What is Antimicrobial Clothing? Benefits, Types & Brands

Antimicrobial clothing is becoming increasingly popular, and we are seeing more and more designs hitting the marketplace. Once the preserve of boundary-pushing innovators in hygiene-critical work environments, brands in the lifestyle, outdoor, and athletics sectors are now releasing antimicrobial clothing. And it is incredibly well received by customers who recognize the value of integrated antimicrobial protection and actively seek it out.

Girl wearing antimicrobial clothing

Historically, antimicrobial clothing has focused on function over form. However, that is no longer the case. Modern antimicrobial technology means that manufacturers do not have to compromise aesthetically and can embed antimicrobial properties in any textile, ensuring the technology is just as at home on the catwalk as it is in the kitchen.

In this guide to all things antimicrobial clothing, we provide a detailed definition, explore how we integrate antimicrobial properties into the clothing, explain the benefits, and look at some key use cases. We also detail some of the major brands currently utilizing antimicrobial solutions in their products.

What is antimicrobial clothing?

Antimicrobial clothing refers to apparel made from textiles that are treated or engineered to resist or prevent the growth of microorganisms. These microorganisms include potentially harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses. As such, antimicrobial clothing benefits from a fresher-for-longer finish that is more hygienic than traditional clothing.

The primary purpose of using antimicrobial treatments in fabrics is to prevent the development of unpleasant odors and stains while keeping the textile free of nasty bacteria and viruses. The treatments can also prevent or slow down the fabric’s natural deterioration, often due to microbial activity.

How is antimicrobial clothing made?

There are several methods for equipping fabrics with antimicrobial properties:

Manufacturing-stage treatments

Antimicrobial agents can be applied to the fabric during the manufacturing process. With this method, the antimicrobial additive is actually in the fabric, not on it. Consequently, the treatment does not leach out and lasts for the product’s entire lifespan.

Antimicrobial coating

Fabrics can be coated with a layer of antimicrobial material. This coating creates a barrier that inhibits the growth of microorganisms. While effective, textile coatings are more prone to damage.

Antimicrobial fibers

Some fabric fibers possess natural antimicrobial properties. For example, certain bamboo or copper-infused fibers are known for their inherent antimicrobial characteristics. This type of antimicrobial protection is often less effective than specialized solutions.

It is important to note that while antimicrobial fabrics can effectively inhibit the growth of microorganisms, they are not a substitute for proper hygiene practices. Regular washing and cleaning are necessary to maintain a healthy and sanitary environment. All antimicrobial fabrics function more effectively when utilized in conjunction with a regular cleaning routine.

The six core benefits of antimicrobial clothing

You may think the advantages of antimicrobial clothing are obvious. But there are many more benefits than most people realize. Below, we explore the six core benefits of antimicrobial clothing and discuss why they are so important.

  1. Improved hygiene

Let’s start with the principal benefit. Clothing with antimicrobial properties helps prevent the spread of bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful microorganisms. This is essential in hygiene-critical environments, such as hospitals and restaurant kitchens, where poor hygiene practices can have significant consequences.

However, it is pretty vital in everyday life, too. We are exposed to enormous numbers of microorganisms daily and can spread these microbes if we are not careful. Antimicrobial jackets and other clothing ensure we’re not harboring dangerous bacteria when interacting with vulnerable groups, such as young children and older people.

  • Odor-control

Cleanliness and hygiene have a significant influence on how we feel about ourselves. If we do not feel fresh, our self-confidence takes a big knock. Nowhere is this more apparent than with odor. When we think we smell, we do not feel good about ourselves and find it difficult to continue life normally. We become self-conscious and struggle in social situations.

Antimicrobial clothing can help with that because bacteria are one of the principal causes of foul odors in apparel. As bacteria spread over dirty, damp clothing, they produce a lot of odorous byproducts that make the clothes smell awful. By eliminating these bacteria, antimicrobial clothing prevents the odor and leaves the wearer feeling fresh.

  • Fewer washes required

One of the most amazing byproducts of antimicrobial clothing’s ability to fight odor-causing bacteria is that you don’t need to wash the clothing as frequently. By preventing bacterial spread, the clothes stay fresh, and you can comfortably skip washes without worrying about bad smells or feeling dirty.

This has a huge knock-on effect regarding energy and resource consumption. Skipping every other wash saves an enormous amount of electricity, water, and time, making products more environmentally friendly and ensuring you spend fewer hours on laundry. At a time when sustainability really matters, it is great to know antimicrobial clothing can make a difference.

  • Extended product life

Antimicrobial properties extend clothing’s expected lifespan in two distinct ways. First, the antimicrobial qualities eliminate the microorganisms responsible for material degradation. For instance, mold, fungi, and bacteria can all damage textiles and drastically shorten their lifespan. 

