Cleaning trick: Make it hydrophobic ?

by Jeremy

I'm looking for cleaning tricks and I came across sprays and waxes that can make surfaces (mirrors, windows, etc.) hydrophobic.

In theory, I think it enables it to catch dust and dirt in water drops, and to wipe it clean with a spray of water (lotus effect).

This would make cleaning of shower doors, bathroom mirror or windows almost unnecessary, but it seems too easy to be true.
Anyone knows about it? An opinion, an explanation?
Thanks :)

(Excuse my English, I'm French)

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Jan 19, 2017

by: tara

Great question! The hydrophobic sprays and waxes you’ve seen are part of an emerging field of self-cleaning coatings, and the science behind them is actually pretty solid.

How it works: The hydrophobic coating in the sprays and waxes you mention allow the surface you them to clean itself when it comes into contact with water- specifically by allowing rolling water droplets to carry away surface dirt.

So why don’t we have hydrophobic sprays and waxes readily available for all the glass surfaces in our homes? I can’t imagine how much time we could save each week on shower and window cleaning alone.

The answer is: It’s a work in progress. While hydrophobic coatings have been scientifically shown to be effective self-cleaners, they suffer from a number of drawbacks that have so far prevented their widespread use.

Batch processing a hydrophobic material is costly and time-consuming, and the coatings produced are usually hazy, precluding applications on windows and fragile material. And despite the commercialization of a hydrophilic self-cleaning coating in a number of products you’ve seen, the field is far from mature. Research into making them less expensive to produce with more effective on glass surfaces is ongoing.

In fact, since 2001, the International Commission on Glass has been trying to set up test methods for evaluation of photocatalytic self-cleaning coatings on glass. So stay tuned – cleaning some of the surfaces in our homes may soon get much easier.

Thanks for the great question, Jeremy. Nothing was lost in the translation from French to English! ☺

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