What are self-cleaning fabrics? End to washing?

self-cleaning fabrics feature image

water droplet repelling on fabrics

Doing laundry is a mundane boring task that repeats itself every week in the life of an average human being. I have wished a hundred times if I could have fabrics which never got dirty. Looks like my wishes were granted.

Russian scientists invent a fabric that cleans itself

saint petersberg university

Natalia Diachenko, a Russian scientist working at the Saint Petersburg State University has worked out a way to permanently add titanium dioxide to the bonding layer of fabric.

The benefit of titanium dioxide is that it has photocatalytic qualities – in other words, the ability to destroy dirt when exposed to ultraviolet rays or rainwater.

These coated fabrics hardly get dirty. Even if they did get dirty, they can be washed off with a little splash of water or by keeping in in the sunlight.

The average selling price of this fabric is only $1 per meter, as per the reports.

Use cases for self-cleaning fabrics
  • Sportswear
  • Adventure wear and accessories
  • Hospital use fabrics
  • Upholstery

Great! But is this the first time someone has made such an amazing breakthrough?

It all started in the mid-2000s

When people began to have less time for their daily chores, companies and brands pushed for innovations towards self-cleaning fabrics. For inspiration, they turned their search towards nature and it leads them to LOTUS.

The Lotus

lotus properties in self cleaning fabrics

Have you ever seen a lotus flower? It is found in some of the dirtiest places, around swamps. Still, the lotus seems untethered by it. It shines and does not get stained by dirt.

Scientists began to learn the properties of the lotus plants and found out two properties which they later used for inventing the self-cleaning fabrics.

  1. The ability to repel water
  2. The ability to repel dirt

Nature has always amazed us with its simple yet complex designs. This is something of that kind. Scientists began to experiment with nanotechnology in order to replicate these properties.

A tiny layer of nanoparticles is created around the fabric to achieve the property that of the lotus plant. It has been around the 21st century. But the media is silent over this and doesn’t seem to be excited about it.

Cons of self-cleaning fabrics

The nanoparticles applied on the surface of the fabric get thinner with each wash. It gets into the environment and can cause a hazardous impact on nature. It is also harmful to some human skins as they get reacted towards the particles. But modern findings are resolving these issues.

Will self-cleaning fabrics close the detergent and washing industry?

cleaning fabrics in machine

Absolutely not. As we discussed above, the practical implications of self-cleaning fabrics are limited. Only specialized products will have this quality. Detergents and washing will still be in existence since we will still be wearing apparel made of normal fabrics. Nothing can beat the comfort of light cotton wear in summer.

What can we conclude?

New inventions in the textile industry will open far greater opportunities for everyone in the industry. The self-cleaning fabrics which repel water, dirt and do no harm to the skin will definitely get approval. If the mainstream industry adopts efficient inventions, it will be a great contribution towards sustainability and eco-friendly apparels.


Woven Fabrics





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