Wouldn't it be surreal if your jeans, sweats or socks clean and de-odorise themselves when hung on a clothesline in the sun or draped on a balcony railing.
This may soon become a reality as scientists have developed a new cotton fabric that does clean itself of stains and bacteria when exposed to ordinary sunlight.
Mingce Long and Deyong Wu say their fabric uses a coating made from a compound of titanium dioxide, the white material used in everything from white paint to foods to sunscreen lotions.
Titanium dioxide breaks down dirt and kills microbes when exposed to some types of light.
It already has found uses in self-cleaning windows, kitchen and bathroom tiles, odour-free socks and other products.
Self-cleaning cotton fabrics have been made in the past, the researchers noted, but they self-clean thoroughly only when exposed to ultraviolet rays.
So they set out to develop a new cotton fabric that cleans itself when exposed to ordinary sunlight.
They described 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.
Their study appeared in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.