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Now, a fabric that can clean itself

February 12, 2008 16:04 IST

Sending your favourite and costly suit to the dry cleaners could soon become an obsolete practice. Researchers have invented a new fabric which can clean by itself.

Using nano-technology, the researchers from Monash University in Australia and Hong Kong Polytechnic University have successfully developed the special fabric which can be made into self-cleaning clothes.

In fact, the coating in the textile breaks down dirt and stains when exposed to sunlight, The Daily Mail reportedĀ in London on Tuesday.

According to the inventors, the coating is suitable for use on cotton, silk, wool and other natural fibres and could be used to create sheets, duvet covers and pillow cases which never need washed.

Its ability to dissolve hard-to-remove food stains could also herald the end of the early-morning dash to the dry cleaners with a wine-stained silk tie or a coffee-splattered

woollen skirt, they said.

Their design revolves around coating fabrics in a thin layer of titanium dioxide nanoparticles -- each of which is 2,500 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Exposure to sunlight triggers a reaction in the tiny particles, causing them to react with oxygen in the air and breaking down dirt.

However, it will take around five years to refine the technology for use in self-cleaning clothes and linen. In their study, red-wine stains on pieces of wool started to fade within a few minutes of exposure to light and had all but vanished within a day.

According to the researchers, the process is kinder to fabrics than the chemicals used in dry cleaning, if that were not enough, the coating does not alter the texture or feel of fabrics. The results of the study have been published in the Chemistry of Materials journal.

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