That's the question that may soon be popping up in closets and clothes store everywhere. Researchers in Germany have found that by adding vinyl derivatives of various catalysts to nylon fabric and exposing it to 222 nm light (a KrCL eximer source! Couldn't a 254 nm UV bulb work as well?), the vinyl group reacted with the substrate while leaving the catalyst unaltered. The catalysts showed high durability, surviving in some cases, over 300 cycles of use and reuse.
As the researchers point out, the ease with which these catalytic supports can be made, shaped and recovered offers a significant advantage over more standard supported catalysts.
Catalytic clothing is not a new concept, but the previous efforts were around incorporating photocatalytic materials (such as TiO2) in a fabric. This is a much more versatile approach that allows for multiple types of catalysts to be incorporated into the fabric. The one advantage that photocatalytic catalysts have is that they work with gaseous reagents and products. The catalysts used here, such as dimethylaminopyridine are for working with liquids. Walking down the street and catalyzing the oxidation of car exhaust is one thing - nobody is going to be walking down the street catalyzing a Bayliss-Hillman reaction.