Examining the Potential for Bacterial Build-up on Apparel Fabrics with Repeated Use - A Laboratory Study

  • Author / Creator
    Brown, Skylar
  • When clothing is worn multiple times by a consumer, a build-up of oily soils, dirt, odours, and bacteria can transfer from the wearer to the garment. The bacteria that have been transferred to the garment may result in unwanted odours. Over time, this accumulation of bacteria may cause persistent odours that remain in clothing even after laundering. In addition, fibre type may influence how textiles retain and transfer bacteria. The purpose of this in vitro laboratory study was to examine if bacteria can accumulate in apparel fabrics with repeated use/laundering cycles. Three inoculation/wash levels were used (1, 2, 5). Cotton and polyester fabrics were inoculated with Staphylococcus aureus and later laundered. After laundering, bacterial counts from cotton and polyester fabric specimens were calculated in colony forming units (CFU) per sample. Three groups of fabric specimens were used in this study, baseline, treatment, and control. Baseline specimens were used to provide an initial bacterial count of the treatment fabrics to investigate if there was a build-up of bacteria after laundering the treatment specimens. The control fabrics were used to examine the transference of bacteria between fabrics during washing. No differences were found in log CFU per sample of S. aureus on treatment fabrics as the number of inoculation/laundering cycles increased. This suggests that bacteria did not accumulate on either cotton or polyester fabrics as the number of cycles increased. The transfer of bacteria between fabrics during the wash cycle was also examined in this research. It was found that bacteria transferred from the inoculated fabrics to the control fabrics during laundering. The transference of bacteria was minimal for cotton and polyester fabrics. Despite the expectation that bacteria would build-up as the number of inoculation/wash cycles increased, there was no evidence for this in the current study. While laundering can reduce the bacterial counts laundering was not sufficient in removing all S. aureus colonies from both cotton and polyester specimens.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.