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TECHNOLOGY

Ioning your way to cleaner clothes

By Julie Clothier for CNN

story.washing-machine.jpg
The "Airwash" cleans clothes without water or detergent and can be placed in any room of the home.

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Singapore
Technology (general)

(CNN) -- Designers behind a washing machine that does not require water or detergent to clean clothes say the idea could be a common household appliance one day.

The idea is the brainchild of two Singaporean design students who won top honors at the recent International Electrolux Design Lab awards in Stockholm for their "Airwash" washing machine.

National University of Singapore industrial design students Gabriel Tan and Wendy Chua's prototype uses negative ions, compressed air and anti-bacterial deodorants to clean clothes.

The unit uses no water or detergents, and can be placed in any room of a home. Clothing is placed on a rack, which slides inside the device.

"It's a bit like a car wash," Tan told CNN. "The clothing goes on a rack which is placed inside the machine. The clothing then gets a good blast. It's a substitute for taking items to the dry cleaner."

He said the cleaning process was much gentler on clothes than conventional methods, and was particularly useful for expensive clothing that could lose its shape and color through washing with water and detergents.

By using atmospheric air and negative ions, a natural cleansing agent, it fights dirt and bacteria with nature's own weapon, he said.

The Airwash cleans one piece of clothing at a time, with each item taking between three and 12 minutes to complete the process.

"In a poetic sense, we are using nature's weapons, nature's cleansing agents, to solve a problem," Tan said.

Chua told CNN that she and Tan had taken technology and processes commonly used in air conditioning and air purifying units and adapted it for an alternative use.

At this stage the Airwash is a concept prototype but she believed it could one day become a commercial reality.

"Our dream would be to see it on the market one day, not for personal pride, but because we genuinely believe it will be good for the environment and have a positive impact on the lives of people -- be it as a consumer product or as a replacement for today's commercial dry cleaners."

Judges at the competition said the "Airwash" won the award because of: "its intuitive, ecological and beautiful design. Airwash also does away with the expensive, time-consuming task of going to the dry cleaner."

The competition is organized annually by the Electrolux Group and aims to encourage students from around the world to design household appliances for the future.

This year, participants competed to create the most outstanding new appliance concept for the home of 2020.

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