Laundry additive turns shirts, pants into pollution eaters

Soon, the simple act of doing laundry could turn you into an ecowarrior, thanks to a laundry additive that promises to scrub pollutants out of the air when you wear your clean clothes.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
Field of Jeans
This Field of Jeans display has been treated with the Catalytic Clothing additive. Catalytic Clothing

Last year, we heard about the first article of Catalytic Clothing, an experimental dress that pulls pollutants out of the atmosphere. Now the technology is moving along to the point where it could be used as a liquid laundry additive and become part of our regular clothes washing chores.

According to a release from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the U.K., "Within just two years, we could all be wearing clothes that purify the air as we simply move around in them."

The CatClo laundry additive is moving toward commercialization. The substance contains nanoparticles of titanium dioxide that cling to fabrics. It reacts to nitrogen oxides, oxidizing them in the fabric. It is estimated that one person wearing CatClo-treated clothes could remove enough polluntants from the air to counter the nitrogen oxides produced by a family car.

CatClo is the result of a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the London College of Fashion. Getting scientists and fashion designers together almost guarantees something interesting will happen.

It turns out CatClo works particularly well with denim, so some day soon you may be sporting acid-washed anti-acid-rain jeans.