Oxwash is looking to shake up a broken laundry industry. They are creating innovative solutions to help minimise laundry's impact on the environment. BBC Click's, Chris Fox took a visit to Oxwash's lagoon in Battersea, London. Whilst there he asked founder, Kyle Grant why people would want to send their clothes away to be washed.
We're here to explain why.
At the moment, figures show that domestic laundry produces significant amounts of C02e. A single load of laundry at 60˚C, preceded by tumble drying, produces the equivalent of 3.3kg of CO2. Assuming the average household does a wash every other day, they would produce 603.9kg of C02e each year. To put into perspective, that is more than the weight of a Polar Bear.
At Oxwash, we make sure that all washes are on the lowest heat possible. With our technology we save 1.4kg CO2 emissions per 8-kilogram wash. Our biodegradable detergents, coupled with our ozone integration, provide excellent results at 20˚C as opposed to the standard 40˚C - 60 ˚C.
At Oxwash we also use a roller iron to dry, iron and fold sheets and bedding in under a minute. This helps cut down the use of tumble dryers that use a huge amount of C02.
What is Ozone? Ozone is a molecule that is usually found in the outer atmosphere, it protects us from UV! At Oxwash we use ozone technology to deodorise and disinfect delicate textiles. Ozone cupboards convert surrounding air it into 90% oxygen. This is then split into ozone and injected into the garment to disinfect it.
Post-pandemic, risk of infection is an ever-present concern, especially within healthcare and hospitality. By using ozone technology Oxwash are able to guarantee the ability to kill 99.99% of infections during the cleaning process. Ozone technology is the most innovative way to kill bacteria, mould and viruses. It is also more environmentally efficient, avoiding harmful chemicals.
Washing clothes requires large amounts of water - a single wash cycle uses between 50 - 80 litres. A study done by Oxwash, Vanish and The Prophets showed that washing machines in the UK use an estimated 360 billion litres of water yearly. That’s enough to drain Lake Windermere!
At Oxwash, our washing machines have built-in reclamation tanks. They allow us to store water from the last cycle of one load and use it as the first cycle on the next. This allows us to save 60% of our water consumption compared to a commercial washing machine and 70% compared to a domestic washing machine.
Most traditional laundry detergents are manufactured using synthetic chemicals. They often contain chlorine, bleach, dyes, fragrances and optical brighteners which contaminate waterways.
Conventional dry cleaning is not the solution to clothing aftercare either. Dry cleaning, despite its name, is neither dry nor clean. It usually involves soaking clothes in a toxic solvent called Perchloroethylene or 'Perc'. This solvent is thought to be a human carcinogen and has been banned or phased out in some countries, including the US, since 2007. Those working with Perc in dry cleaning have been known to suffer short-term side effects such as dizziness, headaches and nausea. More alarmingly, evidence suggests long-term exposure can cause miscarriages and leukaemia.
At Oxwash, we are trying to create a positive impact on the environment. We are challenging the tired and out-dated practices of traditional dry cleaning. Instead we use new, innovative wet cleaning technology. Wet cleaning is just as effective but without the negative health and environmental impacts of dry-cleaning. It is a cleaning method that only used water and biodegradable detergents, avoiding the use of chemical solvents such as Perc.
Our machines have been adapted to achieve fourth generation wet cleaning capability. This means that the equipment we use can process 'dry clean-only' items as well as standard laundry. The machines are able to calculate dynamic cycles based on fabric and garment type. They are then able to determine a variable volume dosage of biodegradable detergent per cycle. Wet cleaning technology allows us to achieve clean and soft garments with a minimal addition of chemistry to our washing process.
Oxwash also makes use of a spotting table to help remove those hard to lift stains. A spotting table usually has a water spray, steam gun and air gun. This means we are able to loosen stains from the affected garment without the use of harsh chemicals.
Another huge issue with washing is the lack of filtration. One third of ALL ocean plastic are microfibres from our clothes, this has to stop.
Synthetic fibres such as Polyester, Nylon and Acrylic are fundamentally made of plastic. When garments made of synthetic fibres are put through a washing cycle, they crash together causing micro-plastics to break up. Even by today's standard, most common household washing machines have no filtration system . Unfortunately, this means these micro-plastics end up in our waterways and oceans, causing great harm to our ecosystems.
Washing our clothes is predicted to release 500,000 tons of microfibres into the ocean each year. This is equivalent to 50 billion plastic bottles. The pollution of marine ecosystems has become a problem on a global scale which still lacks innovative solutions. With the average household washing between 2 - 8 loads a week, it is only adding to the issue.
When you send your items to Oxwash, we wash them in our specialised machines, which are able to capture up to 1 million microfibres per kg we wash. At Oxwash we are rapidly implementing microfibre filtration in 2022 to capture more than 95% of all the fibres shed during washing. This process prevents plastic pollution in our waterways and even our drinking water.