Increased acid-resistance of lab-coats by hydrophobic finishing

Erik Hilenberg (Faculty of Engineering and Mathematics, Fachhochschule Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany)
Ersin Taskin (Faculty of Engineering and Mathematics, Fachhochschule Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany)
Andrea Ehrmann (Faculty of Engineering and Mathematics, Fachhochschule Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany)

International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology

ISSN: 0955-6222

Publication date: 5 November 2018



Usual lab coats are designed to protect the wearer from the splats of chemicals, oil, dirt, etc. Simple lab coats are damaged by concentrated acids, thus quickly showing typical small holes along the front when worn in a laboratory where acids are used. For intense handling of acids and other chemicals, special protective lab coats with rubber or vinyl apron or chemical-resistant overalls are used. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the possibility to protect lab coats from acid damages by finishing them with commercially available hydrophobization chemicals.


Two commercial hydrophobic sprays were applied on cotton, polyamide and polyester lab coat materials. Contact and roll-off angles were compared with the untreated textile fabrics before typical laboratory acids were applied on the fabrics. Finally, antibacterial properties of the finished textiles were examined.


Spray 1 resulted in significantly increased hydrophobicity, while spray 2 did not have any influence on the results. With spray 1, the originally hydrophobic fabrics became more hydrophobic, and even the originally strongly hydrophilic fabrics showed large contact angles of 130–140°. Roll-off angles were significantly reduced from 40 to 50° (for the hydrophobic fabrics) or even 90° (in case of hydrophilic fabrics) to approximately 15–25°. Correspondingly, spray 1 showed an increase of the acid resistance of the finished textile fabrics of up to 30 min for the originally hydrophobic fabrics and up to 20 min for the originally hydrophilic ones, with only one polyester fabric showing no acid resistance at all, while spray 2 led to increased antibacterial properties.

Practical implications

While spray 1 can support laboratory safety by increasing the time until acids penetrate through a lab coat, spray 2 can support sterile work in a biological laboratory.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, increasing the acid resistance as well as the antibacterial properties of lab coats with easily accessible sprays has not been reported before in the scientific literature.



Hilenberg, E., Taskin, E. and Ehrmann, A. (2018), "Increased acid-resistance of lab-coats by hydrophobic finishing", International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 784-789.

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