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Microfibre cloths with antibacterial silver

Hi, have had Norwex cloths for ages and just purchased some antimicrobial silver microfibre cloths that were a good price but not ridiculously cheap Arrived quickly so all looks great. My question is, apart from the description on the site, how do I know they are silver ion cloths, not just microfibre?

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I cannot think of any way outside a laboratory to test them. I would be cautious about accepting all their claims. The cloth itself may well be resistant to hosting harmful microbes to some degree which is useful as dirty cleaning cloths can transfer bugs and spread them around. How resistant one would only know after much testing. That does not mean that it disinfects all surfaces on contact, it may not do this at all.

On a general note I see little value in attempting to sterilise the surfaces on the inside of your house. For one you can’t do it and for two there is little point. Cleanliness is good, it reduces the chances of bugs growing and spreading in large numbers but the fact is no matter how much you clean, every part of your house, the air you breathe and the water in your tap is well populated with microbes.

The aim is to keep the numbers down to the level that your bodily defences including immune system can deal with. There are many sprays, wipes, pretty coloured liquids (some you put down the toilet for blog’s sake) soaps and washes that sell based on the idea that you need domestic disinfection. You will be a bad parent (mother usually) if you don’t employ the full range - they say.

There is a school of thought that we should not even try for disinfection, that low level exposure is actually beneficial. In my view if your household cleaning and food handling practices are good you can do without them all.

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Just a point of clarification, silver can have an effect against bacteria and not any microbes.

There has also bee reports of concern of silver resistance occurring in bacteria and also what happens when the free silver ions enter the environment (about 2 years ago I read a paper indicating that some silver ions can be captured in biosolids and remaining free silver ions can pass directly through a waste water treatment plant into the environment). There are concerns that the release to the environment may lead to silver resistance in bacteria exposed to low silver concentrations.

Also, the fabric is treated with silver nanoparticles to give the fabric anti-bacterial properties. The fabric itself, namely the strands of fabric, are not manufactured using silver thread.

The other consideration is that silver at low concentrations is not classed as being toxic to human health. At higher concentrations where is some concern over potential health concerns which may pose a risk. The challenge with antibacterial clothes is knowing the concentration of silver in the clothes and whether the concentrations are less than that which could impact on human health, but more than that which would result in effective antibacterial properties.

Other sources indicate that there is no current evidence that silver-modified medical textiles lead to cytotoxicity, irritation of the skin or argyria. It also appears that they may also no adverse effects on the ecological balance of healthy human skin microflora. It was also found that the use of wound dressings with silver may assist and reduce the time taken for healing as it has been shown to reduce postoperative bacterial infections.

The other point to make is the antibacterial effect is more about bacteria growing within the cloth rather than sterilising surfaces the cloth is used on. This property is possibly so that when the cloth is used, bacteria is prevented from ‘breeding’ within the cloth causing bacterial to be spread on every surface wiped by the cloth.

The above considerations need to be taken when making a decision to purchase silver treated cleaning cloths.

Good question and the silver is a coating applied to the fabric and not say a silver thread woven into the fabric.

What this means is that over time the concentration of silver on the fabric will diminish reducing its antibacterial properties. There is also potential that if bacterial is exposed to low silver concentrations (lower than that which results in the bacteria dying), the bacteria may become resistant to silver making future new cloths antibacterial properties less effective.

Does the cloth come with a useby where the antibacterial properties will be such that the cloth should be discarded…and use limitations, such as don’t wash in detergent/bleach etc as it may strip the silver nanoparticles from the fabric?

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Microfibre has reportedly antimicrobial efficacy already, if looking for virus protection then a cleaning fluid that is effective against viruses needs to be used.

There has been a disscussion of the effectiveness of microfibre on this site already:

One article that seemed to cover all the basics of using these cloths I linked in the article and I have re-posted here:

The silver coating will probably make the cloths smell fresher for longer but the reality is that they should be laundered every day after use to keep them clean so shouldn’t really need the silver coating. They also note that the silver coating isn’t permanent by saying it only lasts 100 washes or thereabouts (they actually say “Silver Treatment is good for over 100 washes” but no hard and fast figure on that). Based on washing them everyday you use them and if used everyday this is about 4 months before the silver coating is no longer present.

Even the statement “Antibacterial microfiber cloth embedded with liquid silver designed to kill bacteria” is a bit of puffery. Liquid silver? It has a high melting point so absolutely doubt it is liquid silver and more likely a silver compound of some type, efficacy then unknown.

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syncretic, many thanks for the response and absolutely agree that we can go overboard trying to steralise life, I think some dirt is good, just not squalor :slight_smile:

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PHB, many thanks for taking time to reply and some very good points indeed. There isn’t a use by date on the cloth and good point about mainly preventing breeding bacteria in the cloth. Think I’ll just follow reasonable cleanliness regimes and not worry too much

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grahroll, many thanks for your response and very interesting points, especially interesting article on microfibre thanks

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