Superman, Batman or Spiderman - who would you choose to protect you?

It has become more and more difficult to wade through the jargon regarding fabric treatments that designers can use to help with the cleanliness and wear and tear in the Healthcare environment.

There are Cryptons, Teflons, Gores, BioAm, Nano-Tex, Perma-Block, Nanocide, PreFixx and Resilience SR are just a few of the treatments that can be used to assist designers in making fabrics more durable, stain resistance and moisture proof. It used to be simple, you could laminate almost any fabric but then it was like sitting on a vinyl table cloth and over time these would fail, cracking and yellowing. Then in 1993 a little fabric was born in a basement in Michigan called Crypton! Crypton was not a vinyl but not a fabric. It seemed to take on the best of each of these materials and open a whole new world of design possiblities in healthcare. In the last ten years designers have been introduced to more and more options but it is becoming less and less clear as to how each of these perform and which would be best for a specific situation.

I have copied descriptions of each of the treatments from their websites to help decipher who can fly and who can spin a web:

Crypton - Crypton is a specially engineered fabric system with an integrated moisture barrier that promises permanent performance. No stains, no spills, no worries. Crypton has been manufacturing upholstery fabrics since 1993, and has over 60 million yards of fabric installed throughout the world. The Crypton fabric line was created and launched by award winning entrepreneurs Craig and Randy Rubin and the upholstery world was revolutionized with the introduction of a superior engineered textile that provides stain resistance, microbial protection, and a permanent moisture barrier.

DuPont HT Teflon Fabric Protector is a water-based fabric treatment process that provides protection against stains and soiling. Treatment with Teflon Fabric Protector does not affect the look or feel of the original fabric. Teflon fabric coating is used for both repellent and release purposes, meaning that it protects against stains by both preventing them and assisting in their removal from fabric.

GORE™ Seating Protection- is a revolutionary new technology for seating textiles. It offers the highest level of upholstery fabric protection and barrier technology for today’s contract textiles. GORE™ Seating Protection prevents stains and other substances from penetrating upholstery fabrics and reaching the foam. This prevents the growth of mold, mildew or bacteria. In addition to the GORE™ moisture barrier, a topical soil/stain treatment is added to extend the life of the fabric’s surface. The superior repellency of this treatment resists stains from penetrating the upholstery fibers. It also leaves fabrics softer with superior hand and excellent upholsterability.

BioAm antimicrobial technology protects against microbes and reduces odors and stains caused by microbes. The finish is friendly to the environment, containing no arsenic or heavy metals, and is effective even after multiple washings.

Nano-Tex - Nano-Tex delivers permanent textile protection that preserves the natural hand of the fabric, repels spills and stains, improves abrasion performance and is environmentally friendly.

Durablock is an additional performance technology that laminates a durable liquid barrier to a textile treated with Nano-Tex®.

Nanocide SilverGuard Silver Ion Technology - SilverGuard is a natural environmentally friendly bacteria-fighting defense to inhibit odor and stain causing bacteria. The technology is EPA registered and FDA approved.

PERMABLOK3® - This proven vinyl protective coating is engineered to create a tough, effective barrier against the three biggest problems encountered in healthcare and hospitality environments. Germs. Abrasion. And stains.

PreFixx - This vinyl finish offers protection against microbes and bacteria. This anti-stain finish is easily cleaned, is urine stain resistant, and mildew resistant on the backing and face.

Resilience SR - Stain resistance, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial protection is available with Resilience SR.

Anti-Microbial Treatment - A special non-leaching treatment effect against "superbugs" such and MRSA, gram positive and gram negative bacteria. Also effective against mold and, fungi and algae. This finish can be used for cubicle, panel, drapery, and upholstery fabrics. This treatment has excellent durability, and will withstand 20-30 washings.

If you take out the Anti-microbial technology and get down to cleaning and moisture barrier the battle turns to Crypton vs. Nano-Tex and Permablock. The largest issue I have found is that some of the fabric Manufacturers will not take care of this process for you and then you become responsible for getting the fabric sent off to be “treated” like the ole days when we used to laminate fabrics. The other issue is that the Crypton is booked or sampled with the treatment while the optional treatments are not which can change the hand of the fabric and the color rendering. I am looking forward to many new innovations as nano technology changes the way we look at fibers and their capabilities. Maybe someday fabrics will really self-heal, not age and save the world like our super heroes.