SpinCycle – University student invents pedal-powered washing machine

SpinCycle is a pedal-powered washing machine, invented by Richard Hewitt

In the world of fully-automatic washing machines, the SpinCycle may not be the ideal way of getting your laundry done. But Richard Hewitt, a former product design student at Sheffield Hallam University, is hoping that his pedal-powered washing machine may just be the perfect product for people in developing countries.

You load the device with clothes, detergent and water, and then fit it onto the back of a tricycle. Then pedal for ten minutes. The next step is to drain and fill with rinse water before another ten-minute pedalling session to complete the wash. The same method can also be used to spin dry the clothes once they are clean.

Richard was inspired to build the SpinCycle after visiting a children’s orphanage in Burundi, Africa. One of his tasks at the orphanage was to wash around 30 loads of children’s clothes by hand. That was extremely time consuming and Richard thought that there must be an easier way.

Having noticed that people around there used bikes a lot, Richard came up with the idea of SpinCycle – something that could become a micro-enterprise for people. ‘As well as saving a lot of time, energy and water, people might also be able to make a little bit of money this way’, he explained. He mentioned that he had considered several other ways of making it work efficiently. ‘I looked at making it into a trailer for a bicycle but it made more sense to make it a complete unit,’ he said.

‘By removing the aesthetic aspects the design could easily be simplified and made cheaper.’

The design was exhibited as part of Sheffield Hallam’s ‘CreativeSpark’ exhibition. It also won the Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award for January 2012. SpinCycle plans to set up a factory to manufacture the product in Africa and distribute it through a range of charities and NGOs to reach communities that do not have access to electricity, giving them an alternative method of washing clothes.