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Washing machine that only needs a cup of water

September 17, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink – and all because our washing machine has quaffed the lot. But that might soon be about to change. Academics at Leeds University have pioneered a new method for washing our clothes that uses only 2% of the water and electricity previously needed and it’s not just washing our pants – it dries them too!

The secret lies in dozens of little plastic chips, about half a centimetre in size, which are released into the machines along with the cupful of water and your detergent. The small amount of water then heats up and dissolves the dirt on the clothes, whatever they are from coffee to lipstick. After that, the chips bash against the dissolved dirt, absorb it all in the cycle and get clothes sparkling.

After each wash, the magic chips are removed from the machine but kept and then used up to 100 times after this, which for the average household will approximate to 6 months worth of washing, although that obviously depends on how often you wash your clothes.

There is certainly demand for this technology – called Xeros – as the average household consumes up to 37 pints per day in washing clothes, 13% of the total usage. That’s 800 million pints across the UK per day. The technology has been supported by a number of organisations that help monitor water consumption, including Waterwise. The chips mean you need to buy a new washing machine and then the chips themselves too, but this could all be on the market as early as next year and it could save you hundreds a year so start saving up.

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