Maybe not, but it has saved lives. Doing laundry by hand was hardcore and caused quite a lot of physical damage to people, including deaths.
The tl;dr version is this: doing laundry entirely by hand involves a high level of physical exertion, most of it highly repetitive and crouched over in an unnatural manner for a substantial amount of time. This alone caused a great deal of physical injury and deformity, sometimes leading directly to death.
The washing machine itself was not really invented as a time-saving device. It was invented primarily to make doing laundry less physically harmful. Any time savings was just gravy.
It is commonly held by researchers that the washing machine (we're not even talking about electric or automatic washing machines here) is one of the top 10 most important inventions in terms of impact on health and longevity.
100% cotton/silk etc clothes don’t have that issue.
A while back we got fed up with our apartment's laundry facilities, and switched to one of those Haier portable washer units, drying on a clothesline, and washing less often. At this point I'm almost annoyed with how much longer my clothing is lasting, because I'm ready for some new colors.
Particularly the drier. But I think most people use their driers wrong -- they want their clothes to be bone dry when they come out, and that's what causes the largest amount of wear and tear (all that lint in your lint trap is the result of damage to your clothing). Better to have the drier get the clothes almost, but not quite, completely dry.
Dryers are probably the worst of it. Every time you clean a lint trap, it's a demonstration of how much wear and tear they put on fabric.
1. Sorting - when you buy clothing, do you take handling instructions into account? Accounting for handling is very hard! Good luck shopping online, hunting through instruction tags hidden on sides of clothes, all while keeping price reasonable. I do not like shopping, so I choose the first thing that looks ok and is comfortable - I am often left with unpleasant surprises when laundering. Some dryclean only, some handwash-only, some fine with washing but no dryer, some with dryer ok but tumble-dry only.
2. Do you have an in-unit washer? I do not - I traverse 7 flights of stairs to communal apartment laundry room.
3. Do you need to use quarters for the machine? If yes, this takes an extra trip to bank beforehand.
4. 7 flights of stairs again to transfer some of the clothes to a dryer, others ...
5. ... Need to be line-dried and hung, somewhere.
6. Finally, the clothes that could be normally washed must be folded and put away, not stuffed into a drawer (even simple t-shirts get wrinkled this way).
"washing" is not just pressing a button.
The thing thats terrible time sink is ironing
The fact that we dismiss this work mostly done by women by saying it's just pushing a button is probably sexism.
You buy detergent when you buy toilet paper, you throw your cloths into a hamper to not have to run around to gather them, and you hang them on a line in max 10 minutes. Ironing is something you don't need to do unless you want to buy cloths that require it.
Just because something might be done primarily by women it's not sexist to call it easy.
For us everyone is responsible to bring their clothes to the wash baskets and sort based on temperature.
Very few modern clothing require cool wash, and in my household we don't own any.
Very few white clothes and discoloration from washing whites with colors is so minimal with modern clothing/washing machines so we don't bother. The only exception is when cleaning white table cloths in order to remove stains.
Non-dryer clothes are avoided if possible.
We don't work at places which require ironed clothes.
Washing is thus for us: loading the machine (located in the apartment) with clothing from one of the two baskets when they are full, filling the detergent ball, selecting 40 or 60 depending on which basket is used, putting it in the dryer when the washer alarm goes off, taking it from the dryer when the dryer alarm goes off, and finally everyone collects their clean clothes. We could argue how common this is, and if there is a cultural difference here between US and Sweden, but I don't have any data beyond my own experience.
It takes a couple of hours a week, and usually falls to me since I work from home.
Saying some steps are "optional" requires compromises that probably a lot of people are unwilling to make; so not necessarily a meaningful way to call things optional.
Not going to comment what parents with children should do, at what ages and so on. That is just begging to get into a discussion where everyone just disagree with each other.
It's still work, isn't it? When it gets done is irrelevant.
My larger point is that your "it's not that hard" is only true in a very narrow set of circumstances that I'm skeptical exist even for you. Many problems seem simple if you constrain the variables tightly enough. But in the real world, not everyone dresses exclusively in clothes that don't wrinkle if left alone after drying, or work in jobs where looking like a hobo is acceptable. And anyone who claims that every family member including children automatically does their part in a complex series of steps without any goading at all is either deceiving themselves or trying to deceive others. The discipline is being enforced, and we don't all have the privilege of turning a blind eye while partners do it.
> work in jobs where looking like a hobo is acceptable
That is a bit offensive. Not everyone is a model and earn money depending on their appearance. There exist a quite large middle ground between hobo and model.
You're the only one who brought up models, so the dichotomy is yours.
