How to look and stay cool: Wear clothes made from kitchen wrap

A low-cost textile made using a plastic similar to kitchen wrap that cools the body when woven into clothing has been unveiled by researchers. The new material could become a way to keep people living in hot climates cool without using air conditioning, they say. Like cotton, the textile allows sweat to evaporate but also allows through heat the body gives off as infrared radiation.

If you can cool the person rather than the building where they work or live, that will save energy

Researcher Prof Yi Cui

All objects – including our bodies – discharge heat as infrared radiation in the form of invisible light wavelengths. Clothing usually traps those wavelengths close to the body but the Stanford scientists adapted kitchen film to develop the new material. In tests, cotton fabric made the skin 3.6F (2C) warmer than the new material. “Wearing anything traps some heat and makes the skin warmer,” said researcher Prof Shanhui Fan. “If dissipating thermal radiation were our only concern, then it would be best to wear nothing.”

When you touch it, it’s soft, it’s flexible, and it almost feels like a regular fabric. What’s missing is that texture. A regular textile is not flat

Prof Cui is working on improving the feel of the textile