Skip the Detergent, and Wash Your Clothes With These Souped-Up Balls Instead

Crystal Wash 2.0 promises to get your pants and shirts clean without any added soap.

(Photo: YouTube)

Feb 27, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Sure, the top brands of laundry detergent will get your clothing squeaky clean, but the environmental impact is pretty dirty—plenty of chemicals go down the drain with the sudsy water flowing out of your washer. You could switch to some of the greener soap alternatives on the market, or maybe you can get rid of detergent altogether and toss a couple of plastic balls into your washing machine.

That’s the promise of Crystal Wash 2.0, a $50 spherical device that claims to be able to clean 1,000 loads of laundry without a drop of Tide, Gain, or other soap.

According to the project’s Kickstarter, the two balls contain tiny bioceramic beads that elevate the pH level of the water inside your washer above 8.5, which “shrinks the water molecule clusters to a size that allows dirts or soils to be soaked free naturally." These mineral beads also generate disinfecting, bacteria-killing hydrogen peroxide. If you’re really into the nuts and bolts of your laundry, as you can see in the video below, the device also sends updates to your smartphone throughout the cleansing process.

Instead of dropping $10 on a jug of detergent every month or so, purchase Crystal Wash 2.0 and the only maintenance that’s required is to stick the spheres out in the sun for a few hours every 30 washes. In case you’re not tracking how many loads of laundry you’ve done, the ball will helpfully send a reminder to your smartphone when it’s time for a recharge of the device.

While the spheres seem like they could be an environmental boon, there is some skepticism out there about whether Crystal Wash 2.0 works. The comment section of the device’s Kickstarter is full of debate over the science behind it.

One commenter, Julia Gosztyla Ziobro, pointed out that if you simply toss two plastic drier balls into your washer, you can probably get the same results. Unless you’re a toddler smearing ketchup on your pants and rolling around in the mud, “water actually washes clothes pretty well all by itself,” wrote Ziobro. She also points out that “the friction caused by the bumpy balls helps pound the dirt out (kind of like our foremothers beating/scrubbing clothes on a rock in the river or a washboard next to the manual washing machine).” And don’t forget, wrote Ziobro, your clothes probably still have some residual detergent on them, which will initially make it seem like Crystal Wash 2.0 works.

That said, consumers seem to be interested in a gizmo that will remove stains and odors from clothing without all the dyes, chemicals, and perfuming agents found in traditional laundry detergent. Last year a nearly waterless laundry ball created by a Colombian design student was a finalist in Electrolux’s Design Lab competition. As for Crystal Wash 2.0, as of this writing, the creators have smashed their $100,000 Kickstarter goal, raising more than $176,000, and they still have two weeks left to rack up funding.