Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bye-Bye, Boring Laundry

I've recently written an article on new hi-tech machines out there that help make the laundry easier. I know, I know, it's not like the laundry is all that hard. What trips me up about it is the fact that it's a two-stage process. Since most washers I've seen don't come with buzzers, I often forget to come back and put the load in the dryer. The machines I discussed in the article either combined the process into one step, or have notifications sent out to your cell phone or TV to let you know to come back. A lot of people have commented that the notification system is lame, but I have seen everyone I know forget a load in the wash at least once.


The article is up on digg.com and shoutwire.com, so feel free to give it props...

Here are some of the comments I've gotten on my article:

"Really, text massages to your cell? That seams real dumb, and its not like doing laundry is hard. And i kinda like doing laundry, you can watch and its real relaxing. "

"What I want to know is why do most dryers buzz but not washers? That seems totally backwards to me.

Ideally, I want to be notified when the washer is done - not just to save time, but also to remind me my job isn't over yet. So many times I've left wash sit there for days because I forgot to flip it. I'd also like to disable my dryer buzzer as there's no need for the bastard to go off in the middle of the night after I've set it and went to bed.

Also, laundry sucks because of the *folding* - not the washing/drying phases, or even the sorting."

"Author of this story:
"I've often wished for a laundry machine that either let me know when a load is done"...
* * * * * BUUZZZZZZ * * * * *
..."Holy Sh@t! WTF was that??!" [Smartass...to hear the buzzer requires that you actually be in the vicinity. For those of us who don't own homes and don't like to stay glued to the laundromat, it may not be so easy to hear the buzzer if we're elsewhere.]

Here was the most illuminating comment about why Americans don't really have the already washer/dryer in one combo:

"TMCDIGG wrote:

"But seriously, why do we need "TWO BIG BOXES" to wash and dry clothes? You'd think by now someone would make a product that could do BOTH functions in ONE machine, no?...why can't there be just ONE BOX to wash, and dry.. then you just take it out when done.. do we really need to crowd floor space with two machines? Sure, its inefficient for wet cold clothes to then be heated and dried in the same machine but where there is a WILL (AND MARKET DEMAND) there is a way."

I work for an appliance manufacturer, and many years ago we did offer washer/dryer combos for reasons of space-saving (and still do, in Europe). Trust me when I tell you, they are remarkably inefficient, because of the need to drain out all of the water from the washer before drying and the extra energy required to dry wet, cold clothes. People say they want these washer/dryer combos until they hear it will take them upwards of four hours to wash and dry _one load_ of clothes.

If there's one piece of feedback we consistently get from consumers about laundry, it's that they want to reduce the amount of time needed to wash/dryer clothes, not increase it. That's why washer/dryer pairs continue to dominate the market in the US. We've got the space to accomodate them, and we don't want to spend the entire weekend washing clothes. In places where space is an issue (urban areas of Europe or Japan) they have the washer/dryer combos because they have no choice--they can't spare the space, so they have to put up with long wash/dry times.

There won't be a market demand for washer/dryer combos in the US unless (a) we suddenly become hyper-crowded, or (b) the laws of physics undergo some pretty significant changes and it's possible to wash/dry a load in the same amount of time that a washer/dryer pair will."