Shortly after Thanksgiving, Swedish company Electrolux announced they were toying with the idea of an “Uber for laundry” type service. The premise would be for people without a washer and dryer to pay for laundry time from someone who owns the appliances.
Electrolux is a home appliance company looking to expand beyond just making the hardware. They have an oven that takes a photo of the food inside to send to the user’s smartphone so you know when your dinner is ready without having to check it. They’re looking to introduce new technology into their washers and dryers, then potentially give those advances to everyone through laundry sharing.
The new laundry service could be potentially huge news for the 65 percent of Americans who own a washer and dryer but live below the poverty line. Who doesn’t want an easy way to make a little extra money. However, the idea turned out to have many potential challenges. What if the clothes shrunk or were damaged? What if all the left socks went missing?
Other companies have tried to utilize a similar concept. Washio was a company that launched in 2013 which advertised itself as an on-demand laundry service. It shut down operations in August. Prim was another service that picked up, washed, dried, folded, and delivered your clothing for $25 a bag. They only lasted about seven months. There are still several services still in operation like FlyCleaners and Wash Cycle so there would be a lot of competition for a new startup.
In a Financial Time interview, CEO Jonas Samuelson alluded to the idea that Electrolux was developing an Uber for Laundry. When the Daily Mail covered the interview, its headline read: “Electrolux developing ‘smart’ washing machines that will enable neighbours to rent them out.”
However, the Head of Media Relations, Daniel Frykholm, was quick to deny that Electrolux had a product or idea for this sort of service in the works. He stated that the idea of an example of a concept that the company was considering, but not necessarily a promise for a future product or service.