Doing Laundry Just Got a Whole Lot Smarter and a Lot Cleaner


Doing laundry entails so much. From lugging the clothes to the machine (or worse, to the Laundromat!), to sorting, checking pockets for ink pens and loose change, to pouring in the big goopy laundry liquid. It’s enough to make you dream of living in the future where everyone seems to have the same uniform on day in and day out. Surely they must still do laundry too, though. But I bet it’s a lot easier.

In fact, doing laundry today just got a little futuristic with SmartKlean–the revolutionary Laundry Ball technology that eliminates the need for laundry detergent. They sent us a few to try out here at EcoSalon, and we were pretty impressed. I was particularly wowed at how they handled my most favorite delicate eco-clothes—from Reuse brand skinny jeans to my super light Stewart + Brown tops.

What’s so unique about SmartKlean is that it doesn’t use soap or detergents to clean clothes. How then do they get clean?

We were shocked to find out that laundry detergents don’t use soap either. According to SmartKlean, it’s a common misconception. Detergents use petrochemicals to help boost the water’s cleaning power. And even eco-friendly detergents can contain harsh chemicals. So, what if cleaning laundry could be done another way? SmartKlean uses the principles of bioelectricity and hydrodynamics to do the same thing—but without all the mess and waste of laundry detergent.


SmartKlean uses four types of ceramic beads and magnetic center in the Laundry Ball. Infrared balls radiate negative ions that help the water remove dirt. Alkali balls increase the pH levels to help lift dirt and oil. Antimicrobial balls contain nano-structured silver to kill and remove bacteria. Chlorine removal balls eliminate the chlorine compound in the water to protect the fabrics from oxidation. And magnets make the water molecule clusters smaller, increasing dissolved oxygen and eliminating odors.

And the outer shell also agitates clothes to make them cleaner. The plastic exterior of the laundry ball is composed of environmentally-friendly thermoplastic elastomer free of BPA and PVC. Its shape and weight are designed for agitation in order to beat dirt and grime off clothing during the wash cycle, somewhat similar to the old way of cleaning laundry before washing machines were invented!

I have to admit, we were a bit skeptical at my house, especially for delicate clothes and fabrics…some of which aren’t easily replaced, either. I know it’s probably a bit of an obsession, but I simply could not live without a certain pair of argyle socks and a super comfy pair of yoga pants. But SmartKlean says that this technology can actually extend the life of clothes and offer protection from damage detergents often cause. And wouldn’t you know it, all of our clothes came out completely clean. They even felt lighter and fluffier than with a normal detergent. They smelled fresh—and not in a detergent kind of way like the clothes were being scented. No, they actually smelled fresh. We also put the Laundry Ball to the ultimate test: dirty diapers (with a stain pretreatment). Clean as a baby’s bottom—you know, after.

And speaking of babies, SmartKlean’s Laundry Ball offers another advantage over detergents—no chemicals, no fragrances—and that means no risk for sensitive or allergy-prone skin. That’s a big plus for us. And while we used a non-chlorine bleach for the diapers, we used the SmartKlean non-toxic stain remover to get out some spit-up on a shirt. It worked wonders and with little effort on our part.


The Laundry Ball is also really economical. I was shocked to find out I could do a load of laundry every day of the year using the same SmartKlean ball. Did I mention I have a baby? We do laundry around here almost as often as we change those diapers. SmartKlean says the Laundry Ball will replace 20 to 40 laundry products in one year. And it will help reduce water use, too. Because there are no detergents to rinse off, you can completely eliminate the rinse cycle (if your machine offers that setting) when doing laundry, saving you money on water. You can also shorten your wash cycles as well, which also saves money. You can expect to save 2,400 to 8,000 gallons of water during the lifespan of the Laundry Ball. I didn’t even know I used that much to clean my clothes in the first place! And saving water in general is a really good thing for the planet these days, too.

I also really loved how gentle it was on all of our clothes. We don’t believe in fast fashion in this house, so we invest in high quality clothes that we hope will last a long time. Reducing the exposure to detergents (natural or otherwise) and eliminating the extra rinse cycle really adds life to garments. I have a hunch that fashion designers will start recommending SmartKlean Laundry Balls to extend the life of their clothes.

Some technologies can be hard to grasp. I imagine that just 50 years ago, being told we’d someday all be communicating through smart phones linked to an invisible web of information, there would have been plenty of skeptics out there—myself included. And the Laundry Ball concept feels a little similar to me. The only difference here is that I’ve tried it and I know it works. In that sense, it’s not only a miracle laundry product, it’s also kind of a time machine. So, in the future, whether or not we all wear the same uniforms day in and day out, you can bet we’ll be doing laundry a lot differently.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.