Self-Cleaning Clothes May Make Your Washing Machine History

Man in the White Suit/Screen capture

Before becoming Obi Wan Kenobi, Alec Guinness was a terrific comic actor in roles like Sidney Stratton in the Man in the white suit. He invents a fabric that can't get stained or dirty and never wears out. The mill owners and the trade unions are horrified; who will need what they make if clothing never gets dirty or wears out?

Now, sixty years later, The Guardian describes a new type of cotton fabric that Sidney Stratton would have loved; it eliminates stains and dirt when exposed to sunlight. Physorg gives more detail:

Mingce Long and Deyong Wu say their fabric uses a coating made from a compound of titanium dioxide, .....Their report describes cotton fabric coated with nanoparticles made from a compound of titanium dioxide and nitrogen. They show that fabric coated with the material removes an orange dye stain when exposed to sunlight. Further dispersing nanoparticles composed of silver and iodine accelerates the discoloration process. The coating remains intact after washing and drying.

The Guardian is not impressed:

Sorry, but this sounds a bit gross. Far be it for us to argue with science, but hanging your T-shirt in the sunlight to give it a clean is all too reminiscent of seeing laundry "airing" on hangers outside halls of residences inhabited by stoned students who can't be bothered to pause Call of Duty: Black Ops and go down to the communal laundrette.

I rather like the idea, as long as it comes in a colour other than white. More in the Guardian

Follow me on Twitter and Friend me on Facebook

Tags: Clothing | Nanotechnology | United Kingdom