The days of breaking a sweat scrubbing worktops until they are germ-free could soon be over.
Scientists have developed a self-cleaning surface that can repel all forms of bacteria.
It could also be essential to hospitals as it can also prevent the transfer of superbugs.
The new plastic surface is a treated form of conventional transparent wrap which can be shrink-wrapped on door handles, railings, IV stands and other areas that can be magnets for bacteria such as MRSA and C. difficile.
It is also ideal for food packaging, where it could stop the transfer of bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria, according to a study published in the journal ACS Nano.
The new surface works through a combination of nano-scale surface engineering and chemistry.
It is textured with microscopic wrinkles that exclude all external molecules.
It means, for example, a drop of water or blood simply bounces off when it lands on the surface – and it works the same way for bacteria.
(Engineers Leyla Soleymani and Tohid Didar , led the research and collaborated with colleagues from McMaster’s Institute for Infectious Disease Research and the McMaster-based Canadian Center for Electron Microscopy.
Dr Soleymani said: “We’re structurally tuning that plastic.
“This material gives us something that can be applied to all kinds of things.”
Dr Didar added: “We can see this technology being used in all kinds of institutional and domestic settings.
“As the world confronts the crisis of antimicrobial resistance, we hope it will become an important part of the antibacterial toolbox.”