> work in jobs where looking like a hobo is acceptable.
> or trying to deceive others.
looks like someone needs to work on their argumentation
I'm lazy, and as a result I select my clothing almost entirely with minimizing washing effort in mind. I tend to buy clothes that I don't need to sort out before washing, I buy most of my socks to be identical so I don't have to match them, I avoid clothes that require ironing to look even halfway presentable, and so forth.
Properly done, laziness can be an art form.
All that said, I do fold my clothes. For me, it's not that time-consuming or difficult.
I'm not complaining, 10-20 minutes per week is trivial, but it's also not just pressing a button.
Yes I do know how people used to wash clothes, and it would be a lot quicker if you missed out heating up the water on an open fire/range, and the mangling, and the hanging out of the clothes after. All features of wash day.
Maybe if you're doing a single person's laundry. Our family laundry is a job for more than a couple of hours.
This data doesn’t break the statistics down by family size, but it still comes out at 2h a week for woman. The data includes all individuals older than 15.
I suspect that the a average amount of time spend by families (particularly families with young children) would be much higher. Possibly up to an hour a day.
I would be interested in seeing statistics on this.
This is unclear to me but implies that “folding” includes all laundry activities except “time spent in the washer dryer” (otherwise why mention it). I guess if you fold and put away everything, this could be the case.
Get "no iron" clothes. Avoid tumble drying sheets and duvet covers (if you can) but don't dry them to crispy dry if you can't do that - instead let them be just dry and then fold them. Ignore wrinkles.
Who the hell does ironing these days? If you put it on the dryer properly, no ironing required. I work at the bank so formal dress 5 days a week, and the only requirement are self-ironing shirts (or whatever is the name). The rest can be achieved by drying/folding smartly. Unless of course you iron everything, including socks and underwear, then there is no help.
FTFY. And the business proposition isn't "limited", it's stupid. An attempt to throw technology somewhere it cannot compete.
The opportunity cost for that $16k is paying somebody minimum wage to fold clothes for you for over 2000 hours. That would last a family of four about 38 years (just folding). Cleaners, housekeepers, nannies, etc all offer this sort of service, and more. Cleaning, ironing, folding, putting away and because of the lack of skills, and the availability of people to do it, they usually can't charge that much for it.
This robot took up a ton of space, barely worked by all accounts, did untold damage to clothes that got caught, and didn't do any other part of the cycle. I don't know how you can call that a proposition. It's neat but it's not saleable.
In particular, paying someone to do something makes you subject to a lot of extra regulations, which exist mainly because there's plenty of evil people who like to abuse people they hire. Getting a robot to do something for you is free from all that baggage, and if you mistreat your robot, it's only your loss.
If you are the sort of lovely person who is bothered by others' working conditions and rights, a cleaner in your home is absolutely the best outcome. Not only do you get to pay above the odds —if you want to— you get to see them, you can talk to them and ask them how they're doing in life.
Conversely how do you suppose the teenagers who assembled your robot is being cared for? What about the miners extracting the rare earth metals used in batteries and motors? What about the villages around said mines that suffer horrific levels of pollution? And what about the dump where all this ends up in under 10 years time?
To the extent that it makes this person's work bearable, it worsens the situation. The company abusing the worker gets to earn that much more money and stay in business that much longer. If everyone did that, such companies would worsen their treatment even more (this is the same phenomenon that makes jobs desirable for non-economic reasons pay less; satisfaction gets deducted from your salary).
> Conversely how do you suppose the teenagers who assembled your robot is being cared for? What about the miners extracting the rare earth metals used in batteries and motors? What about the villages around said mines that suffer horrific levels of pollution? And what about the dump where all this ends up in under 10 years time?
The way to help those people isn't to buy more of their products, ensuring they have more work to do.
Because where I am, we do have worker protections, minimum wage, modern-day slavery rules that forbid indenture, maximum hours, health and safety regulations. The people in the factories and mines that make the robots have none of these.
My point above was that you are only ever able to detect abuse where you have contact. If you feel your cleaner is being abused (again, just talk to them) you have so many options for legally improving their situation.
That may mean the agency they worked for goes out of business under a hail of prosecutions, but there is a solid demand for cleaners (both self-employed and agency). Somebody else will step in and take on that work, and ultimately employ local people to do the same work.
> The way to help those people isn't to buy more of their products
Not sure if you got that the wrong way around but my point above was not to suggest that buying more robots is a good thing. If the quote above is what you meant, we agree.
People have to eat every day. To lose a job, even a miserable one, is not something I want to inflict on somebody, especially sitting in my armchair in my comfortable house on 80 acres in the heartland of America.
