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The type of the base material and how it is constructed is the most important factor in barrier performance.
Think about this analogy: if wearing a tee shirt in the rain – does a heavier material repel the water any better than a lighter material? Of course not. A different material – such as the material in a raincoat – does the trick! So material choice in gowns is the #1 factor in your gown barrier.

The majority of veterinary gowns are made of one of these base materials: Cotton/Muslin, Spunlaced Polyester or Spunbond-Meltblown- Spunbond (called SMS). By far – on all measures – SMS is the best material for gowns.

Spunbond-Meltblown- Spunbond (SMS)

  • Strengths
    o Breathable
  • Allows steam to pass through (as sterilization wrap)
  • Allows heat to escape (for gown wearers)
    o Unbelievable barrier for its basis weight
  • Spunbond layers – softer for comfort
  • Excellent barrier, even in light basis weights
  • Lowest Cost (by far) due to high demand/use in human surgery
  • Weaknesses
    o Not as soft as cotton

Spunlaced Polyester

  • Strengths
    o Comfortable
    o Recognizable in veterinary surgery
  • Weaknesses
    o Must be reinforced in critical zones to prevent strikethrough
    o Even when treated/coated, provides poor barrier when pressure applied (i.e., leaning into the gown)
    o Often Sewn/Poor Construction


  • Strengths
    o Comfortable/breathable
    o Apparently low cost per use
  • Weaknesses
    o Negligible barrier after but a few washings
    o With no barrier, useless for infection control

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