Sunday, 15 June 2008

Washing without water

Recently the University of Leeds announced that one of their spin-off companies, Xeros, is commercialising a process of washing (and dry-cleaning) clothes, first developed by researchers at the university.

Plastic granules are put into the machine with the clothes to remove dirt. Tests have shown that they remove stains as effectively as normal washing methods and clothes are left as fresh. They estimate the new method will use less than 2% of the water and energy of a conventional machine, and of course there is no need for a tumble dryer. They are hoping it will be available in 2009.

Presumably there will be no need for a fabric conditioner, nor will you be hanging the clothes on an outdoor line, so I'm wondering how fresh is "as fresh"? Nevertheless, the saving in water and electricity will make it very, very attractive.

They believe the process can also be used for dry-cleaning, removing the need for harmful solvents which are linked to certain types of cancer, a great step in improving safety.

How will the soap manufacturers react? Will they be offering to supply a bar of soap to the developing world if we buy 10 packets of washing powder?

University of Leeds press release.

Updated with a more recent press release.
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  1. That sounds like a fantastic idea. I hope it comes onto the market - I'd certainly be willing to give it a try.

    I'm wondering, though, if you ever need to wash the plastic bits?

  2. Thanks for posting this, living in South Africa I can see that this will be a great product in our rural areas where there is no electricity and little water. I hope you don't mind but I copied the post onto my blog so that the SA people can get excited as well.

  3. @Solomon, they didn't give anything away in any detail, but presumably there must be some way to "regenerate" the plastic. I hope so, otherwise are we going to be using a whole load more plastic?

    @Frostygirl, I don't mind at all - delighted in fact!

  4. What an interesting idea... would love to see it in action and to have a sniff at the clothes afterwards!

  5. Yes Ladybanana, it's the sniff test that's important :)

  6. I want one NOW - the water's coming out of the tap yellow again so the whites wash will have to wait

  7. Wow..innovative! I dun mind owning one..saves money on water and detergent.

  8. Hi j, yes I'd like one too. We could dispense with the drier and have more room.
    @My bug life, and I've realised too, that it will save time if you take them out of the machine virtually dry.

  9. don't like the idea cause it is plastic. A petroleum product. If they could make it out of something better then I am all for it.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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