Do you need antimicrobial fabrics in medical uniforms?

You may be wondering if you need antimicrobial fabrics in your medical uniforms. There is a lot of debate about this topic, but the answer largely depends on your profession and what type of setting you’re working in.

Fabric that has been treated or infused with one of many kinds of substances that discourage bacteria, viruses, or fungi to flourish within its fibre, is known as antimicrobial fabric. 

Natural anti-microbial fabric

Antimicrobial fabrics include polyester, vinyl, polyester-vinyl composites, and acrylics and they provide increased protection for the user from pathogenic microorganisms. 

Linen is an all-natural fabric that has antimicrobial properties due to its superior moisture-wicking abilities. It is super soft, very comfortable, and sustainable and therefore ideal for uniforms.

Merino wool is another natural fabric that has antimicrobial properties and is breathable. It is also anti-static, anti-wrinkle, stain-resistant, and biodegradable and great for colder climates too.


Artificially treated microbial fabrics

There are 2 types of artificially treated microbial fabrics…

  1. Those with antimicrobial agents within the fibres of the fabric
  2. Those with an antimicrobial coating on the surface of the fabric

The effectiveness of microbial fabric lies in its ability to fend off microorganisms, and its ability to prolong the life of the fabric.

Microorganisms can live and grow in a fabric, like the ones that grow your clothes!

When you take off your clothing after wearing them for some time, do they smell kind of funky?

That’s because microorganisms are alive on all parts of any garment.

These microbes have been found to be inhaled or ingested while we wear our clothes. Who knows what other things these organisms might accidentally pass onto us if it weren’t for washing our clothes with detergent?!

Healthcare uniform fabrics

Fabrics in the healthcare industry should be designed with protection in mind and therefore one can see the growing popularity of such materials for not only uniforms, but also for hospital blankets, bedding, and even mattresses.

Including a pathogen-fighting layer of defence, prolongs the life of the uniforms by protecting the fabric surface from microbes.

Associated infections

Health care-associated infections (HCAI) are a problem within the health care industry because uniforms can get contaminated which poses a risk to patients.

Therefore, more and more medical institutions are using antimicrobial fabrics for their medical uniforms since they are seen as a means of inhibiting these infections.

No such thing as a sterile environment

Some studies have proved that clothing worn by healthcare workers can become contaminated by bacteria despite wearing clothes made of fabrics treated with antimicrobial properties. 

That’s simply because anti-microbial properties in uniform fabrics aren’t 100% effective.

While most antimicrobial fabric scrubs are primarily preventing the spread of bacteria like E.Coli, Salmonella, Staph, MRSA in hospitals, they are not of much use in the case of viruses.

While bacteria thrive in warm, damp environments, viruses live longer on surfaces like stainless steel.


It is evident that there are both pros and cons in the use of antimicrobial fabrics for medical uniforms.

While they certainly do provide an increased level of protection for the wearer, and patients alike, they are not foolproof.

If you need help figuring out what uniforms to provide for your staff, contact are medical uniform specialists today!