01 The Waterless Washing Company

Tags
Resource Scarcity
Sustainability
Product Design

Case Details

Contributors
Sille Eva Bertelsen
Maximillian Medhurst
Alex Dallman-Porter
Ki Wa Sheng
Date
IDE 2021
Theme
Low-Impact Living
Links
Website
E-mail

The Waterless Washing Company is changing the way you'll wash your clothes. We decided to tackle the sustainability challenges faced by the fashion industry but uniquely did this by tackling the use-phase of clothing. To do this we have created a completely new washing process which uses no water or liquids of any kind. Eliminating the water reduces pressure on our diminishing fresh-water resources and significantly reduces the energy consumption of washing. Eliminating the water makes the process much gentler on clothes, helping them last longer and be re-used and re-sold many more times, further cleaning up the fashion industry.

The Problem with Water

Whilst it might be synonymous with washing, using water to wash clothes actually creates several problems:

Damages clothes - the water used in a machine wash causes shrinking, fading and warping.

Depletes fresh water - one quarter of the world’s population faced extreme water stress in 2019(1) A single washing machine uses 13,000L of freshwater per year(2)

Requires drying - water necessitates drying, which further damages clothes and is energy intensive, or painfully slow.

Releases microfibres - machine washing clothes releases billions of microfibres into our waterways, which already account for 35% of ocean microplastics(3)

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A Waterless Washing Solution

In response to this we have developed a revolutionary new waterless washing process. Clothes are simply tumbled with our proprietary cleaning pyramids, which effectively remove odours from clothes and kill bacteria.

To perform our process we have developed a brand new type of washing machine, that's visually striking and pleasing to use. Between uses, the machine deflates, creating a sense of process for the user and preventing overfilling.

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A Device for the Home

Our machine is designed to be placed in any room of the home, visually it appears more like a piece of furniture than a machine, it requires no plumbing connection and can be placed anywhere there's a plug socket, it's small, and it's quiet during use.

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Sustainable and Convenient

Compared to traditional water-based washing, our process performs vastly better in terms of environmental impact, demonstrating that we have achieved our original goal.

But switching to waterless washing also vastly simplifies the user journey, making our device a pleasure to use. We hope that users will adopt our process because of its convenience, and how well it fits into their homes and lives, rather than relying solely on sustainability as a motivator.

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Results

We have performed some early testing to validate the effectiveness of our new washing process. In blind tests, independent assessors found that our process dramatically reduced the intensity of unpleasant smells on fabric samples washed with our process. The odour reducing abilities were considered to be equivalent to traditional water-based washing.

We plan to further develop our process to improve its effectiveness and refine our washing parameters.

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References

1. Aqueduct Water Risk Areas

https://www.wri.org/applications/aqueduct/water-risk-atlas/

2. The European Commission (2014) ‘Environmental Improvement Potential of textiles’

3. Laitala, K., Klepp, I. G., & Henry, B. (2018) ‘Does use matter? Comparison of environmental impacts of clothing based on fiber type’