Durable and disinfectable materials that can hold up to continuous cleanings have become increasingly critical in today’s climate. Diluted chlorine bleach has been used for decades as a steadfast disinfectant and stain solution. When searching for textiles that are equipped to tackle today’s challenges, options that boast bleach cleanability are in demand and desirable for use across a wide range of interior applications from residential to healthcare—in any area that requires regular disinfecting or sterilizing. The information below unpacks what it means for a material to be considered bleach cleanable and explores the advantages that come with the host of hard-wearing and high-performance constructions that fall under this category.
How is bleach cleanability identified?
A material is considered to be bleach cleanable if it does not weaken or fade when exposed to bleach. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a 1:10 diluted solution of household bleach is recommended for disinfecting or sterilizing use. As such, any fabric that can withstand this ratio of one-part sodium hypochlorite to ten parts water can be called bleach cleanable.
Which types of fabrics and fibers are bleach cleanable?
As a strong disinfectant and powerful cleaner with a broad spectrum of bactericidal properties, bleach possesses the power to degrade dyes and weaken yarns. Woven fabrics that use solution dyed fibers act as ideal bleach cleanability candidates since they are able to exhibit strong colorfastness when exposed to diluted bleach solutions. Such solution dyed fibers include constructions of acrylic, nylon, polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyester yarns that are colored with high-energy dyes. Fabrics made from these types of fiber benefit from color pigments that are integrated throughout the fiber, rather than just on the surface. Because the color runs throughout the fiber, rather than just on its surface, the fabric is able to retain and hold its color after exposure to harsh cleaners and chemicals. Moreover, many bleach cleanable fabrics have additional stain resistant and antibacterial finishes, as well as moistures barriers for added protection.
What applications and environments are ideal for bleach cleanability?
While the benefits of bleach cleanability were once restricted to smaller selections of vinyl and polyurethane-based textiles for use in healthcare environments, the options have since expanded to accommodate a diverse array of interior settings and applications. Characteristics of bleach cleanability can be incorporated into wallcoverings, upholstery, textiles, and even paint. And there continues to be a growing need for an assortment of bleach cleanable products. “Products that are bleach cleanable and can be disinfected with List N cleaning agents, which act on a variety of viruses, are in increasing demand,” says Marybeth Shaw, Chief Creative Officer of Wolf-Gordon, which offers a wide range of bleach cleanable collections including paint and wallcoverings, as well as performance, coated, and woven upholsteries. Though their purposes were once siloed into healthcare settings, specifiers for other environments have since turned to bleach cleanable materials. “My guess is that their usage will go beyond healthcare environments, and into hospitality, institutional, and corporate interiors in the coming months and years,” adds Shaw.
As today’s climate continues to take heed of hygienic practices with a new sense of urgency, having an understanding of the performance attributes associated with bleach cleanable materials is increasingly important.