So where does that leave my ambitions to be ethical in my buying?
You pretty much have to vet any company you're contemplating doing business with anyway.
Yes -- priced properly, that would be a compelling product. But I'm guessing that's at least 20 years away.
Even at the most basic level, a vacuum cleaner... It wasn't until last year that there was a self-emptying model. It still insanely slow. It's suction is still objectively awful. It still gets blocked up by anything hairier than a large cat. It still can't get into certain places. But that's going to be $1000 and you're still going to have to set it up, fix is when it breaks, etc.
A $200 stick vacuum and 10 minutes/week cumulative contact is much better. That $800 saved could pay for somebody to do that vacuuming (and more!) for you for 100 hours. Really, tell me what's more "cost effective".
But yes, if we somehow get a magical level of robot that can transcend stairs on their own, carry 20KG of washing up and down, fold it all up, put it away... That would be worth $2k. But that's just a robotic unicorn at this juncture.
My robotic vacuum cost ~$500 three years ago, and I've probably spent another $75 on battery replacements/filters. So $575 for floors cleaned daily over the last 3 years and I'll probably get another few years out of it for another $75. Definitely beats paying someone to come out to my home every day to vacuum.
Remember we're only talking about folding here. I don't think we spend much more than an hour contact time doing the full cycle. But for folding, I allow 20 seconds an item, 180 items... With absolutely no checking, that seems right.
However you look at your personal situation, you have to generate a lot more load before you're not talking about a period of duration which would clearly outstrips the lifetime of the clothes-folding robot.
A clothes washing and folding robot is highly desired.
But for $20,000, if the robot can also wash the dishes (not a dishwasher), vacuum the floor (not a Roomba), and do some light dusting.. then I’d buy that in a heartbeat.
I do not want to pay for maid service. I don’t really want people in my personal space, so I’d rather do everything myself, which means they never get done.
Interesting. It seems obvious to me that self-driving is much harder. One reason that comes to mind is there is a lot more diversity in the environment while driving, and of the behavior of things you meet. Also, when a car gets confused it has more momentum, and is in traffic, so halting seems likely to be much harder.
The logic does not follow in these two sentences. I hang my clothes instead of folding, because I am lazy. If a machine with a reasonable cost could do the folding for me, I would buy it, since folded clothes occupy much less space.
Lets also remember that I really want a wardrobe that takes my dirty clothes and restocks itself with clean clothes.
Edit: Small business rates are a bit better as startups require a bit more than just some revenue but some growth metrics. VC-backed companies fail at a pretty high rate (75% fail to return). https://fitsmallbusiness.com/small-business-failure-rates/
A more useful question is whether he makes enough.
Growth-at-all-costs is toxic.
Long live usenet!
SV, please try harder at creating a washing assistant. I need it yesterday!
You could also extend the not-washing period if you buy more clothes. The more you have, the longer until you run out of clothes to wear.
A few time ago I realized, due to different materials or black ink, they degrade in different ways, so I have a few shades of black to choose from.
But still don't care :).
That way, you're obviously always wearing mismatched socks, and it becomes an obviously deliberate (if eccentric) fashion choice instead of a repeated sartorial goof-up.
Also, you get to wear socks that are more fun.
Socks didn't use to be a fashion statement but they sort of are now. Mixed socks. Because, y'know, I don't care. I just don't care. I'm just me.
LOL, so corny. I'm not sure anymore that I'll be able to pull of mixed socks.
Not to mention being more power and water efficient.
You have to be careful because some of them are a bit clumsy and will boil the clothing, or melt it in a too hot dryer.
 don't use fabric softeners.
Oh, and they do impart negative charge to the fabrics making them seem fluffier.
Some softeners do have protective oil or silicone or polysorbate that will coat the fabric protecting it more. (Similar mechanism to hair rinse.) This actually will protect the fabric from some wear. These chemicals cannot really be added to washing detergent as it would counter its action.
Certain silly people say the thin coat will interfere with future washing. I recommend testing instead of silly assumptions. (The layer is nonstick and waterproof which means your clothes will get less dirty and it is easier to remove anything on them... So you can use less detergent, time, force and water later. C.f. impregnated vs nonimpregnated wool.)
I thought they all had that. I really dislike fabric softeners in part because I dislike the perfume they use and in part because they tend to render everything some degree of waterproof (bad for towels, particularly).
Which is to say, my clothes do not get folded by anyone. No one folde them for me, nor do I fold them myself.
