Indicator textiles protect sensitive skin

Those who suffer from sensitive skin know the problem: Freshly washed laundry can lead to itching and redness. The culprit is often an aggressive detergent that was not completely removed by rinsing. It is particularly problematic for children who are suffering from eczema – 10 to 15 per cent of all children and adolescents suffer from this incurable skin disease. Researchers at Joanneum Research have found a way to identify alkaline detergent residues. They have attached indicator dyes to fabrics which display the pH of washing solutions or shower gels by a colour change. So you can see whether the detergent that you use is problematic for your skin. The textile indicator material exhibits a colour change from green to red, when the pH value is not in skin-friendly range ​​around 5-6, but is in the aggressive alkaline pH range > 8.

The indicator textiles are useful for manufacturers of dermatological washing agents and personal care products, who want to prove their washing lotions to be hypoallergenic and pH neutral. This not only applies for soaps, shampoos and shower gels, but also for ecological laundry nuts and fabric softeners. Manufacturers of detergents for example may provide their customer with laundry nets containing an integrated colour label. This will show, whether alkaline detergent residues are still left in the clothes, which is important for dermatitis patients and babies in order to prevent skin irritation and rashes.

Also conceivable are labels in high quality garments, which not only give the usual washing and ironing instructions, but at the same time prove through colour changes whether or not the alkaline detergent was completely removed from the fabric. Other possible uses include indicator labels for efficient and economical rinsing of the washing machine, or for the fast and easy examination of hospital laundry with respect to residues of alkaline detergents.

The indicator textile developed at Joanneum Research can be sewn, embroidered, applied via transfer printing, and are compatible with the current manufacturing processes in the textile industry.