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Half the Global Population Washes Clothes by Hand: Whirlpool Foundation, the Washing Machine Project Helping Address With Thousands of Manual Washing Machines

Wednesday, 17 April 2024 10:30 AM

Whirlpool Corporation

Global collaboration will help unlock millions of hours for women and girls to improve quality of life, saving time for learning and income-generating activities

NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / April 17, 2024 / The Washing Machine Project, a grassroots organization that provides off-grid manual washing machines to people in low-income and displaced communities, announced today it is collaborating with the Whirlpool Foundation to deliver thousands of manual washing machines to communities and households across the world over the next five years. The work is expected to impact an estimated 150,000 people and address a significant barrier to their advancement and quality of life. Recognized by The Washing Machine Project and the Whirlpool Foundation as the ‘Global Washing Divide,' this collaboration will focus on the estimated 60% of the world's population-or 5 billion people-that rely on washing clothes by hand¹.

In its first five years, the collaboration will help unlock approximately 17 million² hours for women and girls to improve quality of life and halve overall water usage, bringing efficient and sustainable washing solutions where they are needed most. According to the World Health Organization, 70% of households worldwide depend on women and girls for water collection and laundry, which is amplified by the estimate that up to 20 hours each week are spent hand washing clothes in underserved communities globally³. The collaboration will help save time and create opportunities for learning, income-generating activities and more time with family.

"We are honored to partner with the Whirlpool Foundation, whose legacy as a pioneer in home appliance innovation is only superseded by their passion to foster community development and improve life at home for people around the world," said Navjot Sawhney, founder and CEO of The Washing Machine Project. "This collaboration is a testament to what can be achieved when compassion meets technology. Together we are set to revolutionize laundry practices globally, paving the way for a more equitable and prosperous future for hundreds of thousands of people."

The collaboration is funded through the Whirlpool Foundation, with employee volunteers helping The Washing Machine Project refine the design and assemble the Divya Washing Machine, and The Washing Machine Project managing the distribution of the devices.

Divya Washing Machine Impact

At the initiative's core is the Divya Washing Machine, the world's first flat packable manual washing machine that allows users to wash their clothes without electricity or a connected water source. Its simple design reduces the need for prolonged physical effort usually required to hand wash clothes, replaced instead with a simple manual machine that can be used frequently and safely, saving the user up to 76% of the time compared to hand washing clothes³.

As a portable unit, built with commercial-grade components and stainless-steel construction, the machine is easier to be fixed remotely and has the potential to be recycled at the end of its life.

Divya, the namesake of the machine, is named after Navjot Sawhney's former neighbor, whom he became close friends with during a work assignment in India engineering cook stoves. He was struck by how much time Divya would spend doing back-breaking chores, including hand washing clothes for hours each week. At that time he made a promise to return to Divya with a manual washing machine and help make her life a little easier. In March 2024, in a joint trip with the Whirlpool Foundation, he did just that.

"We greatly admire the mission and work of The Washing Machine Project and see an opportunity to help impact more lives collectively than either of us could individually," said Pam Klyn, Whirlpool Corporation executive vice president, corporate relations and sustainability. "Driven by shared passion and purpose, Whirlpool Corporation employees are lending their time and talents to help make this long-term vision a reality, recognizing that this initiative goes beyond washing clothes. It is about reclaiming time and improving lives for these individuals who will now spend much less time doing laundry which opens the door to new opportunities."

In the first five years of its collaboration with Whirlpool Foundation, distribution is planned for underserved populations in rural and urban areas in India, Mexico, Brazil, the Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Uganda. Implementation will be tailored to meet the partnering regions' specific cultural, economic, and environmental conditions, ensuring the solution is effective and relevant in local contexts.

Since The Washing Machine Project was founded in 2019, the organization has conducted ethnographic research in 13 countries and interviewed more than 3,000 families in India, Uganda, Jamaica, Nepal and the Philippines to gain insight into their clothes washing tendencies. In addition to completing successful pilot studies, The Washing Machine Project has distributed Divya washing machines to families and communities in India, Iraq, Lebanon, the United States, Mexico, and Uganda. In 2024 The Washing Machine Project's plans to scale across numerous countries, partnering with organizations like the Whirlpool Corporation and international development and humanitarian organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Save The Children, Oxfam, Care International, and Plan International.

About Whirlpool Corporation
Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE: WHR) is a leading kitchen and laundry appliance company, in constant pursuit of improving life at home and inspiring generations with our brands. The company is driving meaningful innovation to meet the evolving needs of consumers through its iconic brand portfolio, including Whirlpool, KitchenAid, JennAir, Maytag, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, and InSinkErator. In 2023, the company reported approximately $19 billion in annual sales, 59,000 employees, and 55 manufacturing and technology research centers. Additional information about the company can be found at

About The Washing Machine Project
The Washing Machine Project is a grassroots social enterprise based in the U.K. aiming to alleviate the burden of hand washing clothes and empower women by providing remote, low income and displaced communities with an accessible, off-grid washing solution. The Divya Washing Machine - a manual, off-the-grid washer-dryer helps save up to 50% of water and 75% of the time compared to hand washing clothes.

¹The report estimates the resource consumption of roughly 590,000,000 washing machines in 38 countries with about 2.3 billion people, which is about one third of the world population." [1] According to various sources, including the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, only 2 billion people today have access to washing machines, while the remaining 5 billion individuals, particularly women, resort to hand washing clothes, a labor-intensive and time-consuming task involving fetching water, heating it, and manual washing. [2][3][4] Notably, Hans Rosling, a renowned data analyst, states that since the 1950s, washing machines have become ubiquitous for approximately 2 billion people worldwide. [5] Rosling also highlights that around 2 out of 7 billion people globally have access to washing machines, leaving approximately 5 billion individuals, or 71.4%, who still hand wash their clothes. [6] The global population rose to 6.9 billion in 2010, with nearly all of that growth occurring in the world's developing countries. [7] Utilizing the mathematical equation ((6.9 - 2.3) / 6.9) * 100 = 66.6%, we can approximate that around 60% of the world's population washes clothes by hand.
²Source: The Washing Machine Project
³Source: The Washing Machine Project

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Spokesperson: Whirlpool Corporation
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE: Whirlpool Corporation

Environmental, Social and Governance
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