Do you hear that? It’s the sounds of thousands of people around the world rejoicing: they soon may not have to wash clothes!
But it’s not as icky as it sounds i.e. people won’t just stop washing their garments – there’s actually been a fabric developed that self-cleans.
RMIT University researchers have been working on self-cleaning textiles, by growing nanostructures on textiles which release a burst of energy that then degrades organic matter when exposes to light.
It will no doubt be more of an incentive to get outside – it could get rid of stains and germs from clothes.
Dr Rajesh Ramanathan, one of the lead researchers at the Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility and NanoBiotechnology Research Lab at RMIT, told the ABC the team worked with copper and silver-based nanostructures, which are known for their ability to absorb visible light.
“Basically what we do is take a simple cotton textile, we have a few different new methodologies to grow nanostructures directly on them, and then once these structures are formed we can just shine light on them,” Dr Ramanathan said.
“Because the nanostructure is metal-based they can absorb visible light, what that does is it basically excites the metal nanoparticles which are present on the surface.
“And because of this energy, it’s able to degrade organic matter which is present on it so that’s how it’ll get rid of stains.”
Dr Ramanathan said that out of the two materials, one worked very fast, with the degradation process taking between six to 10 minutes of “shining”.
“The other one does take longer, about 30 minutes, but it’s more stable, so there is a fine balance between stability and the speed,” Dr Ramanathan said.
The researchers are about to start testing on sweat, and are trying to incorporate wine and food stains.
“We have some understanding, but we will need more understanding of the system [and] how it works, and once we have that understanding hopefully in the near future we should be able to have self-cleaning textiles, so we can throw the washing machine of the house,” he said.
Don’t throw out your washing machine yet – trials are still ongoing – but isn’t it exciting to know how amazing science is? Washing takes up so much of our time and can also be harmful to the environment and hard on our resources.
Tell us, how would self-cleaning clothes improve your life?