Environmentally Friendly Washing Machine Uses Lots and Lots of Beads to Clean Your Clothes

It's how the Jetsons do their laundry, and they seem clean enough.
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If you’re concerned about the environment, your electric bill, and clean clothes, fret no more: we officially live in the future. The Xeros washing machine uses just a cup of water and recycled, reusable polymer beads to remove stains from clothes. No, not bees! Beads! Although, a washing machine full of bees would be awesome, too.

Developed by Stephen Burkinshaw at the University of Leeds after thirty years of research, Xeros promises on its website that users will be able to “turn on the beads. Watch the savings flow.”


Obviously, many consumers are critical of a synthetic material being touted as environmentally friendly. Does the amount of water saved by Xeros justify the numbers of chemicals used to create its beads? Xeros beads are recycled and can be used for roughly six months (up to 1oo washes, depending on how dirty you are.) That seems like great news for the environment, especially considering how many chemicals are used in detergent.

Xeros explains how their little beads are such powerful cleaners:

Xeros takes these elements required for good cleaning, and completely reinvents them. The polymer beads provide a gentle, uniform mechanical action on the cloth, aiding the removal of stain and soil. Their hydrophobic nature allows better removal of oily and greasy stains than with water based systems, and their polar surface chemistry attracts and retains all types of stain as it is transported away from the cloth surface. Some polymers even have the ability to absorb stains into their molecular structure.

As a result, great cleaning can be achieved at lower temperatures, and with less detergent than has previously been possible. Water acts as a lubricant in the Xeros process rather than as the main wash medium, and hence much less water is required. Rinse water too is reduced, as there is less detergent to be rinsed away.

Here’s a video of the power of beads in action.

If you still think it’s impossible to get your duds properly clean without hot water and suds, consider that the lower temperatures employed be Xeros keeps clothes looking newer for longer. It’s also hard to argue with these budget-friendly statistics: Xeros users would save an estimated 47% in electricity costs and 72% in water usage.

The new technology is already saving various hotels and gym facilities big bucks in electricity and water costs and will be available on the wider market in the next couple of years.

Soon you, too can bee the change you wish to see in the world. Oh, did I say bee? I mean bead.

(via Gizmodo, image via Xeros Cleaning)


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