Making the right claims is the right thing

November 4, 2020

When COVID-19 hit the world, of course, people flock to sell “antiviral” properties. Many with good intentions, some with less sincere claims. It is good and desirable that authorities worldwide act to protect the consumer, and that the industries behind the products also discuss what claims are valid and which are not. It is a very important issue as making false claims will hurt both the one making it as well as the industry at large. So, here is the latest on what we have learned.

As COVID-19 spread, we saw that our partners acted quickly to help out, using Polygiene-treated fabrics to make face masks, scrubs, and other products. Our reaction was to rapidly respond with a treatment that will deliver antiviral performance according to the world standard for antiviral treatment of textiles, ISO 18184:2019.

Just like our anti-odor treatments, this is a protection of the product, not the protection of the person. Whether it is a facemask or a pair of jeans doesn’t matter – the product will not have to be washed or even discarded out of fear of viruses or bacteria.

We cannot, and will never, claim that it is safer for a person to have a facemask treated with ViralOff. Or jeans, or shirts, or anything. First, it is virtually impossible to claim it clinically (just look at the still-raging debate whether facemasks are really useful) and second, it moves it from a treated article exemption to a medical product or disinfectant. Where there are completely different standards, tests, and rules.

Summarizing what we know we see that it all boils down to one core question. Protect the garment from the need to wash or discard. We see that people tend to over-wash textiles due to fear of viruses which is putting a strain on an already challenged environment*. It is not so much about specific words, for example, “antiviral” or “antimicrobial”, “kills” versus “reduces” as it is about whether the consumer understands that the protection is for the garment and not for their own safety or health.

When it comes to the claim, if it doesn’t meet the ISO18184 (Determination of the antiviral activity of textile products), it is, in our opinion, not serious. Claiming antiviral properties by “switching” to talking about the antibacterial effect is also a way of misleading the market. Tell them like it is!

If a product passes ISO before washing it, it’s antiviral, but then it might take up to 6 hours after the item has been washed, say 20 times, then that is OK. As long as you are straightforward, just put it on the care label and on the product description. Never make anything up.

We must recognize, however, that the situation is new to all of us (this includes the authorities), that several aspects of the virus are still unknown, and finally that the current rules were not really written with a future pandemic in mind. So, there are a lot of rumors and wild interpretations floating around. Therefore, it is so important to be able to rely on science and facts, like the world standard test of ISO18184.

Should anyone raise concerns please ask them for a reference document or paragraph, and please forward them to us and we will be happy to give you our comment on it.

* For more information on washing habits and Covid-19, read “Survey on viruses, washing and ViralOff®”.

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Photo credit: är