Anke Domaske, a young woman from Hanover, Germany agonized as her stepfather endured constant skin irritations during his cancer treatment. His pain motivated her to do something to help. Anke, a microbiology student, understood the conventional fabrics the skin is exposed to is the source of many of the skin’s negative reactions.
After two years of experiments and testing, working with a research lab, Anke and her team of six invented a revolutionary textile whose primary ingredient is a most unusual source: sour organic milk. Specifically, casein the main protein in milk. The fabric is called QMilch, the combination of the word quality (Q) with the German word for milk (milch). QMilch is the first man-made fiber produced entirely without chemicals. Fabric made from milk was first created in the 1930s, but they were always produced in unfriendly environmental ways using a lot of chemicals. With a look and feel like silk, QMilch can be washed and cared for like cotton. The green manufacturing process uses a half-gallon of water to produce two pounds of fabric.
This compared to cotton, which uses over 2,500 gallons of water for every two pounds of material. Anke created fabric that is both good for her stepfather’s skin and the environment. Anke said it would take about six liters of milk to produce an entire dress, which costs about 150 to 200 euros ($188 to $250 dollars). The cost is currently the only drawback to using the material. QMilch costs more to produce $28 per 1/2 pound than even organic cotton, which sells for 40% less. Anke hopes local production will keep down transport costs and reduce the overall price. Fortunately, the clothes don’t come with an expiration date – during the heating process, the molecules bind in such a way the protein won’t decompose.
As if a silky, luxurious feeling and “tumble dry low” instructions weren’t enough to recommend the milk material, QMilch is also good for your skin. The natural amino acids in casein are antibacterial and reduce signs of aging. Also the material supports healthy blood circulation and regulates the body’s temperature.
Due to its antibacterial qualities, the milk fiber can also be used in medicine and makeup. Some auto manufacturers have looked into using the fiber for seat covers. Anke Domaske was honored by Germany’s Textile Research Association with an innovation award. She’s currently using the milk fabric in her own fashion line, Mademoiselle Chi Chi. The biochemist and fashion designer to date has used the fabric only to make dresses. She does have future plans to begin mass producing and several companies already expressed an interest in using the fabric.
Because of Anke’s compassion and relationship with her stepfather, we now have QMilch a product that benefits people and the environment.