Innovation That Matters

Oxwash provides a sustainable laundry service | Photo source Oxwash

Making laundry more sustainable


A sustainable laundry system uses space age technology, AI, electric vehicles, and reclaimed water to make commercial washing greener


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Spotted: One of the best ways to make wardrobes more sustainable is to wear each item of clothing longer. However, this also leads to problems, as many people turn to dry cleaning to ensure that clothes are not damaged during cleaning. Dry cleaning uses chemicals that can have a negative impact on the environment and human health. Now, Oxwash, a UK startup, has developed a comprehensive system for improving the sustainability of dry cleaning and commercial laundry.

Oxwash solution revolves around the use of ‘wet’ cleaning, which replaces the harsh solvents used in dry cleaning with biodegradable detergents. The company was started in 2017 by scientist Dr Kyle Grant and engineer Tom de Wilton after the pair became fed up with ‘unreliable’ washing machines on the University of Oxford’s campus. In addition to the sustainable detergents, the process also uses ‘ozone technology’ to deodorise and sanitise clothes at lower temperatures than those in traditional commercial laundry processes—a method also used in hospital sterilisation and during space missions.

To improve sustainability further, Oxwash uses electric vans and e-bikes to pick up and deliver orders, as well as robots to assist with ironing and folding at scale. The company also reclaims and recycles washing water and filters out more than 95 per cent of microfibers shed during washing. Artificial intelligence (AI) is used to identify items and materials and adjust the washing accordingly. The startup operates out of a limited number of hubs to ensure economies of scale, and its customers include both businesses and individuals.

According to the company, the goal of Oxwash is to prove, “that we can wash clothes and textiles with no net impact on our ecosystems and communities. It’s a huge challenge but as engineers, scientists and human beings facing down climate collapse, we’re determined to meet the challenge head on.”

As global energy prices soar and water shortages loom, innovators are increasingly eyeing energy-intensive clothes-washing as an area ripe for sustainability improvements. Springwise has covered a range of innovations in this area, including a device that washes clothes with recycled shower water and an after-market filter that can be attached to washing machines to remove microplastics. 

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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