Bamboo reaches maturity in about three to four years as compared to 25 to 70 years for other commercial tree species, and thus is a leading option in the so-called "ethically produced" clothing market. Appidi, however, says that untreated bamboo fabric lets the sun's damaging UV radiation pass through and reach the skin. Contrary to popular belief that bamboo fabric has anti-bacterial properties, he has found that untreated bamboo fabric does not live up to anti-microbial expectations. "All cellulose fibres allow more moisture to leak in and provide more food for bacteria to eat. That's why bacteria grow more on natural fibres rather than synthetic fibres," says Addipi, adding that the resulting bacterial blooms can lead to unpleasant odours and unsanitary clothing.
To make bamboo fabric UV-resistant, Appidi coloured pieces of commercially-available bamboo cloth in a dye laced with UV absorbing chemicals. And to make the fabric antibacterial, the researcher treated pieces of commercially purchased bamboo fabric with Tinosan, one of the better antibacterial agents on the market right now.
The treatment led to a 75 to 80 per cent bacterial reduction, a significant improvement over untreated bamboo fabric. There was also a profound increase in UV protection. Appidi is, currently, exploring ways to attain 99 per cent bacterial reduction in bamboo fabric, which may get them in hospitals, and eventually store shelves. Although preliminary findings suggest that the UV and microbial protection remain after washing, the researcher insists that insight the effect of multiple laundry cycles is also necessary.