Samsung's SilverCare Washing Machine

Samsung Corporation plans this year to begin selling it's SilverCare Washing Machine, which generates silver ions to disinfect washwater and clothes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided that the machine does not need be registered as an antimicrobial pesticide product under Federal regulations, despite Samsung's intent to sell the product to control microbes by chemical means. Bypassing the opportunity to make puns about silver linings and tarnished images, we'll try to summerize the functions of this new design attribute.From press materials we learned that: "Samsung has developed and patented a technology, using a 99.9% sterling silver plate located inside the washing machine. Through electrolisation, 400 billion nano-sized silver ions are emitted, directly penetrating into fabrics during the wash and final rinse cycles, creating an amazing anti-bacterial and sterilisation effect on clothes".

'Silver Wash’s sterilisation effect allows you to purify items such as babys’ clothes, extra delicate blouses, shirts or even lingerie that can’t be washed with hot water...The anti-bacterial coating on your clothing inhibits the growth of germs for up to one month...With Silver Nano technology, the silver ions kill the bacteria. Without the bacteria, sweat can’t decompose to emit an unpleasant odour'.

So, is this genuine 'TreeHugger;' or is it just one more useless gimick to help a corporation gain market share? Depends if you do the laundry when your clothing is genuinely dirty or more frequently, out of concern that it may smell. Depends whether you wear deodorant...or not. Depends on whether your tap water is pure or contaminated with microorganisms. Depends on whether owning it convinces you to hang something back in the closet for another wearing rather than tossing it in the hamper. That's lot of "depends-on" behavioral factors to muddy the judgement.

One thing we're certain of is that the mining of silver ore, it's benefaction, and it's smelting to make metallic silver consume significant amounts of energy and water. Adding those into the equation would be the preferred way to make the case, setting human behavior aside: something Samsung seemingly has not not bothered to do.

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