I poured soy sauce all over my hydrophobic white shirt (hands-on)


A new all-cotton hydrophobic shirt from Threadsmiths runs a liquid gauntlet full of coffee, tea, soy sauce and wine.

Threadsmiths t-shirt
I was told to pose like I was an American Apparel ad.
Amanda Kooser/CNET

I don’t
own any white shirts. Or white pants. Or white jackets. I’m too prone
to dropping things on them, like coffee when it’s early in the morning
and my coordination isn’t all there, or to mud splatters when I’m out
mucking around in the garden. White clothes just aren’t safe around me.

Therefore, I was intrigued when Australian startup Threadsmiths
got in touch about sending me a white T-shirt said to repel all
water-based liquids, including notorious stainers like coffee and red
wine, both of which see a lot of use in my house.

Threadsmiths shirt with tea on it
Tea just pools up on the surface of the Threadsmiths shirt.
Amanda Kooser/CNET

Hydrophobia has been a hot topic ever since NeverWet,
a silicone-based coating, came to the public’s attention in 2011. You
can now buy the stuff at the local hardware store. Since then, we’ve
seen hydrophobic shirts like the polyester Silic, some polyester-blend swim trunks from Frank Anthony and hydrophobic fabric spray LiquidOff.

upshot is that Threadsmiths has some competition. The company is
setting itself apart by offering 100 percent cotton T-shirts, no
polyester involved. It also has women’s sizes and plans to introduce a
line for kids and babies.

I tried out the women’s Cavalier
in medium, a flattering shirt with a body-skimming cut and mild scoop
neck. It feels like a nice, normal cotton T-shirt, though it’s weird to
see myself in the mirror wearing white. I set about designing a torture
test for the shirt and came up with this arsenal: water, tea, coffee,
red wine and soy sauce. Taking the shirt outside on a cold day, I doused
it in turn with each one, rinsing with water in between (check out the
video action below).

The Cavalier bounced the water off like the
shirt was made from Captain America’s shield. The coffee, red wine and
soy sauce tried valiantly to stay on the surface, but a quick splash of
water took any remains of those liquids right off. By the time it was
all done, the shirt came out looking just like it had when it arrived:
clean and sparkly white.

I wasn’t content to just leave it there. I then took the shirt to a dojo for two hours of Aikido workouts. Normally, I wear technical-fabric shirts for training. I wouldn’t even think of wearing all-cotton. The Cavalier quickly dried off as I wore it home. It also didn’t seem to absorb any odor. It’s one shirt I wouldn’t worry about wearing to an event right after sweating through an intense martial-arts session.
I have since washed the Cavalier and tested it under water again. The liquid still beads right up and runs off the surface like it’s being chased by a tiger. Threadsmiths says the nanotech coating can last for up to 50 washes, which is a decent lifetime for a T-shirt.

The Cavalier costs $53 (about £34, AU$65). It’s not designed to handle oily substances, so if you’re prone to dropping bottles of olive oil down your front, you may want to invest in a rain jacket instead. It’s worth noting (after extensive testing by applying CNET test cats directly to the shirt’s surface) that pet hair sticks to the shirt like any other normal cotton fabric. That’s not a complaint.
Perhaps what’s most magical about the Threadsmiths tee is that is makes me believe I could have a white shirt in my wardrobe, a fantasy I had previously relegated into the same file as unicorns and finding Elvis on Mars.


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