The Washing Machine Project
Founders: Navjot Sawhne
The Washing Machine Project is dedicated to alleviating the burden of hand-washing clothes for low-income and displaced persons around the globe. 70% of the population do not have access to washing machines (Hans Rosling, 2010). Hand-washing clothes is a laborious task that can take up to 20 hours a week, and is a burden often disproportionately placed on women. Our research in 8 countries with 556 families found skin irritation from detergents and back and joint pain to be the main side effects of handwashing clothes. Electric washing machines rely on two resources which are often scarce in humanitarian contexts - water and electricity. Our off-the-grid, manual washing machine has a beneficiary-centred design and saves time, water and effort. Our pilot project in Iraq indicated a 75% reduction in the time spent washing and used far less water than an electric washing machine.
Our manually operated crank handle washing machine, named the Divya, is suitable for water and electricity scarce environments. Divya is water efficient, requiring just 20L of water per 5kg load compared to 40L in handwashing and up to 100L for some electric washing machines. Saving this volume of water is crucial during the pandemic to ensure safe hygiene practices are implemented to reduce the spread of viruses within refugee camps where social distancing is challenging. The machine has a user-focused design to promote positive posture, aimed at reducing back and joint pain, and eliminating skin irritation caused by contact with detergents. The technology is cost-effective and portable weighing only 12kg, increasing its suitability for low-income or humanitarian contexts. The built in spin dryer offers convenience and significantly reduces the time spent on this domestic burden which beneficiaries can use to pursue other activities to enrich their livelihood and communities.
The Washing Machine Project is a Community Interest Company dedicated to alleviating the burden of hand-washing clothes for low-income and displaced persons around the globe. Hand washing clothes is a laborious task that can take up to 20 hours a week and adds to the burden of unpaid domestic labour disproportionately carried out by women and girls. By developing off-grid, manual washing machines that save time, labour and water, The Washing Machine Project aims to address issues of gender inequality, unpaid domestic labour and water scarcity in humanitarian settings.
"It’s been a fantastic experience to be a part of this great organisation and event. This event is truly a pinnacle for entrepreneurs just starting out and we’re privileged to be a part of it. We believe Tata and Nacue can bring a lot of value to The Washing Machine Project’s scalability, and in return we would like to be at the forefront of their social impact."
"Start early and don’t worry about failure. Grow your network and keep turning up!"