Washing clothes is a huge drain on freshwater resources. According to the EPA, the average washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load and is the second largest water user in your home, and the average American family washing almost 400 loads of laundry each year. The problem is particularly acute in regions of the world where water is scarce, and getting scarcer with population growth and urban migration, as well as more frequent droughts. High-efficiency front-loaders do better than the old top-loaders, but they still use a lot of water and detergent. What if there was a way to take a leap forward and reduce water use by an order of magnitude?
Saving water, energy, detergent... Sounds good, but there are a bunch of "IFs".
If the beads are safe, really useable hundreds of times, and there's a good way to send them back so they are either washed and made useable again, or recycled into new ones, and if the machine is built cleverly enough that you aren't constantly spilling beads all around your house, and if the cost isn't exorbitant, then this sounds like a good idea. Especially in areas of the world where water is extremely scarce and washing clothes should take a backseat to other more vital uses.
There's a couple of commercial case studies:
But residential use might be harder to crack.
More info can be found on XerosCleaning.com.