Self- Washing, Drying, and Folding Clothes

Imagine never having to do your own laundry ever again! No, we don’t mean moving back in with your parents.

We’re referring to advances in modern technology that make the science fiction prospect of self-washing, self-drying, and self-folding clothes look more like reality.

The Origin of Robots

Robots have been around for decades now, but did you know that engineers have been attempting to create self-operating machines since way back in the Ancient days? Ancient Egyptians attempted to build robots with purposes ranging from labor to music.

After many hundreds of years, those designs would come to sound less like fantastical musings of bored engineers and terrified musicians and more like the active studies of university roboticists.

As of the mid 2010s, the invention of Foldimate brought robotic laundry-folding from theory into reality. Resembling a printer, Foldimate enables you to insert your clothes and remove the folded results. However, this is far from self-washing, self-drying, or self-folding.

Robots are Everywhere, Even in Our Clothes

While the idea of robotic clothes sounds nonsensical and borderline facetious, it is very much on the horizon. Researchers at York University in the U.K. have discovered a way to create robots inspired by origami, capable of being designed in small sizes and folding in on themselves.

If this technology were to be applied to the textile industry, which it very well might be in the coming years, clothes would be able to be programmed to perform a variety of different functions including, of course, folding in on themselves.

This would mean that the robots in your gym shorts could theoretically be programmed to release an odor or perfume in response to increased levels of sweat in order to prevent that horrid gym smell from following you everywhere you go. 

In fact, self-drying clothing technology is already somewhat popular in the global textile market. Although this is more accurately referred to as “quick-dry” technology, how much different would it really be from a robotic t-shirt quickly drying itself?

Popular Media

In 2016, self-cleaning clothes were making waves and occupying headlines in the technology industry when Australian researchers discovered a way to manufacture textiles that could clean themselves when exposed to sunlight.

The textiles were designed with an intricate nanostructure designed to speed up the degradation of various organic compounds, even including common stain-inducing nightmares such as tomato sauce or fruit juice.

This was supposed to be done by enabling the nanostructures to react positively to sunlight giving them a metabolic boost, which would act as an adverse reagent in the decomposition of the stain-causing matter.


Although nobody has yet to succeed in the creation of self-washing, self-drying, and self-cleaning clothes, the technology already exists! That means, it’s only a matter of time until somebody finds a commercially viable way to produce this science-fiction oddity.

Further Reading

For more details on how sunlight affects ordinary clothing, check out this great article. For more information on what clothing that relies on sunlight would require in order to prevent putting the wearer at increased risk of skin cancer, click here.