By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on April 11, 2023, that its Agricultural Research Service (ARS) recently developed sustainable, machine-washable antimicrobial wipes that can be used at least 30 times for cleaning hard and nonporous surfaces. According to USDA, ARS researchers developed the antimicrobial wipes “by using raw cotton fiber that naturally produced silver nanoparticles inside the fiber in the presence of a silver precursor.” USDA states that the embedded silver nanoparticles then release silver ions that act as antibacterial agents and kill harmful bacteria. USDA notes that in their research, scientists found that the wipes killed 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria S. aureus and P. aeruginosa on surfaces.
USDA states that the advantages to this technology include omitting the conventional pretreatments of raw cotton fibers (such as scouring and bleaching), which consume a large number of chemicals and energy, and not requiring any chemical agents except for a silver precursor. According to USDA, the technology “also transforms cotton fibers themselves into antimicrobial agents rather than serving as a carrier of antimicrobial agents, which is what makes them reusable.” USDA notes that the antimicrobial wipes are made from “natural cotton fibers, rather than conventional petroleum-based synthetic fibers.” The wipes can be reused by being washed in the laundry.
More information on the antimicrobial wipes is available in an article in Molecules entitled “Washable Antimicrobial Wipes Fabricated from a Blend of Nanocomposite Raw Cotton Fiber.”