Yesterday, all in the US were celebrating the Labor Day holiday and it was indeed a labor weekend for me. I agreed to help my sister with her house moving and not only did I find myself paper lining drawers and closet shelves, I also accompanied her into shopping for a new washing machine and dryer.
Since I use the neighborhood laundry mat, I had no idea that there are so many choices to pick! Front loaders, top loaders, machines that prevent allergy & asthma, stackable, portable, dryer with steamer, high energy saver, etc...
What I found in my search of the ultimate lean, green washing machine is that the R&D in this area are not only focusing on lower energy consuming machines, they are also looking to clean clothes without using detergents or water.
For example, the machine that the University of Leeds in the UK developed uses almost just a cup of water to wash clothes. Their washing machine uses plastic granules or chips that are tumbled with the clothes for stain remover thus reducing the need for water and detergent (as well as dryers).
The University carved out a company called Xeros to commercialize the technology, which the University said, will probably happen next year.
Here in the US, a company called Living Life Better is offering a machine that do not need hot water or detergents at all. Their Laundry Pure appliance can be hooked up to a standard washing machine and it works by injecting oxygen, peroxides and other gases as well as small amount of the antibacterial silver into the wash water line, which bubbles into clothing to lift out dirt and odors.
You do need to pretreat your clothes if they have stains, the company said.
"The benefits of this product are incredible," says Emil Gamm of Living Life Better. "Allergy relief, financial and energy savings, and a reduction in environmental pollution caused by the release of harmful laundry waste and wasted energy, are all benefits offered by this amazing new product."Do you think consumers will soon be more comfortable using gases and a tiny amount of silver in their clothes than detergents??
Japan is actually the forefront of eco-friendly washing machine developments. In 2006, Sanyo introduced its Aqua washing machine which has the air wash option, meaning it can disinfect & deodorize clothes (without water) by using the household air injected with ozone.
Of course you can still use water for washing especially in more soiled clothing. The best part of this machine is that it has the ability to recycle the water from the first washing cycle using its ozone function to purify the water.
The odd thing is that this machine didn't really catch on with the Japanese consumers when it was launched in 2006. Maybe it has something to do with the recycled water?
But with water and energy saving now at the forefront of consumer concern, maybe some of this new gadgets will catch on eventually.
Major appliance manufacturer Electrolux even holds its yearly global design competition for innovative household appliances. Some of the winning concepts include the Airwash waterless washing machine that uses negative ions, compressed air and deodorants to clean clothes; the KaionWave washing system, also a waterless washer and dryer machine that uses ultraviolet-C light and free radical oxygen to clean and sanitize clothing; and the soap nut washing machine designed to use soap nuts instead of detergents to clean clothes.
I'm not sure if Electrolux already made a move to commercialize these intriguing concepts but for now they settled on launching a machine called Sunny that can use solar heated water.