Two Chinese researchers have developed a chemical coating that makes cotton clothes self-cleaning. The method that gets rid of stains and foul smells is also eco-friendly, since the fabric doesn’t have to be washed anymore. A simple exposure to light will do the job.
Mingce Long and Deyong Wu covered the cotton with a layer made from nitrogen and titanium dioxide. The latter, also used in organic solar cells, is cheap, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly. Moreover, they added silver and iodine nanoparticles that have the role of accelerating the cleansing process.
The coating thus creates has the ability of removing stains when exposed to light. To prove the material’s properties, the researchers painted some clothes with an orange dye and then put them in full sunlight. After just two hours, 71 percent of the stains had disappeared. They also said that the coating doesn’t go off if you wash and dry the cloth.
However, the idea presented by Long and Wu is not new. Earlier experiments involved coatings that were only sensitive to ultraviolet light, but that wasn’t something people usually have in their homes, so the idea dropped from the beginning. Large-scale production could make the coating a standard, and the idea could be worth millions.
Furthermore, self-cleaning clothes will dramatically lower the usage of detergents, bleach and other harmful chemicals, not to mention the energy used to produce them and the energy used for powering clothes washers and dryers.