The product is being developed in partnership with a major consumer goods brand and the moves come after a second raise of £1.4million seed funding for the business that was launched in 2018 by Dr Kyle Grant, a former Nasa engineer. A temple to cold water and space age science, Oxford-based Oxwash employs a combination of ozone technology to disinfect fabrics at lower temperatures and a local, smaller quantity collection and delivery model.
Electric cargo bikes supply the transport needed and a 30-minute return window is proving popular with customers.
These range from small businesses and household clients, some with allergic reaction problems, to hotels and short lets.
More recently as the market focus intensifies on hygiene, Oxwash has now linked up with the NHS and science labs working on Covid-19 vaccine trials enabling PPE to be sanitised safely and reused.
Items are cleaned in Oxwash lagoons as it calls its processing hubs, where conventional commercial machines have been modified to work with the new technology.
The company expects a £250,000 turnover this year, and since May growth has been 20 per cent month on month
“The target is zero net emissions and reliability for the whole, fully integrated laundry process with a perfect finish,” says Grant, 29, who embarked on his disruptive mission with just a backpack, a bike and working out of a shipping container.
Today the company is sprinkled with investor stardust and includes Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Indeed.com co-founder Paul Forster, and VCs Trusight Global, Force Over Mass and Founders Factory among its angel and venture capital backers.
Washing, through its energy, water consumption, harsh chemicals and microplastic fibre waste draining into the world’s oceans, extracts a heavy toll on the planet.
“The biggest challenge for the industry has been the removal of stains and micro organisms in cold water,” Grant explains. “Our technology using ozone generation – taken from oxygen in the atmosphere, silver nanoparticles and ultra violet sterilisation achieves medical grade washing at tap water temperatures.
“Heat is reduced to 20°C rather than 40°C and our energy is from 28kW solar arrays on each lagoon enabling us to become a net producer too.
“Our effective use of ozone means it degrades back into oxygen so is inert and safe and our lagoons are also robustly protected with safety sensors.”
Oxwash says it is getting savings of 25.5 litres of water from every wash, saving 174 kilos per tonne of CO2 emissions and new filtration systems are collecting 100 million damaging fibres and plastic particles a day.
These are now heading for recycling into goods such as bedding as well as enabling more water reuse.
“Covid speeded up our plans to enter the healthcare market and we have introduced contactless delivery for customers using dissolvable bags that we supply,” adds Grant who also intends to increase the workforce from 15 to 35, with every job a staff appointment.
More than 4,000 customers now use Oxwash which plans to extend its Cambridge, Oxford and London lagoons to other UK cities and internationally to the US and Europe, potentially developing a franchise model.
Laundry has many facets but not all Oxwash’s smart ideas are in one bag, as Grant is also thinking about other cleaning applications for the technology such as washing bottles.
A dishwasher with Oxwash’s name on it might not so far off either.