Interesting Concept for Designers: Self Cleaning Fabric Using Sunlight

Self Cleaning Fabric

For the most part, we have been conditioned to believe that we have to put in time and energy to care for the clothes in our closets. However, research at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China has presented an interesting textile innovation, a self cleaning fabric, that could eliminate the process entirely.

No soap, water, or machines are required to clean this fabric.

Instead, it simply needs to be hung up outside in nice weather.  The textile is able to clean itself using only sunlight!

Though the concept seems far-fetched, self-cleaning cotton fabric has been successfully tested and is expected to be successfully applied to other fabrics.

How does self cleaning fabric work?

The cleaning properties are derived from a chemical mixture that includes titanium oxide, a photocatalyst that triggers reactions from light exposure. The textile is coated with this mixture, and the chemical properties are integrated into the fibers.

The concept and product is not exactly new, other variations of the idea have been created. However, these have mainly worked very poorly, if at all.

This particular attempt shows the most promise. It works very well, even removing bright orange dye stains, though it is still in development stages to ensure wearability and safety.

Does this sound like a good idea? Or a gross one? While there is a certain ick factor in clothes that are technically “unwashed,” the concept is certainly tempting for consumers and designers alike.

Think about it. As a designer, you wouldn’t have to consider shrinkage or worry about dyes bleeding.  And the use of less water and electricity from washing machines adds an eco-friendly aspect to this textile.

Jessica Bucci

Jessica has been trained in a wide variety of textile and fiber processes, traditional as well as computer-aided, which she uses in both her design and sculptural work. Jessica has also served as a teaching assistant for beginning weavers and drawers.

  1. Bike Pretty

    Very, very cool. It’s like a new concept of “wash & wear”.

    If you’re out on a sunny day, are your clothes cleaning themselves while you are wearing them?

  2. Melanie

    But the chemical mixture used to create the reaction with the Sun as titanium oxide, is not more harmful than the water and electricity used for a few washes?
    Thank you

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