In the midst of widespread drought across the world, putting your clothes in the wash can inspire a lot of guilt. Older washing machines can use up to 40 gallons of water per full load, and even new, efficient washers use somewhere in the range of 13 gallons. A company called Xeros has figured out a way to dramatically reduce the amount of water wasted in the never-ending battle against dirty laundry. Its machine uses plastic beads to decrease water usage by as much as 80 percent. 

The beads mix with the laundry in the washer, absorbing and massaging out stains from clothes, reducing the need for detergent as well as water. When the wash cycle is done, the beads drop to the bottom of the machine and are funneled through special openings in the drum so that they can be used again. A supply of recyclable beads lasts 500 to 1000 washes. 

It’s only available for commercial use right now (at laundromats and the like) but one day it will make the perfect eco-pair for that ultrasonic clothes dryer

[h/t: Smithsonian