March 16, 2009 It’s a great example of thinking outside of the box: as industrial design firm RKS were redesigning a salad spinner they discovered women were buying them to wash their delicates, so they modified the technology and created a portable, hand-powered laundry machine. The Laundry POD is stylish, easy to use and eco-friendly, saving energy and water, and is perfect for delicate items, “in between” and small loads, camping and travelling.

You can’t turn on the TV or read a newspaper these days without being reminded of the need to save water and reduce electricity consumption - or of rising utilities costs. The prototype Laundry POD is a winner on many counts:

  • There’s no wasting of water and energy by using big machines for small loads
  • Gray water can be re-used for watering plants, flushing, etc when eco-friendly soap is used
  • It’s made from recycled materials but looks stylish
  • It can be used anywhere as there’s no need to hook it up to a water supply
  • It saves trips to the laundromat and dry cleaner – great for apartment dwellers and students
  • It’s big enough for a small load, but small enough for easy storage

There are other portable hand washers on the market, but the big advantage of the Laundry POD is that it also extracts water rather than users having to wring out the clothes manually. This improves drying time, reduces the risk of damage to delicate items – and saves on elbow grease (which, lets face it, is one of the main reasons we prefer our washing machines over grandma's old-fashioned mangle washer).

RKS is the industrial design consultancy behind the Zyliss Smart Touch™ Salad Spinner. It was while re-engineering and redesigning this product they learned that women were using salad spinners to wash their delicate items. Independently, leading commercial laundry machine manufacturer American Dryer Corporation (ADC), had identified the need for an easy, energy-efficient way to clean small loads of laundry and discovered that salad spinners effectively mimicked washing-machine agitation. ADC became aware of RKS’s work for Zyliss and enlisted them to develop a concept for a hand-powered, high-performance, laundry device for small loads.

ADC is looking to partner with a consumer products company to get the Laundry POD into the consumer market.

The Laundry POD won 4th place in Core77’s Greener Gadgets Design Competition 2009, “aimed at generating outstanding design innovations for greener electronics.” Designs sought to minimize the environmental impact of consumer electronic devices at any stage in the product lifecycle. Areas of sustainability to consider included energy, materials/lifecycle/recycling, social impact, and educational development.

First place winner was the Tweet-a-Watt, twittering power meter.

Karen Sprey

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