Researchers created a new fabric that cleans itself when placed under light.
Most clothes that are considered "green" are made of organic cotton, which doesn't do much to protect you against harsh winters. This self-cleaning cashmere sweater is here to change things.
The biggest aspect of the carbon footprint of almost any garment is the amount of time it spends in the laundry or at dry cleaners. Self-cleaning cashmere has an invisible, nano-thin layer of anatase titanium dioxide, which makes stains disappear.
Researchers from Hong Kong designed the cashmere so that when it is placed in light for 24 hours, even the harshest stains, dirt and bacteria will disappear. This is caused by a chemical reaction that is triggered when light hits the fabric.
"Cashmere is a sensitive protein and can be easily damaged and therefore it is notoriously expensive to clean," Walid Daoud, of Hong Kong's School of Energy and Environment, told Fast Company. "It is a delicate operation because of the risk of spoiling the cashmere in the process. How to apply nano-sized photocatalysts to cashmere and retain its delicate characteristics was a huge challenge."
The researchers are currently testing the fabric to see if the coating causes any adverse side effects on health. Preliminary tests deemed the fabric as safe and durable.
In terms of cost, the self-cleaning sweater may cost just 1 percent more than regular cashmere sweaters. The technology could eventually be used on all types of clothing to help reduce the 179 million metric tons of CO2 emissions caused by laundry in the US every year.