Idaho hotel owner is betting on a water-saving laundry machine that uses polymer beads

Water Saving Laundry Washers Hit Big in Idaho

Jerame Petry happened upon an article in Lodging Magazine that caught his attention. As the owner of three hotels in western Idaho, Petry often looks for ways to save money and increase profits. The article he read described a new type of commercial washing machine; one that uses nylon polymer beads and very little water and electricity. Jerame estimated he would be able to lower his water usage by 1.3 million gallons of water per year at his three hotels. He took a risk and leased three machines immediately.

The technology that drives these washing machines was discovered nearly 10 years ago at the University of Leeds School of Textiles in the U.K. Scientists realized these tiny nylon beads were incredibly effective at absorbing dirt and stains from clothes when mixed with a little bit of water and a different type of detergent.

The Xeros Corporation was the first company to incorporate this technology and bring their washers to market. They debuted in the U.S. at a trade show in New York, where potential customers (many of them hotel owners) were fascinated and a little bit skeptical at first. The potential savings, as well as the environmental impact, was too attractive to pass up.

The machines use thousands and thousands of beads to clean clothes. The washers utilize the nylon polymer beads with a tiny bit of water and a special detergent. The nylon beads act as sponges, soaking up dirt and debris. After the cycle is finished, the beads are removed from the washer and can be reused – up to 1,000 loads. The service fees and replacement beads run each user around $600 per machine per month.

By the time Petry read about this technology, the machines were already up and running in some areas of the U.S. The machines were effective and the savings were palpable. The reduction in carbon footprint for these machines was incredible.

The Xeros salesmen were claiming savings of:

  • 50% less energy
  • 50% less detergent
  • 80% less water

However, users of these machines were astounded to realize the actual water savings is closer to 90%. These machines clean more efficiently than regular commercial washers. And the beads are much gentler on clothes and linens. Some equate these gentle commercial washers to hand washing. A gentler wash for hotel linens mean a longer life and less replacement costs.

While Petry was the first to lease machines in Idaho, Xeros had already clients using these machines in California, Washington and Oregon. With a constant battle against drought, one California hotel operator leased three machines from Xeros. His estimated water savings after only one quarter was about 4 million gallons of water – or roughly the size of 6 Olympic swimming pools.

Petry is no stranger to taking risks on new technology. He conducted a lot of research on these machines and Xeros. When he realized how great the environmental benefits could be, his decision was made.

In all three of his hotels, Petry estimates his machines wash 580,000 pounds of laundry combined each year. Financial and environmental impacts aside, Petry also found that these washers cleaned more efficiently than traditional washers, allowing his housekeeping staff to wash more linens in a shorter amount of time.

The Hotel & Hospitality Industry is responsible for 15% of all commercial water use in the U.S. Not only is Petry saving money for his business, he’s also helping the environment. Whereas traditional hotels may save water usage by asking their customers to reuse towels and linens, Petry is going the extra mile with these washers.

It is very rare for innovative technology like this to come to the hotel industry. The potential impact and savings are huge. Jerame Petry hopes more hotels will follow in his footsteps.