Meet the Solar Soaker

Let the sun do the washing for you

Group of washing ladies running dobies

Imagine having to do all your laundry by hand….

Doing laundry by hand is an arduous, time consuming and menial task that is mainly done by women. More than 85% of the world population (approx. 5 billion people) cannot afford a washing machine or have no access to power. Hence the majority of women and girls mainly in low and middle income countries  are still spending a significant part of their week (8 - 16 hours per week) on hand washing of clothes, mostly in cold water. This significantly limits their time and opportunities to engage in education, paid work, local politics or to explore other interests.

The washing revolution

The electric washing machine has historically impacted the position of women in high-income countries. It has changed how the activity has been perceived in terms of dignity, it has impacted the gender balance (more men do laundry now) and it has saved women a lot of time and effort, resulting in more women participating on the regular job market (empowerment, equality, education).

Access to innovation for all

Our vision is that women all over the world have access to our innovation; the Solar Soaker. This includes primarily those who cannot afford an automated washing machine, and those who do not have continuous access to a power source.

The auto-detergent

The enzymes in the auto-detergent are heat-activated and start separating dirt from laundry items once the water heats up. This process starts from approximately 25-30 degrees Celsius. Our pilots have shown temperatures reached between 35 and 55 degrees, depending on weather and soaking (heating) time. Even on overcast days, the device reaches high enough temperatures to be effective (35 degrees).

Clothes drying

The routine

Even though the Solar Soaker is not a ‘machine’, it saves users from hand wash efforts and involves a new way of washing. It requires users to prepare the Solar Soaker according to instructions (mix water and a small amount of auto-detergent, add laundry) and then leave it for 1-3 hours (depending on weather). Afterwards any remaining stains can be treated with the built-in rubbing board and laundry items need to be rinsed (once). For many women this requires a shift in washing behaviour. Our agents provide demonstration and training to create awareness and understanding of this new way of washing.

Solar Soaker presented in Kenya

The body

The Solar Soaker and foil are black in order to enhance this process and protect the clothing.

The lid

The Solar Soaker is not an electrical washing machine, so it doesn’t need power. The lid lets the radiation of the sun through but the heat can’t leave hence it warms up. This is similar to greenhouse processes.

Our mission

We believe that liberation from hand-washing of laundry will empower women, because they can then use their time and on other income-generating, self-developmental and more dignified activities.