It might get the stank and stains out, but every trip through the washing machine takes a toll on your clothing, wearing out your garments and stretching them out of shape. Even a trip to the dry cleaners can be rough, so researchers at Hong Kong's City University found an easier, gentler alternative by inventing a self-cleaning cashmere fabric that harnesses the sun to break down dirt and stains.

You read that right, the only thing needed to clean coffee and even wine stains from the magic cashmere—which is coated in a less-magical mineral called anatase titanium dioxide—is exposure to light for about 24 hours. The prolonged illumination kickstarts a chemical reaction that produces oxidants which are in turn able to break down dust, dirt, bacteria, and whatever else is soiling a sweater.

The breakthrough should also have environmental benefits since it means less water—or none at all—is needed to clean garments. And instead, you could go put on your favorite outfit and spend a day at the beach to have it smelling fresh again. [Boston.com via Damn Geeky]