We are Elrha, a force for change in the humanitarian community. The research and innovation we support equips the humanitarian community with the knowledge of what works, so people affected by crises get the right help when they need it most.
Our purpose is clear: to empower the humanitarian community to improve humanitarian response. We make this happen by supporting and championing the outcomes of robust research and proven innovations.
We empower the humanitarian community. Find out how we can support you...


Handwashing is an important intervention which can reduce indirect disease transmission, however soap and water for handwashing purposes is not available in some low-resource regions. When handwashing with soap and water is not possible, individuals may use alternatives such as the Supertowel (a microfiber towel with an antimicrobial coating). Testing of viral inactivation as a result of antimicrobial treatment on the Supertowel, however, has been limited. The goal of this study is to provide information about the performance of the Supertowel’s antimicrobial treatment against viruses, which will help inform the use of the towels as handwashing alternatives.


We seeded the Supertowel and a regular microfiber towel with two bacte-riophages (enveloped Phi6 and non-enveloped MS2) and monitored viral inactivation over time. Additionally, we assessed if temperature, humidity, whether the towel was initially wet or dry, or virus type had an effect on viral decay rate constants. Virus concentrations were measured repeatedly over 24 h.


We found that neither towel type (whether the towel was a Supertowel or a regular microfiber towel) nor humidity were significant variables in our model of decay rate constants (P = 0.06 and P = 0.22, respectively). We found that the variables of temperature, whether towels were initially wet versus dry, and virus type were significantly different from 0, suggesting that these variables explained variance in the decay rate constant (P = 6.55 × 10−13, P = 0.001, and P < 2 × 10−16, respectively). Higher temperatures, dry towels, and enveloped viruses all resulted in increases in the decay rate constant.


Viruses seeded onto a Supertowel decay similar to viruses seeded onto a regular towel indicating that the virucidal potential of the Supertowel is minimal.

Download here

Subscribe to our newsletters....

Elrha © 2018 - 2023 Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110). KEEP IN TOUCH Want to stay up to date with our latest updates? Sign up to our newsletters
Elrha Please upgrade your browser

You are seeing this because you are using a browser that is not supported. The Elrha website is built using modern technology and standards. We recommend upgrading your browser with one of the following to properly view our website:

Windows Mac

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of browsers. We also do not intend to recommend a particular manufacturer's browser over another's; only to suggest upgrading to a browser version that is compliant with current standards to give you the best and most secure browsing experience.