Could we get our clothes clean with only a tiny fraction of the water and washing powder consumed by a typical wash?
That's what a team of researchers claims it has proved.
Xeros is a company formed by a team of boffins from Leeds University, who have developed a washing machine which replaces nearly all of the water and some of the detergent with millions of polymer beads inside the drum.
These beads, when added to by a fraction of the amount of water and washing powder used in a conventional wash, have been found to clean clothes as well as in a standard machine during tests.
The team claims that water usage is cut by as much as 90 per cent, while their machine also uses much less electricity than current models, and the beads which provide the cleaning power can be used for up to 1,000 washes.
Tests are currently under way in a handful of commercial laundries in the UK, America and Poland, and the company hopes the first production models will be on sale in America next year.