With the exception of a few weirdoes out there (you know who you are), all of us hate cleaning. No wonder. Every second we spend cleaning is another second we can't spend reading the Geekend.
Fear not, loyal readers. Soon you will have more time to share with your favorite feature. Practically everything is about to become self-cleaning, from your car to your windows to your clothes.
Perhaps the most fun display of the new technology is the self-cleaning car announced by Nissan. It is as easy as a paint job. The new paint resists dirt, dust, and oil, because its structure creates a tiny layer of air between the car and the dirt. In the video below, half a car has been covered in traditional paint. The other half is covered in the new self-cleaning paint.
As you can see, the dirt actually behaves differently when it touches the self-cleaning half of the car. Rather than spreading out and filling into the pores of the paint and making the whole car dirty, the dirt clumps and rolls right off. Mud just sheets like rain off a good wax job.
You can see a similar effect with self-cleaning glass. MIT researchers have invented a glass that is smudge free, fog free, glare free, and self-cleaning. Here's the video.
Just like the paint, the glass is about structuring a layer of nanoparticles that repel the dirt. And tiny cones etched into the glass defeat the glare. There are countless fantastic applications for a material like this. The top two that come to mind are smartphone displays that resist finger smudges and eyeglasses that are glare free and always clean.
Some self-cleaning glass has been used on the sides of buildings for years, but it doesn't have all the properties of MIT's new material. You can expect multiple companies to continue to improve the process for quite some time.
I really see only one problem with this. Glass with no glare? No fogging? It seems like we'll see a lot more of these incidents.
That's all fine and good, but we're talking about hard objects that are relatively easy to clean. It is even a little nice to wash the car on a warm summer weekend. What about the stuff that's harder to clean?
Harvard researchers have invented self-cleaning clothes. Now that's a breakthrough. No more laundry seems like a good idea to me.
The clothes are interesting, because they actually work on a different principle than the car and the glass. The clothes don't use nanoparticles to create a layer of air. They use a small layer of water. Stains and dirt literally skid off the clothes and can't deposit themselves. The air-layer concept won't work on clothes because they have to stretch, twist, and bend. That disturbs the cushion effect.
The clothes still aren't as comfortable as traditional fabrics (because they don't breathe well yet), but we can already see applications in laboratories, for handling hazardous material, and in the military. The assumption is that developers eventually will make these materials more comfortable.
Add all these up, and it is hard to imagine we'll be washing much of anything in a few years. Anything we can paint (from your backyard BBQ to your car to your toilet) will be forever clean. Anything that is made of glass (from your dishes to your windows) will always be nice and shiny. Even things made of fabrics, such as clothes and furniture, will stay like new forever.
What do you think? What is the first self-cleaning thing you want in your house? Is there anything you don't want to be self-cleaning? Something you enjoy cleaning? Comment below.