Assessment of environmental and economic impacts made by the reduced laundering of self-cleaning fabrics
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Despite the belief that self-cleaning fabrics would be environmentally friendly for their reduced laundering needs, little research provides feasible evidence of it. The purpose of this study was to develop a logical assessment method for providing quantitative evidence of environmental and economic impacts made by reduced laundering efforts when selfcleaning fabrics were used in daily life. The assessment method developed included: 1) evaluation of functional effectiveness and functional lifetime of soil resistant fabrics, 2) measurement of the reduced laundering frequency and the resulting saving in electricity and water consumption, and 3) conversion of savings to CO2 equivalent (CO2 eq.) and monetary utility cost. To examine the self-cleaning ability in practical soiling situation, the treated fabrics were tested for self-cleaning ability against two types of food soils and cleaned by water-spraying using the modified AATCC test method 22-2005. The self-cleaning ability was evaluated by the subjective visual assessment and the quantitative measurement of color difference ΔE. The level of ΔE that gave the discernible color difference by the visual assessment was about 3.7, and ΔE of 3.7 was used as the criteria to determine the laundering needs. From the developed assessment method, the self-cleaning fabrics saved up to 84 % of water and electricity during lifetime laundering of 50 cycles. This study provides an objective assessment methodology that can be applied to functional textiles to determine the quantified environmental and economic impacts such as CO2 eq. and monetary cost.
KeywordsSelf-cleaning Laundering Monetary cost CO2 equivalent (CO2 eq.)
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