It’s a tale as old as the Big Lap itself and with much of Australia gripped yet again by drought-like conditions, it’s a problem that’s not going to go away … or is it?
Could the days of being forced into a van park by a mountainous pile of dirty washing really be numbered?
It does seem hard to believe. After all, even the newest ‘you beaut’ motorhome washing machines need water to do what they do … and when the creeks are dry and the tanks are low, there’s nothing for it but to keep re-using those horrible socks and undies!
But a technological breakthrough from the UK’s University of Leeds could be about to end the misery of those who dread the hygiene horrors of a week or two in the Outback.
While the average modern washing machine consumes maybe 60 or 70 litres of water per load, the newly developed Xeros washing machine is set to use … well … next to nothing.
Instead of water, specially designed polymer beads are used to loosen and lift soil stains from fabrics. Best of all, the same beads can be used again for up to 100 loads. The dream of a completely waterless washing machine remains just that however as the Xeros still requires a small cup of water. This acts as a lubricant in the washing process and a little is also needed to rinse away the small amount of detergent used.
Xeros says the polymer beads provide a gentle, uniform mechanical action on the cloth, aiding the removal of stains. Apparently, 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.
What it all means, according to Xeros, is that great cleaning can be achieved at lower temperatures using less electricity, less detergent, and a lot less water.
Some professional cleaners are already using the Xeros washing machines and they will soon be appearing in domestic settings. There is no specific word on when they will hit the caravan or motorhome market, or be made in a portable version. No word either on what’s going to stop those tiny beads getting into every pocket, collar and crease imaginable!