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The Soap-Free Method For Cleaning Clothes

You probably recall one of the more popular articles I posted last year: The continuing development of self-cleaning fabrics and clothes. Along those same lines, a professor of physical chemistry in Australia has found a way to clean clothes by just using water.

How can you get clothes clean without using a detergent? When tiny air particles are removed during cleaning -- a process known as "de-gassing" -- water lifts oily stains from the surface of clothes, allowing for soap-free cleaning. This degassing of water occurs by freezing water with liquid nitrogen. The technique was so effective, the greasiest stains (even petroleum-based Vasolene) could be removed, scientists said. To simplify the process down the line, researchers will develop semipermeable membranes to de-gas water as it passes through.

Membranes have been used before on oil rigs to remove oxygen that causes rusting from water used to cool pipes.

Needless to say, if the process can be perfected, it could be a boon to the environment according to experts who believe detergent residues in rinsing water promote algae growth and threaten ecosystems. In medicine, soap-free cleaning could be really handy in the cleaning of surgical instruments. February 6, 2005

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