Discovery: Self Cleaning Cloth

Cotton clothing is referred to as the clothing of the poor, because of its low cost. But, with its water absorbing property, it easily gets stained and regular washing brings down the cloth’s durability. 

Researchers at the IIT Dhanbad with collaborators at The Ohio State University recently tackled this problem, by making liquid repellent cotton. They achieved this using a simple technique – dipping the cloth in a hexadecyltrimethoxysilane solution, which forms a liquid repellent layer on the surface. This layer on cotton cloth forms a barrier between the liquid and the material, reducing the surface energy of the cloth. 

 ‘As a result, the liquid doesn’t stick to the cloth, and drains off, without leaving a stain’, says Bharat Bhushan, The Ohio State University. This has been tested with water, and other common household liquids, such as coffee, tea and honey, which otherwise leave stains. The modified cloth has antibacterial properties as well. Bacterial growth is slow on the surface. ‘The cloth can now withstand harsh heat and washing better than normal cotton, making it more durable’, adds Aditya Kumar, IIT Dhanbad. 

The liquid repellent cotton cloth holds promise for the textile industry. So do not be surprised, if, in the near future, cotton clothes come with antibacterial and self-cleaning properties. 

However, any reaction to the skin and side effect of long-term contact of hexadecyltrimethoxysilane with the human body are yet to be tested.

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