Looking a little like a cross between a salad spinner and a rice cooker, this tiny appliance is actually a washing machine. Unlike the standard-size models, it never needs to be plugged in: Instead, it’s human-powered.
After you stick the Yirego in your shower, fill it with water, detergent, and a handful of clothes, it runs on a foot pump.
It’s designed for city dwellers who are sick of spending hours at a laundromat or forking over $20 to have someone else wash your dirty socks and underwear. It’s also cleaner than using a shared machine.
“While I was living in my Toronto apartment, a man threw in a pair of muddy construction boots straight into the washing machine next to me while I was doing laundry in my building’s laundry facilities,” says Yi Jiang, Yirego’s founder. “After that happened, I decided I had to improve the laundry process in urban areas.”
The gadget can’t replace every trip to the laundry–partly because it can only hold five to seven pieces of clothing at a time. Still, it’s a way to make trips less frequent. And while portable laundry machines aren’t new, it has the advantage of not needing a water hookup to work.
Since it’s pedal-powered, it also saves energy. “While the Drumi is not intended to entirely replace a washing machine, it was made to reduce the use of a regular-sized washing machine,” Jiang says. “On average, a full-size washing machine will release around 10 pounds of carbon emissions per week. The Drumi reduces these emissions, and actually reduces the user’s carbon footprint by around 5 to 10 pounds weekly–and zero electricity required.”
The washer is also designed for campers, and though the company is only taking preorders in North America right now, they think there could also be a market in developing countries, and plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign later this year that will also be available internationally. “We’ve received inquiries from every continent,” Savage says. “The Drumi is very popular in countries where water and power is scarce.”