While we continue to wash our hands, stay at our homes and abide by social distancing recommendations; there’s still the elephant in the room — how will we, as a global community, prevent something of this magnitude from happening again? It’s our social responsibility, as a brand, to create solutions within our industry to prevent a pandemic like COVID-19. The commercial furniture industry needs to re-evaluate its choice of textiles and materials used in product designs. Antimicrobial fabrics and surfaces are quickly moving to the forefront of designers’ minds, due to their microorganism-resistant properties. Here are some examples of materials that can either lessen the spread of contagions or easily be disinfected:
Antimicrobial fabrics are fiber-based materials imbibed with antimicrobial agents, which have either been applied to the surface or infused into the fibers to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. This is not a new innovation, commercial textile manufacturers already have these types of fabrics available. For example, Mayer Fabrics uses silver ion technology to create their antimicrobial fabrics. This technology works to fight microbes in three ways: the silver ion can puncture the bacterial cell wall, the silver ion can disrupt and inhibit cellular respiration and lastly, the silver ion can interfere with DNA and cellular replication.
A recent study by Princeton University analyzed the longevity of both SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) on surfaces. The study found that these viruses were still detected up to 72 hours after application. However, certain surfaces experienced a much shorter exposure time. Within 4 hours, copper no longer housed any viable SARS-CoV-2. Copper’s antibacterial properties were first acknowledged in the 19th century when copper workers appeared to be immune to cholera. Now, copper is recognized by the EPA as the only solid surface material capable of killing bacteria. Along with copper, copper alloys like brass and bronze are significantly more resilient to viruses than stainless steel or plastic.
If antimicrobial fabrics are simply not feasible for a project, an alternative solution is polyurethane or vinyl. Polyurethane is incredibly durable, blocks moisture and is environmentally-friendly. Cleaning polyurethane is simple, just use diluted bleach or mineral spirits. Vinyl, another equally viable solution, is inherently resistant to bacterial growth. Vinyl is impermeable to moisture and immensely easy to clean, making it the leading textile in the healthcare industry.
In the coming months, we should all be cognizant of the choices we make as industry professionals. Choosing textiles or surfaces based on an aesthetic appeal is no longer an easy decision to make with alternatives like antimicrobial fabrics on market. Taking public health into consideration must be paramount. We design for commercial settings — hospitals, schools, offices, restaurants, etc. If protecting our community is as simple as choosing an antimicrobial fabric over a decorative one, then let’s do it. At Venue Industries, we are beginning to offer antimicrobial textiles as a standard option on all orders. Please contact us if you have any inquiries about antimicrobial fabrics or need a quote.