutions from the sportswear sector. There is an increasing awareness that bacterial accumulation leading to odour is an issue and to incorporate some kind of proven antibacterial technology into garments during manufacturing is an obvious solution.”

A variety of sportswear companies and textile specifiers were currently in dialogue with Microban, he explained, and new sportswear ranges featuring Microban antibacterial protection could reach customers within the next 12 months.

He said: “We are talking to a variety of retailers and brand names who work in everything from high performance clothing to outdoor activity wear; and there is a high level of recognition that there is potential for accelerated sales in these sectors with product ranges that deliver genuine value added odour-preventing antibacterial benefits to customers.”

McDonnell added that the popularity of 30 and 40 degree laundering was also creating issues for washing machine manufacturers, where a build up of bacteria over time within the machine was a recognised problem, creating mould and odour.

He explained: “At lower temperatures, the same issues affect the machine as the fabrics. Many machine manufacturers recommend a high temperature wash once in a while to clean the machine through properly. We also provide antibacterial actives that are built into components which can help to alleviate this problem.”

Microban is the recognised leader in built-in antibacterial technologies with 34% brand recognition in the UK. The company has licensed its technologies to more than 200 partners worldwide including Whirlpool, Bissell, Rubbermaid, Johnson & Johnson and Dupont. Its antibacterial protection has been built into more than 1,000 products.

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