Isolation gowns found in the marketplace today are produced from a variety of fabrics and a wide range of fibers. Isolation gowns are generally classified as "disposable/single-use"or "reusable/multi-use". In the U.S., disposable isolation gowns are used more commonly, while in Europe the share of reusables is larger. Approximately 80% of hospitals in the U.S. use single-use gowns and drapes .
Disposable (single-use) isolation gowns are designed to be discarded after a single use and are typically constructed of nonwoven materials alone or in combination with materials that offer increased protection from liquid penetration, such as plastic films. They can be produced using a variety of nonwoven fiber-bonding technologies (thermal, chemical, or mechanical) to provide integrity and strength rather than the interlocking geometries associated with woven and knitted materials. The basic raw materials typically used for disposable isolation gowns are various forms of synthetic fibers (e.g. polypropylene, polyester, polyethylene). Fabrics can be engineered to achieve desired properties by using particular fiber types, bonding processes, and fabric finishes (chemical or physical treatments). Reusable (multi-use) gowns are laundered after each use. Reusable isolation gowns are typically made of 100% cotton, 100% polyester, or polyester/cotton blends. These fabrics are tightly woven plain weave fabrics that are chemically finished and may be pressed through rollers to enhance the liquid barrier properties. Reusable garments generally can be used for 50 or more washing and drying cycles. The number of laundering/drying cycles is suggested by the manufacturer. According to AAMI-TIR11:2005 guidance document , a verifiable tracking system, such as a manual check off, bar code, or radio frequency chip, a verifiable tracking system, must be in place.