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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Freshness That Endures

Davidson Cotton, Microban team up to provide durable antimicrobial protection in a line of bath towels.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Assistant Editor

TOWEL_A_270R ecent consumer surveys have revealed a demand for bath towels and wash cloths with durable antimicrobial properties. While the technology has existed to incorporate these properties into synthetic fibers, there has not been an effective method to make natural fibers “germ-proof” until recently.

Davidson Cotton Co., Huntersville, N.C., has introduced a line of cotton bath towels that contain Microban® Antimicrobial Product Protection, provided by Microban Products Co., also based in Huntersville. It is the first line of towel products produced in the United States to have such protection.

The product has been developed in response to surveys indicating concern among two-thirds of consumers over odor-, mold- and mildew-causing bacteria and germs in the home. Eighty percent of American women stressed the importance of damp- and mildew-odor prevention in bath towels between uses. In recent focus groups on the benefits of freshness, towels were among the first bathroom items mentioned.

The Technology

The proprietary technology developed by Microban to make synthetic fibers resistant to mold, mildew and bacteria incorporates the antimicrobial additives directly into the molecular structure of the fiber during its manufacture. These additives work by electrochemically penetrating and disrupting the cell walls of the microbe, causing leakage of essential metabolites and disruption of other key cell functions, resulting in an inability of the cells to reproduce.

In treating natural fibers, these additives must be applied topically by a pad application, in which the fabric is completely saturated in a bath of the finish. The fabric is then squeezed between two rollers to remove any excess finish, and then dried in an oven. The finish is quite durable, holding up after repeated launderings in tests developed by the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC).

Built-In Freshness

"This innovative technology, combined with our existing products, provides us with a unique advantage in the home textiles market," said Fulton Allen, senior vice president of towel marketing, Davidson Cotton Co. "This freshness feature [Microban Antimicrobial Product Protection] ... is a feature we know consumers are looking for."

"In response to strong consumer desire for antimicrobial protection in textiles, we are extremely pleased to announce this new partnership with Davidson Cotton Co.,” said Gary Kroll, president, Microban Products Co. “I’m confident consumers will embrace this new product containing the Microban technology because of the additional value and extra product protection it provides."

The towel is being marketed to department and specialty stores as the “BIF [Built-in Freshness]” towel. Bath towels, hand towels and wash cloths are included in the line, which is available in eight different colors. The bath towels and wash cloths are also available in two-color stripes. Plied yarns are used in the pile to provide optimum absorbency. Eric Linn, vice president, marketing, Davidson Cotton Co., said the company has also received feedback indicating interest in an antimicrobial sports or spa towel.

For more information about the BIF towel, contact Steve Puckett, Davidson Cotton Co., (704) 599-6900. For more information about Microban Antimicrobial Product Protection, contact Microban Products Co. (704) 875-0806.

January 2001