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Textile materials are usually sterilised with chemicals like sodium hypochlorite, and temperatures up to boiling point. Chemical treatment poses two potential problems: firstly, a negative effect on strength properties of the textile fabric, and secondly, the fact that harmful chemicals are discarded into the environment. Electro-chemically activated water (ECA) is produced by an anode-cathode system, with water and diluted NaCl being the only raw products used. After production the Anolyte exists in a metastable state, containing free radicals and a variety of molecules and very high oxidation-reduction potential. However, the Anolyte returns to a stable state after 48 hours and therefore it is not a threat to the environment when discarded after use.
Cotton, polyester and polyester/cotton swatches were inoculated respectively with Escherichia coli and Staphylococus aureus. The swatches were laundered using AATCC Test Method 61-2009 at temperatures of 24 °C, 30 °C and 60 °C. Dilutions were prepared and surface plated on nutrient agar and incubated. Bacterial counts were reported as number of bacteria or colony forming units (cfu) per ml.
Although a reduction in bacterial count was found after laundering with all treatments, the Anolyte proved to be the most effective of all treatments since there was no bacterial survival after treatment, irrespective of the temperature. Therefore, Anolyte could be a viable alternative to current sterilizing agents without posing an environmental threat.