A washing machine that uses only a cup of water to carry out a full wash, leaving clothes virtually dry, has been developed by British inventors.
Researchers say the technology, which uses less than 2 per cent of the water and energy of a conventional machine, could save billions of litres of water each year.
The machine, which has been created by academics at Leeds University, works by using thousands of plastic chips – each about half a centimetre in size – to absorb and remove dirt.
Around 44lb (20kilos) of the chips are added to each load, along with a cup of water and detergent.
During the washing cycle, the water is heated to help dissolve the dirt, which is then absorbed by the plastic chips.
The makers say the chips should be removed at the end of each wash, but can be used up to 100 times – the equivalent of six months washing.
The technology, dubbed Xeros, is already being compared to the Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner, which revolutionised the home cleaning industry when it was first released in the mid-1990s.
If adopted by many homes across the UK, the machine could save billions of litres of water each year.
Although the Xeros is currently in the design and testing stage, the inventors say they are in talks with a commercial partner.
The machine could be on the market as early as next year, they added.
Professor Stephen Burkinshaw, the machine’s inventor, said tests have produced ‘quite astonishing’ results.
‘We’ve shown that it can remove all sorts of everyday stains including coffee and lipstick whilst using a tiny fraction of the water used by conventional washing machines,’ he added.
The team also said the technology could be useful to high street dry cleaning firms as it will get rid of the need to use potentially harmful solvents, some of which have been linked to cancer.