Lazy laundry-doers, rejoice! Clothes that wash themselves are on the horizon. Researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology at the University of Melbourne have developed the newest innovation in laundry, which could be as easy as stepping into the sun. Say “goodbye” to water intensive washing machines, and “hello” to your newest cleaning device … sunshine!
With this new kind of fabric, a copper and silver nanostructure is woven inside cotton textiles and kept in place by a fixative solution. After you step into the sun, solar energy catalyzes a chemical reaction that eliminates stains by releasing high-energy electrons that break down the dirt. The stain could be gone in as little as six minutes.
“The advantage of textiles is they already have a 3D structure, so they are great at absorbing light, which in turn speeds up the process of degrading organic matter,” Dr. Rajesh Ramanathan, one of the researchers, told PhysOrg.
And while Dr. Ramanthan cautions that there’s “more work to do to before we can start throwing out our washing machines,” this innovation signals a future in which our water usage would be reduced! Not only that, but it would eliminate the lesser known issue of microfibers washing out of your clothes, into the water stream.
Did you know that every time a single piece of synthetic clothing is washed, it could release around 1,900 plastic microfibers into the sewage systems or local waterways? And, of course, they eventually wash into the ocean. These microplastics are easily ingested by marine life; they’re hardly aware they are ingesting these particles at all. There are many chemical compounds in plastics that are known human carcinogens, for example PCBs, BPA, that bioaccumulate in the bodies of humans and marine species alike, meaning every time we’re washing our clothes, we’re unintentionally subjecting animals to this pollution. While it might be easy to avoid plastic water bottles and bags, hidden microplastics like those in clothing are more difficult to stay away from, but the advent of this new fabric could potentially solve that problem as well!
What You Can Do Until These Incredible Garments Hit the Shelves?
When in doubt, shop for clothing made of natural materials, like organic cotton, sisal, linen (made from flax) and hemp. Common synthetic materials you should avoid include: polyester, rayon, modal, spandex and nylon. Also be on the look out for bamboo viscose or bamboo rayon. It sounds like a natural material, but it is derived from plastic. Together, we can benefit the planet by making simple choices while we shop!
To learn more about how you can cut plastic out of the other aspects of your life, join One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
Feautured Image Source: RMIT University