Bioprospecting of Antimicrobial Carica papaya Leaf Extract for Finishing of Fabrics in Health Care Industries

B. Sathya Priya, T. Stalin, and Olivier Nzamwita


Natural fibers like wool, cotton, and jute are easily attacked by microbes because of their water retention capacity and easy breakdown of polymer linkages by microbial enzymes (Gupta and Bhaumik 2007). The cotton fabrics, in contact with the human body, are prone to an ideal environment for the growth of microorganisms, which results in allergic reactions and the degradation of fabrics. It is a necessity that the textile products should be finished with antimicrobial agents for good hygiene, but the majority of the products are finished with synthetic agents that are not safe to skin and the environment. The textiles finished with disinfectants that lead to bacterial resistance were reported by Russell (2004), and those finished with metals cause many disorders.

The production of natural antimicrobial health care textiles is very important in the health care industries to prevent infections and diseases that are caused by the pathogenic microbes. The natural antimicrobial finishing is an emerging technology in the production of medical textiles. The different parts of the plants have significant antimicrobial properties and are used for the finishing of textiles. The natural antimicrobial textiles have more advantages, such as safe to the skin, eco-friendly, inhibit the infections caused by pathogenic microbes, prevention of bad odor, and deterioration of fabrics. The cotton fabrics that were finished with the different parts of the plant extracts were reported by many researchers, which are as follows: neem and Mexican daisy extracts (Thilagavathi and Bala 2007); green tea leaf extracts (Syamili et al. 2012); Ocimum sanctum and rind of Punica granatum (Sathianarayanan et al. 2010); aloe vera gel and neem leaves extract (Khurshid et al. 2015); E. globulus, T cordifolia, and T. procumbens leaf extracts (Vastrad and Byadgi 2018); neem, henna, konrai, and papaya leaves extracts (Ganesan and Vardhini 2015); Aerva lanata extract (Ganesan et al. 2013); and Vitex negundo leaf extract (Mohanraj et al. 2012).

Papaya (Carica papaya Linn) belongs to the family Caricaceae. The papaya leaves have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. So, the present study aimed for the finishing of cotton fabrics with Carica papaya leaf extract and analyzed the antimicrobial activity of leaf extract against the known test pathogens. The antimicrobial efficiency of the washed fabrics was also investigated.

  • 4.2.1 Collection and Extraction of Papaya Leaves

Carica papaya fresh leaves were collected from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. The leaves were washed and shadow dried at room temperature. The fine powder obtained after grinding and sieving was used for the extraction process. The solvent extracts of the leaf samples were prepared by mixing 10 g of papaya leaf powder with every 100 mL of 80% methanol, ethanol, and acetone in an airtight conical flask and kept at room temperature. The centrifugation was done at 8000 rpm for 10 minutes after 24 hours of extraction. It was followed by filtration and evaporation.

4.2.2 Finishing of Cotton Fabrics Using Papaya Leaf Extract

The washed, sterilized cotton fabrics were immersed in different extracts of Carica papaya leaves with 6% of citric acid as a binding agent for 10 minutes, and the excess solution was removed by the pad dry method. Later, the fabrics were dried at 80°C for 5 minutes and cured for 3 minutes at 150°C (Sathianarayanan et al. 2010).

4.2.3 Agar Diffusion Method

The treated fabrics were then tested for antibacterial activity. The plates were prepared by pouring the sterilized agar media into sterile Petri plates. The plates were allowed to solidify, and the 24-hour inoculum of gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) and gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia coli) were swabbed using a sterile cotton swab. The finished fabric of 15 mm was placed over the inoculated bacterial plates and was kept for incubation at 37°C for 24 hours. At the end of incubation, the zone of inhibition formed around the fabric was measured.

4.2.4 Wash Durability of Fabrics

The finished fabrics were allowed 15 wash cycles using a standard detergent of 0.2% concentration at 40°C, and the antibacterial activity of the fabrics on the test organisms was assessed.


The cotton samples were treated with methanol, ethanol, and acetone leaf extracts of Carica papaya and assessed for their antimicrobial activity on gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus and gram-negative Escherichia coli. The evaluation was made by using the zone of inhibition that formed around the fabric and was measured in mm. Figure 4.1 represents the antimicrobial activity of the finished fabrics on the test organisms. The ethanol leaf extract showed the maximum zone of inhibition for both the gram-positive (33 mm) and gram-negative (32 mm) test organisms.

Figures 4.2 and 4.3 show the antimicrobial efficiency of washed fabrics on S. aureus and E. coli. The increased wash cycles resulted in decreasing the zone of inhibition. It was observed that nearly 50% of the antimicrobial activity was retained by all the finished fabrics after ten w'ash cycles.

Antimicrobial activity of Carica papaya leaf extract finished fabrics on Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli

FIGURE 4.1 Antimicrobial activity of Carica papaya leaf extract finished fabrics on Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.

Antimicrobial activity of washed fabric samples on Staphylococcus aureus

FIGURE 4.2 Antimicrobial activity of washed fabric samples on Staphylococcus aureus.

Antimicrobial activity of washed fabric samples on Escherichia coli

FIGURE 4.3 Antimicrobial activity of washed fabric samples on Escherichia coli.


The present investigation showed the maximum zone of inhibition for S. aureus and E. coli. It revealed the broad-spectrum activity of leaf extracts against both the gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It was observed that the finished fabrics showed more antibacterial efficiency on gram-positive bacteria than gram-negative bacteria, which may be due to the difference in thickness of the cell wall and mode of action of the active principle in the leaf extracts. Similarly, the results were in accordance with Thilagavathi and Bala (2007); Mohan raj et al. (2012); and Vastrad and Byadgi (2018). The phytochemical analysis of Carica papaya leaf extracts showed the presence of alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, tannins, saponins, phenols, and steroids (Vijay et al. 2014; Anjum et al. 2013). It was proposed that flavonoids may inhibit the cell wall integrity, saponins caused the leakage of vital constituents and tannins to coagulate the cell wall proteins (Alabi et al. 2012; Hassan et al. 2007; Onwuliri and Wonang et al. 2005). The ethanol extract showed higher antibacterial activity than the methanol and acetone extracts. It may be due to the nature of the solvent which is more potent to dissolve the antimicrobial agents of the leaf. Similar results were obtained by Alabi et al. (2012). The methanol extract showed a 30 mm zone of inhibition for S. aureus and 28 mm for E. coli. Similarly, Ganesan and Vardhini (2015) observed the higher zone of inhibition (28 mm) in the methanol extract of a papaya leaf against S. aureus. It was observed that the zones of inhibition for both the test organisms were gradually decreased due to the increase in wash cycles. It may be due to the hydrogen bonds and weak van der Waals forces. The Carica papaya leaf extract finished cotton fabric samples retained 50% of the antibacterial activity in up to 10 wash cycles. Similar results were obtained by Khurshid et al. (2015).


The natural fabrics may be widely used in medical and surgical applications, but the larger surface area and the retention of moisture made the textile fabrics more prone to bacterial growth. To prevent the infection by pathogens and transmission of diseases, it is very important to finish these textile materials with antimicrobial herbal extracts. Hence, it is concluded that Carica papaya leaf extract finished cotton fabric samples could be used as an effective alternative to synthetic antimicrobial agents, disinfectants, and heavy metals in health care industries.


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