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How To Get Clothes Fresh and Clean--Without Using Laundry Detergent

The latest arrival at The Future Perfect--the New York-based store that specializes in cool, high-end, super-designy housewares--is pretty idiosyncratic considering the rest of their inventory. And yet it's completely awesome: It's a rubbery, kelly green, space-age ball that's meant to banish (or at least severely curtail) your need for laundry detergent forever after.

Here's the deal: The product, which looks like some kind of alien showerhead, is called Ecowasbal, and it's made of recyclable, environmentally friendly plastic. It's filled with teeny ceramic beads--and here's the part where it gets really sci-fi--that create some special kind of ions when they come into contact with water. The ions reduce the surface tension in the water, which in turn activates the water molecules, which then work to release any dirt that's stuck to your clothing fibers. So, for lightly soiled loads, the Ecowasbal is all you need. For clothes that need a deeper clean, you'll still want to use a little detergent, but only about a spoonful.

I still don't get the science behind it, but the point is that you end up with soft, clean clothes without stretching or dulling the fabrics. It's totally soap- and chemical-free (which is not only good news from an eco standpoint, but is also a bonus for allergy sufferers and those with sensitive skin), and you can use it for 1,000 loads of laundry--which comes out to about four years' worth of washings, making its $37.95 price a total steal from a cost-per-use perspective. It's already a hit in Europe, and The Future Perfect is apparently the only place to get one in the States--order one of your own by clickinghere.

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