In Peru, a $40 washer-dryer powered by your foot

Compared with traditional hand-washing, the GiraDora doubles productivity, reduces back pain, and prevents clothes from getting moldy.
Written by Janet Fang, Contributor on

Using the principles behind a salad spinner, the GiraDora makes cleaning and drying clothes less back-breaking and time-consuming for millions of people in poverty, Fast Company reports.

When Art Center College of Design students Alex Cabunoc and Ji A You spent two weeks in Cerro Verde -- a 30,000-person slum outside Lima, Peru -- they realized that washing clothes was a huge task. It could take several hours just to find and transport water, followed by six hours of hand washing. And the wet clothes, which could take three weeks to dry, often get moldy before drying.

So they designed the GiraDora (pictured), a bucket that conceals a spinning mechanism that washes clothes and then partially dries them. It’s operated by a foot pedal, with the user sitting on the lid to stabilize the rapidly churning contents.

The portable combination washer/dryer prototype was recently field tested in Peru and Chile.

  • The device more than doubles productivity, freeing up time, and uses far less water than hand washing.
  • The spin dryer helps eliminate tenosynovitis from wringing clothes.
  • Sitting on top helps alleviate back pain associated with squatting and bending over.
  • It also reduces joint problems, skin irritation, and mold inhalation.
  • Since it’s portable, it can be placed near the water source.
  • At about $40, the GiraDora could be used by people who earn as little as $4 a day.
  • And, it could also help generate income with laundry services, rentals, and sales.

Watch a short video about the contraption, and documentary about the trip, Hands in the Mist.

They’ve won at Dwell, Core77, Dell Social Innovation Challenge, and the International Design Excellence Awards. Working with a $19,500 NCIIA-E Team grant, the team is improving GiraDora’s cleaning power (through a new gearing system) and working toward implementation in Latin America.

[Fast Company]

Images: GiraDora / Design Matters

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards