A new study has established the feasibility of giving fabrics an anti-bacterial, odor-resistant coating with the fresh scent of vanilla. The technology also could have medical applications in preventing the spread of hospital infections via bed linens and other objects, according to the study, published in the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.
Ricard Garcia-Valls and colleagues explain that vanillin, the main ingredient in the vanilla extract flavoring sold in little brown bottles in supermarkets, does more than confer a pleasing aroma. Vanillin also fights microbes, including the notorious Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) bacteria responsible for many hospital-acquired infections. Garcia-Valls’ team decided to use an increasingly popular technology, microencapsulation, to combine the fresh scent and antibacterial effects of vanillin in fabrics.
They describe packaging vanillin into tiny capsules made of polysulfone, a heat-resistant plastic, and using the capsules to coat cotton. Fabric with the coating resisted growth of S. aureus, and the coating stayed intact through several wash-dry cycles. “This work sets the basis for further development of fabrics with antimicrobial activity and a pleasant aromatic finish,” the scientists state.