One of the most interesting inventions of the past half decade, and an invention that has a chance to really change the way that basic chores are done at the home, is the waterless washing machine being developed by the Xeros company. Perhaps you are only just now hearing about this latest development, which is possible since the news of its development has been rolled out fairly slowly. In any event, here is the skinny on this latest labor saving device.

In order to understand how the so-called waterless washing machine actually works, you need to understand a little bit about how a traditional washing machine works as currently constituted. Washing machines really on a tremendous amount of resources in order to do their job effectively. Current washing machine technology require both a large amount of water and energy in order to wash a load of laundry. A typical 20th century washing machine will use somewhere between 5 and 6 gallons of water a day if it is used in a household of four or more people. Over time doing laundry in such a machine results in a huge drain on resources as thousands of gallons of water are required in a typical year. The fact of the matter is that this is profoundly wasteful and, as people in developed nations are becoming more and more aware of their own energy footprints, new more green friendly alternatives have been searched for quite some time.

To try to address the wasteful nature of washing machines, several researchers in England stumbled across a new technology that nearly solves the entirety of these problems. The developers wondered, what if we could create a clothes-washing technology that required a fraction of the detergent and water to run a load of wash, while saving energy as well? After some research, these developers found a simple answer. That answer? Re-usable nylon beads.

The Xeros company developed a new washing machine that uses small nylon beads to create friction with clothes during a wash. Because of the way that these washer beads (also called chips) rub up against the laundry in the machine the washing machine requires a fraction of the water required by traditional washing machines. And the best thing is that the beads are reusable and can last more than fifty loads of laundry before having to be replaced.

How does it work?

When a person decides to do a load of wash in a normal washing machine, they simply throw their clothes into the machine, add the detergent and press a button. The result is effective but quite wasteful. With the nearly waterless washing machine there are not any more involved steps. But the process is nearly 50 times more efficient. After you put your clothes into the machine, you only need add about a cup of water and a small amount of detergent. Whne you close the lid of the machine and press the start button, the machine fills the tub with these nylon beads. The beads themselves clean your clothes and then the beads are drawn to the bottom of the tub and trapped there. As a result, a person can wash a load of laundry with, literally, eight ounces of water.

The other great advantage of these waterless washing machines is that they produce laundry that is nearly entirely dry once the wash is done. Because of this, is it suggested that clothes dryers will become superfluous and that most people with these new washing machines will not even need them. It is estimated that these new washing machines, once they are fully adapted, can reduce the water consumption of a country like the United States by 20%.

Obviously, for these reasons most people who are interested in sustainable living are very excited about these new washing machines. I am expecting the new waterless washing machine to be one of the biggest hits of the early 21st century.