The end of laundry is nigh as far as chemists in China are concerned. Scientists are developing a cotton fabric that cleans and deodorizes itself when exposed to regular sunlight, according to a recent report in Applied Materials & Interfaces, a journal of the American Chemical Society. By using a coating made from a compound of titanium dioxide—the white stuff found in white paint, food coloring, and sunscreen—Mingce Long and Deyong Wu of the Hubei University for Nationalities and Shanghai Jiao Tong University have created a self-cleaning material that doesn’t require a high dose of ultraviolet rays to work its mojo.

self-cleaning clothing, nanotechnology, wearable technology, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, water conservation, washing machines


Titanium dioxide, which breaks down gunk and pulverizes microbes under certain wavelengths of light, has already found applications in such products as self-cleaning windows, kitchen and bathroom tiles, and odor-free socks. Self-cleaning fabrics have been attempted in the past, but Long and Wu’s version works even in the presence of a broad spectrum of light: that big ball of incandescent gas in the sky, for instance.

Self-cleaning cotton fabrics have been attempted in the past, but Long and Wu’s version works even under broad-spectrum light.

In their paper, the authors successfully rid a fabric swatch of an orange dye stain by exposing it to sunlight, a process that was hastened by further dispersing nanoparticles of silver and iodine. But if you tumble into a vat of spaghetti sauce, feel free to bathe your threads in suds ye olde fashioned way. Long and Wu note that the coating remains intact even after washing and drying.

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