Coated vs. Embedded Coated Antimicrobial Agents

Cleaning agents and products, whether used within the household, for manufacturing or commercial industry, are categorized based on their cleaning claims and ingredients. Several “treated articles” feature antibacterial coatings. An antibacterial coating agent is defined by its application that is bound to a surface with the intention of acting as a continuous protection film against the growth of certain bacteria, mold, mildew, or algae. Embedded antibacterial agents are those that contain an active agent throughout the surface that acts as a continuous film to inhibit the ability of certain bacteria to grow.

Antibacterial coatings are used in various types of industries to create an extra layer of protection. PVC, latex, polyurethane, ink, paint, lacquer, powder coatings, films, etc. are coated onto hard surfaces or textiles, creating goods with new properties or features. In fact, textile surfaces tend to be very easy for microorganisms to thrive in due to the abundance of interstitial spacing between fibers. Smooth hard surfaces are not immune to this, especially commonly used surfaces.

SafeHandles™ spent several years researching, sourcing, prototyping and testing both embedded and surface treatments to produce the most efficacious and durable antimicrobial film to create a self-cleaning door handle cover. Our intention from the get-go was to create handle covers that can maintain clean door knobs, hand railings, and other types of standard door handles by providing a long-lasting self-cleaning surface.

We experimented with titanium dioxide (TiO2) which offered exceptional efficacy; however, it would not bind to a surface or resist wear. Thus its exceptional efficacy would quickly go away with use.

How did we know?
We followed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing protocols.

Our team initially used the JIS-Z2801 Standard testing that measures the antimicrobial activity of a surface over a series of predetermined contact times (such as 1 hour, 8 hours, and 24 hours). However, since this test is only done in a controlled environment in which the surface is undisturbed, we knew this was not the best test to emulate the intended use of our products. Unlike many other popular cleaning products out there, we did not rely on the results of this test to make our self-cleaning product claims.

We found that the best test to identify both the efficacy and durability of antimicrobial film surfaces is the ASTM E2149 Standard test. It is similar to the JIS-Z208 contact test in that it measures antimicrobial activities over a series of predetermined contact times but also includes dynamic contact requirements that simulate accelerated surface wear cycles. It also features re-assessment and measurement of antimicrobial activity.

SafeHandles™ learned that the ASTM-2149 test actually improved the efficacy of embedded agents because as abrading occurs, the grooves and scars in the film’s surface expose more of the embedded particles s. Our research and development cycles revealed that TiO2 and NanoSilver surface coating options did not bind to surfaces sufficiently for our intended use scenarios.

It was evident that other product offerings in the self-cleaning covering market sector were using coated surface treatments in conjunction with a textured film surface, as a means to protect the treated surface. However, this only preserves the treatment in the valleys or low points of the texture, which the user’s hands do not contact when handling the surface. Again, this was not an option for us because of our desired outcome.

It was evident that other product offerings in the self-cleaning covering market sector were using coated surface treatments in conjunction with a textured film surface, as a means to protect the treated surface. However, this only preserves the treatment in the valleys or low points of the texture, which the user’s hands do not contact when handling the surface. Again, this was not an option for us because of our desired outcome.

SafeHandles™ pursued embedded particles as a durable means to ensure the antimicrobial properties remain, regardless of exposure to wear and tear anticipated during the product’s planned useful life. Door handles are unavoidably high touch points, whether at home or in a work environment, and we understand that cleaning a handle every time it is used with an everyday cleaner might not be the most efficient safety practice. Our self-cleaning handle covers are perfect for installing in various environments, inside or outside, including in the home, schools, hospitals, jail facilities, factories, patrol vehicles, and more.

We specifically designed our self-cleaning handle covers to fit all American with Disability Act (ADA) compliant door handles and supplement existing hygiene procedures to ensure residual protection from certain bacteria. The embedded silver protection maintains a clean tape for 24/7, up to 6 months.

After our extensive research and testing, we are proud of the final products. We’ve created covers that can be used on various types of handles around the home and work environment and installed in various ways, including the use of heat-shrinking technology as well as premium adhesives.

Our SafeHandles™ self-cleaning product line includes ADA Door Handle Covers, Ster-Roll* Adhesive Tape, Heat Shrink Sleeves, Elevator Buttons/ADA Push Pad, and our latest addition, the Self-Cleaning Pen. These antimicrobial self-cleaning products efficiently maintain clean surface standards, and set a new standard of clean!