Schematic Diagram showing transmission of viruses from different surfaces to human © Hohenstein Institute

Any woven or non-woven material made from synthetic or natural material is a Textile. Textile products include a broad variety of applications in fields such as clothes, food manufacturing, building goods, automobile industry, military, medical industry, sporting equipment, livestock, and home furnishing. Properties of textiles such as high-temperature stability, elasticity, waterproof, biodegradability, or having antimicrobial activity are determined by the basis of use.

Textiles may help contribute to the transmission of pathogens. Viruses do not have their own metabolism and can thus only live outside a host for a short amount of time, they do not reproduce there unlike bacteria. Even as the hands can collect and disperse germs that cause infection, so can textiles. Textiles that come in daily touch with hands have been shown to lead to the transmission of viruses.  It is believed that clothes and medical textiles, such as bed sheets and towels, might theoretically spread a virus if viruses were infected on the inside.

COVID-19 can be transmitted from an infected person by exhaling or emitting body fluids or virus-containing aerosol particles which are then attached to the surfaces and then the receiver comes in contact with it.

Additional experiments are desperately required to curtail the transmission of viral infections. The usage of respiratory protection equipment has been proven to be an important non-pharmaceutical technique to mitigate the transmission of respiratory viruses, especially when used in close touch with a person with symptoms.

A lot of oppurtunities have been created for the application of innovative finishes due to rapid growth in technical textiles and their end uses. Antiviral finishes can be applied onto fabrics using many methods- Present nanotechnology developments provide a forum to reduce the possibility of infectious agent transmission. A possible path to this perspective is equipping antiviral elements for the personal protective devices. Such an essential switch can be achieved by incorporating the antiviral nanomaterials in the fibers or non-woven fabrics that are typically used as facial protective materials. Eco friendly or sustainable methods are also being used these days in order to get antiviral finish on textiles. For example the use of chitosan and natural dyes has been seen to be working. Other herbal methods like tulsi, aloevera, tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil are also being used as a finish. Researchers and scientists are also working towards use of various chemicals like sodium pentaborate pentahydrate and triclosan to cotton fabrics in order to gain antimicrobial and antiviral properties.

This article is a review of antiviral and anti microbial finish found out by the scientists from the Hohenstein Institute in Bönnigheim using various organic and inorganic colloidal or nanoparticle copper compounds and copper complexes.

Agents used in finishing

The materials and agents required in this process are organic or inorganic colloidal or nanoparticle copper compounds, copper complexes, any acidic medium,  dispersed dye, polymer binding agent.


Few scientists researched the antiviral properties and pathways of nanoparticles dependent on the copper oxide (CuO NPs). This metal oxide and especially it’s nanoparticles will kill the virus’ integrity. Researchers have showed that CuO NPs had an excellent anti-HSV-1 virus activity at the maximum non-toxic concentration of CuO NPs (100 μg / mL), as the cell survival rate exceeded 83.3 per cent when CuO NPs were co-cultured with HSV-1 infected cells.The copper ions emitted from CuO NPs catalyze manufacturing reactive oxygen species ( ROS) that may break the stability of the HSV capsides and kill the whole genome.


The research concept included cleaning cloths in which antiviral and antibacterial effectiveness were integrated in one practical textile finish for the first time.

Color Difference in fabric before and after finishing with copper pigments © Hohenstein Institute

The sol-gel process was used where organic and inorganic or nanoparticle copper compounds and copper complexes were first applied to get antiviral finish. Using different application techniques such as foulard or spray methods, the effectiveness of the textile microfibre substrate was enhanced. The test viruses were significantly inactivated, retained over 15 washing cycles and were at the same time abrasion-resistant. 

A new alternate antiviral finish was obtained for microfibre cloths by finishing in a high-temperature exhaust cycle with copper pigments. In a slightly acid environment, the dispersed copper pigments were incorporated into the fibers in a similar manner to dying with dispersion dyes. In a second stage, fixation was done in a cold padding method using a polymer binding agent to protect the copper particles against mechanical abrasion. These copper finishes also produced smoothness, but compared to the originally lighter fabric color there was a slight green tone.

Testing Methods

Laboratory testing for removal of pathogens, microbes and molds on structures in practical conditions using cleaning cloths ©Hohenstein Institute

Different materials such as glass, stainless steel or wood, polluted with viruses were used to check the viability of the finish and thus were cleaned with the antiviral finished cleaning cloths.  The research virus was used as the bacterial virus MS2, a non-pathogenic synthetic virus which is comparable with clinically important viruses such as norovirus, poliovirus, hepatitis A or enterovirus due to its composition and environmental stability.

 91 per cent of the viruses used were captured by the finished microfibre cloths. At the same time, the concentration of the virus in the fabric has been decreased by around 90%. Pursuant to requirements (DIN EN ISO 20743 and EN 14119), effectiveness studies against bacteria and mould were also carried out. For this research set-up the finishes have been targetedly configured.

The test results showed that antiviral cleaning cloths have an important hygienic impact and may help minimize the risk of germ transmission i.e. pathogens and viruses.

End Use

This fabric has innumerable end uses specially in the medical field as protective equipment, on masks and gloves.Nevertheless, antiviral finish can be incorporated in fabrics which may be of benefit in the household setting, clinics, aged people’s residences, nursing homes and civic centres (e.g. canteens) and fire department, ambulance services and military protective equipment. It can also be used in Kindergartens and day-care facilities. 



Keeping in mind the widespread of Covid-19 disease, it is necessary to optimize innovations like antimicrobial and antiviral finish in everyday products as well. Researchers and scientists are already working towards it. 

Nanoparticles of copper are commonly used in antibacterial and antiviral materials because of their low size, excellent stability and strong antiviral properties. It was also seen that it kills the virus integrity within seconds and stops the growth of the genome. Therefore, the use of copper and its complexes is a good method to get anti viral finishes.

This process can be used not only in medical applications but also for everyday usage clothing items and advanced textiles production. Newly designed antimicrobial textiles are approved for usage in the military, health care, work / uniforms, home fashions and household goods, as well as athletic clothing in the future. With these latest innovations, customers’ rising needs of antimicrobial textiles are being addressed in relation to safety, human health and the climate.



1.“Zeynep Ustaoglu Iyigundogdu & Okan Demir  & Ayla Burcin Asutay & Fikrettin Sahin, (2017)  “Developing Novel Antimicrobial and Antiviral Textile Products”

  1. Jiliang Zhou1  · Zexu Hu1  · Fatemeh Zabihi1  · Zhigang Chen1  · Meifang Zhu, (23 June 2020), “Progress and Perspective of Antiviral Protective Material”