A new kind of washing machine promises to use half as much water, keep clothes from fading, and protect the water supply from a unique kind of pollution—and it’s all thanks to tens of thousands of tiny beads.
Called Xorbs, the beads are each about the size of a pea. Along with a little bit of water, they help to move clothes around while attracting and removing stains, dye, and dirt.
Xeros, the company that developed the technology, estimates that the beads can save up to 10 gallons per wash—not to mention detergent—and it may only add $50 to the initial cost of a washer.
We first covered Xeros’ plans back in 2014, when it was already in use in commercial laundry rooms.
Since then, Xeros has adapted the technology for home use, creating a consumer-size washer drum that can dispense 15 lbs. worth of beads during a wash, then collect them all when the wash is through.
We were left wondering how the beads didn’t end up tangled in clothes or stuck in pockets. But according to Xeros, only a handful of beads have escaped over hundreds of tests.
Additionally, Xeros developed a filter that keeps toxic microfibers from washing off clothes and into water supplies.
Similar to a dryer’s lint trap, it requires the user to empty it after each wash—but Xeros said that the extra effort isn’t just good for the environment, it might save your septic system.
Since Xeros isn’t in the business of building washing machines, both innovations will require a major manufacturer to license them. However, according to Xeros, multiple appliance companies have already expressed interest.
Xeros estimates the new technology could be available in consumer washing machines as soon as 2020.