Efforts to create self-cleaning cloth aren't new, but humanity has taken another step in its quest to eradicate icky microorganisms — UC Davis scientists have created a new wash-resistant self-cleaning cotton fabric that kills bacteria and breaks down toxic chemicals when exposed to light. Their method utilizes a new compound called 2-anthraquinone carboxylic acid — or 2-AQC for you acronym enthusiasts — which produces antimicrobial compounds like hydrogen peroxide when hit with light. 2-AQC's advantage is that it bonds well to the cellulose in cotton, making it difficult to wash out, and can be easily applied to fabric in the dyeing process.
If you cringe at the thought of doing laundry, don't get too excited, as you're probably not retiring from personal hygiene anytime soon. Researchers say potential applications include healthcare, agriculture, and the military — and 2-AQC is more expensive than other similar compounds. But they also claim that cheaper equivalents to the compound are available, which could mean that broader consumer applications are looming.