SCIENCE

New Self-Cleaning Paint Could Put An End To Washing Your Stuff

03/10/2015 10:38 am ET | Updated Mar 10, 2015

How great would it be to own a car that cleaned itself? Or clothing that resisted even tough stains like coffee and wine? You may soon find out.

A new paint developed by researchers overseas can be applied to clothes, paper, glass, and steel and--when combined with adhesives--retains its remarkable self-cleaning properties even after it's been scuffed and scratched.

"Our paint worked extremely well for a variety of surfaces in tough conditions which were designed to simulate the wear and tear of materials in the real-world," Yao Lu of the chemistry department at University College London and the lead author of a paper describing the paint, said in a written statement.

The experimental paint is made with super-tiny particles of titanium dioxide, and high-speed video (above) shows that these nanoparticles work like magic to repel liquids--and that's not all they do.

The droplets that fall onto a treated surface coalesce into bigger drops that soak up dirt as they roll across the surface (see video). As Lu explained in the statement, the drops act like "miniature vacuum cleaners picking up dirt, viruses, and bacteria" before they fall off.

What about cost and availability?

Prof. Ivan Parkin, also of the university's chemistry department and a co-author of the paper, told The Huffington Post in an email that cost was unlikely to be a barrier, adding that the earliest commercial use of the paint was likely to come in two years--probably in the form of house paint.

The paper was published March 5, 2015 in the journal Science.

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