Clothes That Clean The Air While You Wear

Fight air pollution and look fabulous? CatClo, a new designer fabric conditioner, could make it possible in as little as two years from now.

This innovation is down to The Catalytic Clothing project, a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the London College of Fashion.

Together, they have engineered a new substance that, when added to clothing in the same way you might use fabric conditioner, would clean the air as you go about your daily business. It could dramatically cut pollution and pollution-related illnesses like asthma.

Here is a video from the makers of CatClo, as it has been dubbed, explaining their approach to eco-friendly fashion:

“A public experiment between Art and Science. Our endeavor to purify the air we all breathe.”

The trick that makes CatClo able to clean the air around us is that it contains titanium dioxide. This reacts with the nitrogen dioxide in polluted air and in effect traps it in the clothing fibers. When you wash your clothes, the fabric is then cleansed.

This, technically, is not a new technology either. Similar methods utilizing titanium dioxide have been used in concrete and paint.

It follows on from a previous experiment by The Catalytic Clothing project where they unveiled a specially designed dress that would do much the same.

The task of course was to be able to make this smog-cleansing property widely available in a way so that everyone wouldn’t need to rush out and buy new clothes. CatClo is the fruit of that task, and it is attracting a great deal of attention.

“Catalytic Clothing is an innovative biomedical and environmental project that spans the art/science domain,” Professor Frank Kelly of the Environmental Health department at King’s College London is quoted as saying. “The possibility that innovative pollution degrading materials can be incorporated into the fabric of our cities and even our clothes to help provide a solution to urban air pollution is simply fantastic.”

“Behind almost all human advancement lies a science. Through my work I try to share and involve the public with these possibilities,” Professor Helen Storey MBE, of Fashion and Science at London College of Fashion has said. ”Catalytic Clothing is for me therefore, a collaborative and public experiment between fashion and science, in this case, a beautifully radical new concept which endeavors to purify the air that we breath through the surface of our clothes.”

CatClo’s designers are working with manufacturers of environmentally friendly cleaning products to prepare CatClo for general retail, and it could hit the shelves as soon as 2014.

Granted, the impact of the product might at first be minimal. However, CatClo developers including Professor Tony Ryan, OBE, of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Chemistry, have said that as the product gains public attention there is a chance that CatClo could make a very marked improvement on air quality in our major cities.

Professor Ryan told London Net:

If thousands of people in a typical town used the additive, the result would be a significant improvement in local air quality. In Sheffield, for instance, if everyone washed their clothes in the additive, there would be no pollution problem caused by nitrogen oxides at all!

London currently shares the undesirable distinction of being one of the most polluted cities in Europe, so any product that could stand to cut pollution in the UK’s capital would be welcomed.


Related Reading:

Think Wool is a Great Alternative to Fur? Think Again.

Is Bamboo an Eco-Friendly Alternative to Cotton?

12 Animal-Friendly Designers



Maat M.
Maat M4 years ago

Very Interesting....

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you

Maggie Zhou

Every time when this "oh so green" clothing is laundered, and when more of the titanium dioxide is added "just like using fabric softener", this chemical is relased into the waste water, which eventually enters into the water ways and the environment, as it can't be expected to be completely removed by the waste water treatment facilities, if at all. If the titanium dioxide is in the form of nanoparticles, which I suspect it highly likely will be in this application, it will certainly pollute the waterways, and be very toxic to aquatic life, and eventually to ourselves.

Some people just can't leave things simple, like plain cotton/linen/hemp clothes.

To stop NO2 pollution, stop burning fossil fuels.

Sheri D.
Sheri D5 years ago

Very interesting! I will be looking for this when it is available.

Ilia A.
Ilia A5 years ago

i would worry about both--what the titanium dioxide effect would be on my skin and the smog it would be attracting. maybe they should just make flags or billboards with it and put them in strategic places, have them picked up and laundered regularly or some other solution instead of having us wear more pollution than what gets on us daily.

Berny p.
Berny p5 years ago

sound good to me!

Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago


KAREN L5 years ago

I'm all for innovations....but have to watch out for chemicals such as in OMGs.....