Researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University have developed a chemical coating that could herald the introduction of self-cleaning clothes.

The coating, which reportedly eliminates dirt when exposed to sunlight, is comprised of a multitude of tiny titanium dioxide particles.

These molecules are less than 20 nanometres across - about 2500 times narrower than the width of a human hair - and help to break down the carbon-based molecules prevalent in stains.

Results of the study, undertaken by Hong Kong Polytechnic researchers Walid Daoud and John Xin, were published in Nature magazine.

"Titanium dioxide, in the presence of ultraviolet light, will oxidise a wide range of organic materials," Cambridge University chemical engineer Bob Skelton explained in an interview with the magazine.