Hydrophobic materials –that is, materials that reject water at the molecular level– are quickly making their way into the mainstream. In the past couple years alone, we’ve seen the rise of nanoscale hydrophobic treatments for electronics, all-purpose hydrophobic sprays that can be applied to nearly anything, and even dishes that don’t need to be washed.
Yet despite how amazing and useful it would be, hydrophobic clothing has been somewhat elusive thus far. This is mostly because applying hydrophobic coatings to solid, static surfaces is one thing, but applying them onto flexible, dynamic materials that are comfortable to wear is much more difficult.
But now, thanks to entrepreneur Vinod Nair and ex-Clorox engineer Gregory van Buskirk, hydrophobic, stain-repelling garments might be just around the corner. And the best part? You won’t have to replace your entire wardrobe to get your hands on them.
Nair and van Buskirk have taken to Kickstarter to help jumpstart production of Sofft — a new kind of fabric softener that uses some advanced chemical wizardry to make your clothes repel stains.
Truth be told, the base chemistry behind Sofft has actually been around for decades. It’s commonly used in hospital garments to prevent fluids from absorbing during messy surgeries, and certain big-name clothing brands have used similar chemistry to make pants and shirts that repel stains. The only problem is that, after a few washes, this stain-repellant property tends to go away. So, according to van Buskirk, Clorox spent years developing a wash-in treatment that could provide the same results. The project, however, was chronically underfunded and ended up being stalled indefinitely.
But now, through the magic of crowdfunding, the duo is hoping to bring the technology out of the shadows and into the hands of stain-prone consumers. To jumpstart the first volume production run, Nair and vanBuskirk are currently looking for $25K — a goal they’re already half of the way to achieving in just a few days.
If you back the project now, you can snag yourself a jug of Sofft for around 25-35 bucks. Barring any roadblocks in the manufacturing process, they expect to ship the first production batch as early as February of 2015.