You don't have to fold most clothing. You can just toss it all in a basket and let it be. Most cotton wrinkles will disappear after being worn for about 20 minutes. Movement, body heat and ambient humidity removes wrinkles automatically from a lot of clothing. So, basically wrinkles from the drier usually don't last beyond most morning commutes.
And then, of course, there's not giving a single fuck about useless minutia, like... fucking wrinkled clothes.
This is the only reason I fold my laundry.
Industrial scale though ... but can AI really be cheaper than a skilled minimum wage professional? You know someone who has folded thousands of t-shirts and really gotten it down to an impressive speed.
Like this guy for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzivmWS6qak He folds a button-down shirt in 30 seconds. That's 120 shirts an hour ...
Would those "modern fabrics" be the ones using synthetic fibres that contribute thousands of plastic microparticles to the water each time they go through the wash?
> They found that acrylic was the worst offender, releasing nearly 730,000 tiny synthetic particles per wash, five times more than polyester-cotton blend fabric, and nearly 1.5 times as many as polyester.
People have no idea how many fibres are released per kg of clothing. It can be a surprising amount.
> From the results from the measurements, calculations were made to estimate the number of released microplastic particles. The release varied significantly between the different laundries. If the calculations were based on an assumed best-case scenario, between 5 000 and 4 550 000 of microplastic particles were released per kg of washed textile. If a worst-case scenario was assumed, between 15 000 and 5 375 000 microplastic particles were released per kg of washed textile.
I did not know they released microplastics.
Folding laundry just isn't that hard or time-consuming. The one situation where I could see such a machine being justifiable is if you have a lot of laundry to fold -- but the speed of the device would seem to rule it out as a solution for that use case.
balloon the clothes up to the stratosphere, then let them sink in a lake
Power is a different thing, you could connect it to whatever eco-friendly source you have.
"It’s sad news for everyone involved, but maybe we don’t need an expensive Wi-Fi-connected machine to do our simple chores for us. After all, now we have Marie Kondo to teach us how to fold fitted sheets."
But yeah, 8 million views already.
Surely there are narrower goals to go for first (eg retail), nail them and then expand into consumer (super wealthy luxury first and work down)
Retail would be much easier to make a case for this: it could be shared across a whole store, the items would be known and someone could configure it company wide. Pricing the savings would also be simpler than for consumers, who either have to want it for their own convenience or have this service offered by existing on-site competitors mentioned by others already (cleaners, housekeepers etc)
The vast majority of my clothing doesn't really need to be ironed (even if it's not specifically "wrinkle free"). That's one of the criteria I use when I select my clothes.
If you could just throw in a bunch of dirty clothes and let it do everything, that's a different story.
Similar to juicero (spelling), Amazon proposal to deliver packages inside your house....etc.
Wasn't this just to prevent assholes from stealing packages from your yard/door/...?
Amazon leaves it in plain sight on the driveway..... like guys no....
Also I live in an apartment and no porch/driveway, maybe that's why I dont lose packages :)
Huh? How is that supposed to help?
People aren't less likely to steal a package out of your car than out of your driveway.
They should have started by trying to replace that person. Make a $50,000 machine and sell it to businesses, then take what you learn doing that and make the home version.
The lever on "things mum did for me" is long.
I wouldn't mind the product, I still think the product fits that category.
Some males never do laundry their entire lives. Their mothers do it until they marry. Then their wives and daughters.
Almost everything is wrinkle-free, at least in my climate, if I hang it immediately out of the dryer. (I avoid clothes that need to air dry, given that I've been living in bedbug-prone old university neighborhoods with shared laundry machines.)
Socks get laid atop each other in a bin below (either the black pile or the white pile), and there's a second bin for other non-hangables for which wrinkling doesn't matter.
There's also no-iron dress shirts. I don't often need them lately, but I'm told Brooks Brothers has occasional great sales on good ones, if you do.
I don't use fabric softener, since there's research in the last few years suggesting that the VOCs are bad to be breathing.
Fabric softeners are also pretty bad for the clothing, and may contribute to excess microplastic shedding.
If you can afford to pay for it, OK, but you should know how.
Gender roles splits those so that only one gender is responsible for any given need. It might have been a useful optimization method in the past but not now in modern society.
Frankly the only thing that is slightly annoying in a boring sort of way is turning the shirts right side out.
It feels like the utopia our tech lords have is mind for us is one where we sit on the couch stuffing our faces 24/7 never having to leave the pod.
Do you have more hacks?
I can contribute, like you have, that in my household the balance is different. This doesn't refute the observation, though.
Some women don't either. First their fathers then their husbands.
Kind of sad to see 1950s stereotypes not downvoted here.