Students Creating Safer PPE for Frontline Workers


University of Kentucky students in the Textile Testing Laboratory are helping develop durable, reusable personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers.

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment houses the lab, which specialises in testing fabrics and materials for the textile industry to make sure they stand up to proper safety protocols and industry standards. One of the most critical responsibilities is the personal protective equipment (PPE) health care workers use in their daily jobs.

UK’s primary PPE testing involves apparel such as isolation and medical gowns.

“Isolation gowns are vital in protecting the health care worker from COVID-19. We test the durability of reusable gowns. Before the pandemic, the majority of all isolation gowns were disposable.”

Thanks to the testing lab, health care workers can use at least five different types of gowns for up to 75 wash cycles. However, the lab doesn’t stop there. Students test everything from lab coats to firefighting PPE.

Since 1988, the University of Kentucky Textile Testing Lab has received continuous funding from the Association for Linen Management (ALM), a group dedicated to the professional development of personnel in the textile care industry. The lab helps provide the ALM’s members with a test-piece service, a quality control tool that enables linen managers to monitor their ability to maintain aesthetically pleasing and durable textiles.

Student lab technicians prepare and evaluate the test piece and then measure the strength of the test piece to determine the durability and the whiteness index for aesthetics.

To find out more about the work being done at the University of Kentucky, click here.