Cloth and Chemistry
You drape your body in it daily, but what do you really know about its science? Learn about different aspects of cloth, including ways to dye it, tests to identify kinds of fiber, what makes up your favorite shirt, and more.
It’s colorful chemistry that you can wear when you’re done! All the dyeing directions you need are right here.
- Radial Chromatography T-shirts
Office supplies are the source of dyes for t-shirts and fabric in this fun and easy experiment.
- Focus on Fabrics: Putting Material to Good Use
Put fabrics to the test, then make your decision about which to use.
- Dye Like a Natural
Usually, you don't want to stain your clothes. Here, you do, using nature's dyes.
- Natural Dyes: A Chemistry Inquiry Lab
Any useless weeds in your area? This teacher took one and turned it into a dye experiment.
- DIY: Experiments with Natural Dyes
One dye = one color, right? Not so! Explore how many colors of cloth you can get using onion skins and different solutions.
- Dyes and Dyeing
Multi-fiber fabric strips give surprising results in this lab (or do as a demo). Even if you don’t try it—take a look at the great background on fabric types.
- Fiber Test
Channel your inner detective as you try to figure out the fabrics in this lab.
- Great Balls of Fire
Find out which fabrics burn the fastest and learn about laws related to clothing flammability.
- Making Nylon—The "Nylon Rope Trick"
Bring two liquids together, then pull a thread of nylon from between them. When will it end?
- Making Rayon
Start with cotton, end with rayon. Learn about the formation of this “regenerated fiber.”
- Lost on Everest
You’re climbing in extreme conditions on Mt. Everest. What are the best clothes to have in your pack?
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
They clean like magic—but without the magic. It's science!
- Electronic Fibers Onto Fabrics
3D printers can take your clothing where it hasn't gone before.
- Nylon: A Revolution in Textiles
This textile caused riots early in its production. What’s the story behind this “miracle fiber”?
- Upcycling "Fast Fashion"
A shirt wears out, you toss it. What usually happens next? These researchers provide an alternative path.
- Textile Chemistry Careers
What education does it take to get into this specialized field? What will you do when you get there?
- The Chemistry of a Football Shirt
Learn what chemicals go into your shirt, plus why and how.
- How Chemistry Can Make Your Ironing Easier
Pull a piping hot shirt from the drier—will it be a mass of wrinkles or not? Is chemistry the cause? What can chemistry do to help?
- Seeing the Green Side of Innovation
“Green” clothing doesn’t just mean a color. Learn what clothing manufacturers are doing to keep your shirts sustainable.
- What's That Stuff: Dryer Sheets
Dryer goal: super soft clothing that doesn’t hang on to your socks for dear life. How can chemistry help?
- Bacteria for Cool Workout Clothes
Sweaty during a tough workout? The bacteria built into these clothes can help you out.
- Cotton Products Research
Chances are you’re wearing cotton or it’s sitting in your drawer. How did it become so popular?
- Hypercolor T-shirts
Were you around in the 1990s? Remember this science-based fabric fad? Read about its rise and fall.
- Catalytic Clothing—Purifying Air Goes Trendy
Could your clothes help clean the air? See what happens when an artist/designer and a chemist come together.
- Extreme Textiles
This book has great photos and descriptions of fiber uses you’ve probably never imagined. Think extreme!
- Fabric Softener and Intermolecular Forces
This short interactive gives you a molecular view of the science of your fabric softener.
- Nanoparticle-Coated Textiles
An end to laundry! It’s fabric that cleans itself with light.
- Solar Textile Collaboration
This fabric could harness the power of the sun. Find out about this blend of chemistry and art.
- Dye Me a River
You may have heard about the unexpected discovery of mauve, the first synthetic dye. But have you heard about its environmental aftermath?
- Franklin's Heat Experiment
You're not the first to try stuff with fabrics. Follow in Ben's footsteps.