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A cheap, human-powered washing machine for the developing world

1st September 2012

GiraDora is a human-powered washer and spin dryer that boosts the efficiency and improves the experience of hand-washing clothes in the developing world.



A pair of design students from Los Angeles - Alex Cabunoc and Ji A You - worked with a South American NGO and the Safe Agua Peru project. Their field research took them to Cerro Verde, a huge slum perched on the hillsides surrounding Lima, where they talked with local people who earn just $4-10 per day. Based on their feedback, they developed the GiraDora. The user sits on top of this drum-like appliance and pumps a pedal with their foot, which agitates, cleans, rinses and then spin-dries clothes. The project offers the following benefits:

Health: Upright, ergonomic operation reduces chronic back pain and removes hands from painfully cold water. It eliminates the risk of tenosynovitis from wringing clothes together with asthma from mouldy fabric (which can take up to 3 weeks to dry in winter).

Productivity and time savings: Reduces the time to wash a load of laundry from 1 hour by hand to 3-5 minutes.

Water savings and ecological benefit: Uses 1/3 less water than hand-washing and facilitates re-use of water.

Profitable: Innovative business plan offers micro-entrepreneurs three revenue streams to supplement income — laundry services, renting and sales.

For less than $40, GiraDora offers a far more comfortable, ergonomic and efficient way to clean clothes, improves the health of women and children, and provides opportunities for breaking the poverty cycle. Time which might otherwise have been spent hand-washing clothes can be used for other activities that might generate income.

GiraDora has already won numerous awards. This week, it was selected as a finalist in the James Dyson Award, in which 50 of the most innovative projects will be chosen from around the world. Its creators hope to launch a pilot program next year and introduce it to other countries as well, such as India. People who live off-grid in the first world may want to try it as well.


© Alex Cabunoc & Ji A You


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