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If you own anti-bacterial clothing—and you probably do, if you have workout gear—you might be destroying its germ-fighting abilities without even knowing it. According to Student Science, a new study from Switzerland has found that harsh detergents could be stripping away the coatings that protect your clothing.
All anti-bacterial clothing (including stuff like hospital gowns) is covered in a super thin coating of silver nano particles. Silver has been found to be very effective at killing bacteria and preventing those funky post-workout odors.
Yet, a study conducted by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology found that harsh detergents containing bleach and other cleaners causes cracks on the surface of the silver particles to widen. These cracks can eventually lead to the silver breaking off and heading down the drain with your wastewater.
To make matters worse, Student Science adds that the silver particles can release silver ions, which are toxic and could harm wildlife and microbes vital to the ecosystem.
Unfortunately, the study found that even the milder detergents on the market can cause silver particles to come off, so it's unclear what can be done to fully prevent this problem.
Until scientists come up with a solution, your best bet is to use a delicate detergent and delicate cycles on these types of clothing, lest you want to wash away that precious silver.