Second, by reducing the amount of laundry required, antimicrobial technology saves clothing from one of the most damaging appliances of all – the washing machine! While washing clothes is essential, the washing machine is pretty rough on textiles and will eventually wear them out. Antimicrobial clothing reduces exposure to this harsh process by enabling you to skip washes. This leads us to another fantastic benefit…

  • Transition from consumables to durables

As we become more aware of the impact our actions have on the planet and environment around us, there is a growing recognition that we need to move away from short-life, repeat-purchase items and embrace more durable and sustainable products.

In recent years, the fast fashion model has dominated the clothing industry, whereby consumers are encouraged to buy cheap and replace regularly. However, attitudes are changing, and antimicrobial clothing and similar products enable manufacturers to produce more durable clothing that meets customers’ shifting needs. By facilitating this switch, such clothing is playing a central role in encouraging the transition from consumables to durables.

  • Better performance and value for customers

Finally, antimicrobial clothing delivers better performance and greater value to customers. This performance boost is particularly relevant to brands concerned with developing customer relationships based on loyalty, trust, and appreciation. Customers demand clothing that looks great and performs to the highest standards.

Integrated antimicrobial protection is another way for clothing brands to demonstrate their commitment to the customer and provide enhanced value. It differentiates products from the competition and provides another reason to choose your clothing over another company’s offering.

Use cases for antimicrobial clothing

Antimicrobial shirts, trousers, skirts, and scrubs are all useful in different contexts and environments. Earlier in the article, we briefly touched on potential use cases for antimicrobial clothing. But we wanted to explore the topic in greater depth. Below, we look at four key areas where antimicrobial clothing is having a significant impact.

Lifestyle and fashion

The lifestyle and fashion sector has wholeheartedly embraced antimicrobial clothing, and you can now find innovative designs from some of the biggest brands in the world. For instance, M.M. LaFleur, Tommy Hilfiger, Diesel, and Airinum all utilize Polygiene StayFresh™, ensuring many of their products benefit from advanced antibacterial protection.

With antimicrobial shirts, trousers, dresses, jackets, and other accessories, Polygiene StayFresh’s odor-eliminating capabilities are incredibly important. By fighting odor-causing bacteria, the technology enables the wearer to go about their everyday routine without worrying about bad smells. It inspires confidence and helps users feel fresh and on top of their game. 

Sports and outdoor

Sports and outdoor apparel also benefit from odor-eliminating technology. However, it does so from a more practical, functional, and performance-based perspective. Whether running, cycling, or working out in the gym, sweat is an unavoidable part of staying fit. The same goes for outdoor wear. Hiking and camping require clothing and equipment that remains fresh for as long as possible despite physical exertion.

The demand for antimicrobial clothing in the sports and outdoor sector is evident in the number of prestigious brands using Polygiene StayFresh in various products. Cycling apparel experts GripGrab incorporate it into its thermal base layers. Maloja also utilizes it in its cycling range, while Montane, O’Neill, and The North Face all use Polygiene StayFresh, too.


Of course, antimicrobial clothing is not just a lifestyle choice or handy when you head outdoors. It is also immensely practical in specific work environments. And some of the biggest manufacturers in workwear have recognized this. BONMAX, JSP, Worksoul, and General Tactic all use Polygiene StayFresh in work garments to protect against potentially harmful bacteria and keep items fresher for longer.

From dental practice scrubs to emergency services uniforms, workwear that requires less frequent washing, feels clean and is odor-free is a big boost to the professionals who wear it. It means they spend less time doing laundry, are more self-confident while on the job, and benefit from more durable and longer-lasting clothing.

antimicrobail workwear

Hygiene-critical environments

Finally, it is also important to note that antimicrobial clothing is highly valued in hygiene-critical environments, such as healthcare facilities, kitchens, and food production facilities. These workplaces have strict hygiene requirements, as spreading bacteria or other harmful microorganisms could have devastating consequences.

In such environments, antimicrobial clothing is a welcome layer of additional security, helping to keep clothing bacteria-free between cleans.

Antimicrobial clothing and Polygiene StayFresh

In this article, we provided a comprehensive overview of antimicrobial clothing, explaining how it is created and benefits users and manufacturers. We have touched on key use cases and explored the various brands currently utilizing the technology. In doing so, we hoped to highlight the growing demand for antimicrobial clothing and its ability to transform several clothing sectors, including lifestyle, outdoor, and workwear lines.

Our groundbreaking Polygiene StayFresh solution is at the forefront of developments in this respect. Based on silver ion technology, it is proven to eliminate 99.99% of microorganisms, helping clothing stay odor-free and fresher for longer. It is integrated into textiles at the point of manufacture and provides protection for a product’s entire lifespan.

Head to the Polygiene StayFresh product page to learn more about the technology. Alternatively, you can check out all the antimicrobial clothing that employs our technologies at the Polygiene Buy It marketplace page.

If you have questions about integrating Polygiene StayFresh into your apparel or want to discuss which Polygiene solution best suits your products, contact the Polygiene team today.