Self-Cleaning Fabric May Make Washing Obsolete

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Researchers at Australia’s RMIT University have developed a solution that enables fabric to essentially clean itself.

Stains on fabrics that have been treated with the solution disappear after a few minutes in the sun, CNN Money reports.

The researchers behind the solution, who are from RMIT University’s Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility, recently wrote about their work in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces.

Their special solution coats fabric with microscopic copper and silver particles. When hit with light, these particles are activated and act like a bleach.

Researcher Rajesh Ramanathan explains to CNN:

“They get excited, then they degrade organic matter.”

Silver has antimicrobial properties. To prevent bacteria from growing, CNN reports, the ancient Greeks and Romans used to put silver coins in their water. Today, many medical garments and wound dressings are treated with silver.

The researchers’ stain-fighting solution has been tested on cotton, polyester and nylon fabrics, but it’s not yet ready to make washing machines obsolete.

Ramanathan says in R&D magazine:

“Our next step will be to test our nano-enhanced textiles with organic compounds that could be more relevant to consumers, to see how quickly they can handle common stains like tomato sauce or wine.

There’s more work to do … before we can start throwing out our washing machines, but this advance lays a strong foundation for the future development of fully self-cleaning textiles.”

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