Silver Ions: How They Keep Us Safe

Silver Ions

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, many people have become more vigilant about keeping their environment clean. This has led to more intentional steps toward finding safe and healthy disinfecting agents and cleaners that are highly efficient. Did you know that cleaners with silver ions are considered one of the best options by scientists?

Silver ions are clusters of tiny particles that disinfect due to their antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Embedded in materials, such as our SafeHandles™ self-cleaning sleeves and tapes, they help to keep surfaces clean.


The antimicrobial properties of silver have been known and used around the world for centuries. Traditionally, tests to ascertain how silver ions work have been done using the bioassay technique, wherein a test is done on a test organism and compared with a control or standard and untreated organism to see the effects. These tests work to an extent, except they don’t quite show the full process. They only produce some snapshots at a time.

While there has been no concrete evidence on how exactly these small but powerful particles work, there have been studies that have come close to expressing this. One such study was carried out by scientists associated with the University of Arkansas. They sought to test the result of silver ions on E.coli, a bacterium commonly found in the human intestines, which can lead to severe food poisoning. The study observed the dynamics of the proteins at a molecular level, within live E.coli bacteria.

Using an advanced imaging technique, known as the single-particle-tracking photoactivated localization microscopy, a particular protein in the E.coli bacteria was observed and tracked over a specific period of time. The study revealed that the silver ions didn’t just suppress and kill the bacteria, it actually sped up the dynamics of the protein which led to it being detached from the DNA. The silver ions caused all paired strands of DNA within the bacteria to separate thus weakening the bond between the protein and the DNA. Proteins are bound to DNA, which forms a huge molecule in the bacteria, they move slowly. This is why they remain on surfaces and “build-up” for such long periods. The study showed that when the bacteria were treated with silver ions, the proteins were separated from the DNA and moving by themselves. So, while the test didn’t specifically reveal how it works, it explained why it kills microbes so quickly.

What Are Silver Ions Used In

Silver ions are used in the biochemical industry in several products, some of which we ingest, and some we use as antibacterials. These include wound dressings, creams, antibiotics, and as a coating for clothing and some medical-grade cleaning devices. In most industries, the aim of the silver ion embedded as an antimicrobial coating or infused in the product is to weaken and kill DNA in bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.

As the industries become more commercialized, however, silver alternatives that are easier to produce have been introduced for quick profits. These alternatives have proven to do more harm than good. Colloidal silver, for example, which is widely used in many cleaning products is simply unsafe and ineffective. It’s so unsafe that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warning letters to firms including colloidal silver marketers for selling products with false and misleading claims to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). So be on the look-out for these.

Silver Ions and Germs

The antimicrobial activity and mechanism of silver ions have gained broad attention in recent years. The separation of DNA and protein in bacteria was observed as a result of previous studies on bent DNA by scientists at the University of Arkansas. That study intended to find out what strain can be introduced on DNA strands that cause them to bend then become vulnerable to antimicrobial cleaning chemicals, including silver ions. The researchers believed that investigating the dynamics of single proteins in live bacteria can be a start to finding out how silver nanoparticles work in real-time to eliminate bacteria. They have been commonly used to fight against superbugs that are resistant to common antibacterials.

Silver Ions in SafeHandles™ Self-Cleaning Products

In order to introduce a long-lasting self-cleaning product that eliminates the build-up of germs, we began our quest for the best and most efficient chemical to embed in our products. We spent several years testing and researching surface treatments to produce the most efficacious and durable antibacterial coating to use in our self-cleaning surface covers.

Our self-cleaning covers are designed specifically to maintain clean surfaces that are high-touch points. These include handlebars, doorknobs, hand railings, and other types of standard Americans with Disability Act (ADA) door handles.

Using testing protocols by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we sought to test the best active agent to embed in our products. At first, we tried titanium dioxide but that proved to be inferior to the efficacy of embedded products. We quickly found that silver has the most efficient properties and proceeded with our standard tests. We did the JIS-Z2801 standard testing, which measures the antimicrobial activity of a surface over a series of predetermined contact times (such as 1 hour, 8 hours, and 24 hours), but we found that this was not the best test for our desired outcome. Funnily, this test is a standard test done by popular cleaning brands. But, 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. Since we seek to bring high-quality products with the appropriate labels and claims, we could not stop there.

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

We 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.

SafeHandles™ pursued embedded particles as a durable means to ensure the antibacterial properties remain on our products, regardless of exposure to wear and tear, which is anticipated during the product’s lifespan. The technology we utilize features a slow-release silver-based pesticide that is registered and approved by the EPA to inhibit the growth of certain microbes that may come in contact with the product.

Door handles are unavoidably high touchpoints, 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, which are available in clear or medical blue colors, are perfect for installing indoor or outdoor in various environments, including in the home, schools, hospitals, jail facilities, factories, patrol vehicles, etc.

We specifically designed our self-cleaning handle covers to fit all types of Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant door handles and to 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. This means, once installed on door handles, our sleeves and adhesive tapes work all day to maintain a clean handle surface for a long time. Whether used indoor or outdoor, our durable heat-shrink or adhesive handle covers offer an unparalleled level of clean to keep your home, facility, or office space clean. They are non-toxic and odorless, making them 100% safe for everyone; kids and the elderly included. They are also dry to the touch and do not tear or fall off easily. Unlike typical cleaners or medical covers, our products are self-cleaning and perfect for installing in any environment. They do not require any special skills to install and are just as easy to uninstall – without leaving any residue on your handles. The revolutionary technology is a passive system that works continuously to protect itself to ensure your handles are clean and durable!

We are proud of our final antimicrobial products that have been embedded with silver, as they help to offer an unparalleled level of clean and peace of mind to all our users. SafeHandles™ films are fundamentally cleaner and more durable than untreated handles, so they are ideal for use in high-traffic environments where cleanliness is critical, where users need to eliminate filthy handles. Our germ-protection devices range from shrink-wrap sleeves, custom adhesive wrappers, and SafeHandles tape and contain EPA-approved materials used to inhibit the spread of germs.

Check out our online store for our SafeHandles™ self-cleaning product line, which 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!.

What are you waiting for? If you have not yet done so, go ahead and stock up on our SafeHandles™ self-cleaning range of products for lasting protection, today! Worldwide shipping available.