Xeros Washing Machine Uses Beads Instead Of Water
High-efficiency washing machines may soon have new competition: the Xeros. This, however, is no ordinary high-efficiency machine; it uses tiny plastic spheres to clean clothes and absorb both smells and stains, making the Xeros almost completely waterless. Glamorous? Not really. Innovative? Definitely.
“Traditional laundry machines still operate on the basic principle of dousing fabrics in hot water and detergent, soaking them for long periods of time, and then dropping and slopping them around with an aggressive mechanical action,” states Xeros on its website. It’s the company’s mission to change the way people think about slopping their laundry around.
Each machine contains millions of nylon polymer beads — 1.3 million, to be exact. According to the Daily Mail, each load of laundry requires the beads, a cup of water, and “a few drops” of Xeros detergent. Once the machine starts, the beads become absorbent in the humidity and attract dirt and dye not just to their surface, but actually absorb it into their center.
After the cycle is over, the beads are spun out of the drum and returned to a special sump pump, where they await the next 500 loads.
These magical beads don’t just use less than 20 percent of the water of a normal washing machine; they also use only half of the electricity, according to the Daily Mail. Although Crest Cleaners chief executive David Slan tells the Washington Post that his current utility cost savings are “not earth-shattering,” he still wants his 14 locations to contain nothing but Xeros machines within the next few years in order to brace his company for an increase in water costs.
Xeros can’t make any promises about utility bills, but it does promise massive savings in water itself: It claims that the U.S. laundry industry could have saved over 16.5 billion gallons of water since 2013 if it had been using Xeros machines instead of traditional commercial ones.
But what about the beads themselves? “Nylon polymer” doesn’t sound like a very Earth-friendly material, but amazingly, it appears that it is. Xeros says that its beads are completely recyclable, so after you’ve used them for your 500 loads of laundry, they don’t just get thrown away to trickle to the bottom of a landfill and stay there forever, as you might expect small plastic beads to do.
Currently, the Xeros is only available in commercial form for hotels and laundry services, but Xeros Chief Executive Bill Westwater tells the Daily Mail that a household form is being developed; the company is building and testing prototypes, so within the next few years, nylon beads might become the new norm in household cleaning.