If you're worried that the silver ions in antibacterial and anti-odor clothing might also pose serious health risks, like destroying genetic material, you'll be glad to hear that there should soon be a safer alternative. The KTH Royal Institute of Technology has developed an antibacterial thread that uses a mix of bio-compatible plastics and lanosol, a bacteria-fighting compound that you normally find in red algae. The material should not only be a less contentious germ-killer than silver, but more effective. Because it's woven into super-thin fibers through electrospinning (which uses electrical charges to draw thread from liquid), the antiseptic element doesn't clump up and leave some areas unprotected.
KTH's discovery could make antibacterial clothing commonplace, which would undoubtedly be welcome to anyone who hates dealing with smelly laundry. However, that's just the start of its potential uses. The researchers believe that it could be used for air filters, bandages and other fabrics where the presence of microbes would be unpleasant or outright dangerous. Don't be surprised if you eventually see a lot of companies, not just fashion brands, touting algae-based safeguards.
[Image credits: Shutterstock / Ljupco Smokovski, KTH Royal Institute of Technology]