Can Silver Nanoparticles Combat Your Stink?

Can Silver Nanoparticles Combat Your Stink?


When you’re at the gym working hard, you don’t
get those gains without gaining a bit of sweaty stench, too. Luckily for the right price, clothing manufacturers
offer a remedy. Supposedly stink-free exercise clothes that
have silver nanoparticles embedded into the fabric. It sounds a bit gimmicky, but does it actually
work? And if it does, how do we know that these
particles don’t come out in the wash? Your workout clothes, especially ones made
of polyester, can trap both the bacteria that cause Bo and the fatty acids from your skin
that they feed on. Its a stinky little paradise no matter how
many detergent pods you chuck in there.Fortunately, humanity has known that silver kills bacteria
for thousands of years longer than we’ve known what a bacterium is. Today, silver is used in everything from burn
treatments to food storage and even medical devices. So yeah, it works! Silver is bad news for bacteria. There are multiple ways that can ruin a bacterium
today on a molecular level. Ultimately, silver stops a bacterial cell
from performing very basic chemical processes needed for survival. Recent improvements in technology have allowed
the scale of anti-bacterial silver to reach you to the realm of nanotechnology. We’re talking about particles so small, that
you can fit thousands of them across the thinnest of human hairs. Not all of the methods used to attach silver
to your workout shirts are nanotech in the strictest sense. But there’s a thin line between Nano and non-Nano
when it comes to silver. That’s because silver has an interesting property
where non-nano sized particles releasing silver ions can generate nano sized ones. So even though the word nano is a selling
point for these kinds of products, silver is pretty much Nano whether or not you meant
for it to be. How tightly the silver is attached to the
fabric seems to be more important than the size of the particles, both for killing bacteria
and for the staying power of your fancy shirt. That’s because you want the silver to stay
there so it keeps killing bacteria after you wash it. Methods vary from chemically bonding the silver
directly to the polyester fiber of the garment to integrating the silver coated threads into
the fabric. Nanotech is trending and all, but clothing
treated with silver can release some of that silver out into the environment when it’s
washed. Losing the silver particles from your exercise
clothes is a double whammy. Not only will the gear lose its special anti
stench abilities, but the particles will also end up in our wastewater. This may be trouble, because we don’t know
the long-term effects that these silver particles can have on the environment. A few have shown that silver can be harmful
to fish – at least in a lab setting and at high enough concentrations they can be harmful
to humans, too. Luckily research shows that even incredibly
small amounts of silver are effective against bacteria. The less silver that’s put into a garment,
the less it will leach out in the environment, when it’s washed and eventually thrown into
a landfill. So the goal for researchers is to get as much
bang for their silver buck as possible, using smaller amounts that stick more tightly to
garments. That will improve the anti-stink performance
of your gym shorts, which means that you’ll hopefully wash them less. Which means you’ll use less water and less
silver will leak out in the environment. Thanks for watching folks and thanks to Timothy
Peterson for asking. If you’ve got chemistry questions, stick them
in the comments or throw us a tweet. Let’s see those gains, too! Before you head to the gym, remember to subscribe,
share and turn on notifications, so we could see again soon.

17 Comments

  1. Researchers studying Pseudomonas bacteria found that dead bacteria that were killed by silver could go on to kill other bacteria through silver reserves built up in their tiny little corpses. So, zombie bacteria, basically. Source: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/05/silver-turns-bacteria-deadly-zombies

  2. Silver in clothes = jacked-up prices by sellers.

    Y'know, cotton has been around for centuries, too. It breathes. It wicks. It helps you stay cool.

    Antiperspirant helps control stink. It gets reapplied, so you don't have to worry about it disappearing.

    NOW! Has anyone done an environmental impact study on ALUMINUM SALTS used in antiperspirants? These go into waste water through showering DAILY by MILLIONS of people who don't even work out at a gym!
    Let's do that study first.

  3. Just a heads up… People will often wear comfortable exercise clothing when going in to get an MRI. If your clothing has silver coated threading, it can heat up in the MRI and potentially burn you. This is a relatively new clothing innovation and therefore not all MRI techs are aware they should be warning patients.

  4. Hmm, this makes me wonder if I spritz a super dilute solution of AgNO3 on my clean clothing; if this could help me not stink by day's end. I'm a medical biller by trade and fighting with insurance companies that don't want to pay REALLY works up a mean sweat.

  5. but, but.. you didn't explain why silver kills bacteria, that "yeah, it works" it's a bit unprofessional, especially in a science channel, also is the bacteria the only source of stink?

  6. What are the long term affects on humans? If silver "leaches" nano silver particles, some of them are certainly getting absorbed into the skin. Marketing is what's killing us and this planet. Throw out your scented pods and softeners. I've been using unscented detergent and no softener for years and have had no stinky clothes.

  7. So we're putting silver in clothes just in order to not stink during exercises, even though this could have a harmful outcome for the environment. Could we, like, just stink, like normal human beings who exercise? Please don't buy these clothes.

  8. Sorry but no matter how big the impact on the environment is, as long as there IS one, I don't see why you would advertise this. Even if I'm a chemistry student who can see why this is fancy and all.

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