How Self-cleaning Paint Works

Can we just paint everything this way?

This new coating is hydrophobic, which means it repels water, and oleo-phobic, which means it repels oil.
This new coating is hydrophobic, which means it repels water, and oleo-phobic, which means it repels oil.
(Courtesy of Nissan)

If you let your imagination run wild, it seems like this self-cleaning paint could be useful for all kinds of things. We've already talked about how nano-coatings and other self-cleaning paints can be especially useful for chores such as property maintenance. A graffiti-repelling exterior paint could make a huge difference in a lot of urban landscapes, and highly-trafficked areas would stay a lot cleaner for a lot longer if only they didn't attract dirt and grime.

There are other benefits to nano-coatings, too. Nano Labs says the paint is eco-friendly and also helps materials perform better over time. In other words, the protective qualities of the Nano Labs coating helps prevent damage and degradation, so if you apply the paint to, say, a wooden fence, the wood underneath the paint will stay strong and functional longer than if it was finished with regular paint. Other, more specialized products are already on the market, and new ones will almost certainly be introduced as the technology becomes more advanced. For example, Rust-Oleum, a paint brand that offers a lot of special-purpose paints and coatings to regular consumers, offers a water-repellent spray paint.

As for the automotive industry, it's unclear whether nano-coatings will become a commonplace offering, or if it'll remain exclusive to a single manufacturer for the time being. We won't really know more until Nissan completes its testing in the United Kingdom. Nissan eventually plans to make the paint available across its model range; but, at least for now, it'll be an option rather than a standard feature [source: Lingeman]. The industrial version of the paint can be manufactured in almost any color, and can also be matched to existing colors, although it's not yet clear if Nissan's automotive version will be quite as versatile. If automotive self-cleaning paint is a success, someday we might see a lot less bird poop on a lot more cars.

Author's Note: How Self-Cleaning Paint Works

I enjoyed washing my cars, but I'm kind of weird like that. And even the most enthusiastic DIY detailer doesn't want to touch a car covered in bird poop. But the most intriguing potential for this new paint? If it really does prevent snow and ice buildup, as Nissan claims -- well, that's pretty remarkable. It seems like an unlikely possibility (considering the too-recent memories of our frigid winter) that a paint can prevent cold water from freezing to a cold car. But, we'll see.

Related Articles


  • Golson, Jordan. "RIP, Car Washes: See Nissan's New Self-Cleaning Paint in Action." Wired. April 28, 2014. (June 16, 2014)
  • Hamamoto, Michael. "Nissan Testing 'Self-Cleaning' Car Through the Use of Oleophobic Paint." April 25, 2014. (June 16, 2014)
  • Lingeman, Jake. "Nissan testing self-cleaning paint that repels water and dirt." Autoweek. April 25, 2014. (June 16, 2014)
  • Nano Labs. "Nano Labs Announces New Technology in Self-Cleaning Paint." May 6, 2013. (June 16, 2014)
  • Preston, Benjamin. "Nissan Tests Self-Cleaning Car." The New York Times. May 2, 2014. (June 16, 2014)
  • Sto Corp. "StoCoat Lotusan Coating for Exterior EIFS Stucco & Concrete." (June 16, 2014),com_catalog2/Itemid,196/catID,43/catLevel,5/lang,en/productID,34/subCatID,44/subCatIDBP,44/subCatIDnext,0/