We finally get a chance to test this portable laundromat and see just how clean it can make your clothes.
I first came across Nival being sold on a popular Japanese website under the name “Washable” promising to make any container of water into a veritable washing machine, perfect for travelers, campers, or even busy parents of newborns. After writing about this product I received a lot of feedback from curious but skeptical readers wondering if it could really do as it said.
Luckily, I was contacted by the makers at Original Thinking and crowdtesting website Xberts in order to test a revamped version called Nival. Now, it will be my pleasure to not only see if it works but to push Nival to its limits even comparing it with a proper washing machine.
Luckily, just as my Nival arrived in the mail, I had been caught outside during a typhoon and earned a drenched, musty T-shirt in need of washing as a result. However, stuck in my office I had to get creative with the limited materials on hand.
I grabbed a watertight wastebasket, bottle of dish soap, and Nival and got down to business. First I filled the wastebasket with water and soaked the T-shirt inside. At about that time I also noticed some handmade wool coasters lying around that were worn down but too delicate to throw in a washing machine, so I tossed them in as well.
Next, I loaded the Nival with the dish soap. This part was a little tricky as I didn’t know how much was appropriate. Also, the Nival has holes in the bottom where the soap can easily leak out, so make sure you hold it upside down and don’t put too much in. Nival says they will also sell their own “Laundry Disinfection Effervescent tablets” that would certainly be easier to use.
The USB cord was handy at about 190 centimeters (75 inches) long and it could reach an outlet with the help of a smartphone charging adapter. However, I could also just run it off the front panel of my desktop PC’s USB port. There was a closer USB on a nearby printer, but the voltage was too low to run Nival (it’s usually enough to power small fans).
Once the juice was turned on I just tossed it into the garbage pail and let Nival do its thing for the next forty minutes.
When it was time to open the can I hung up the coasters and T-shirt to dry, cleverly disguised as a piece of modern art.
The T-shirt looked fine and the coasters were in very good condition without any of the wear that might have occurred in a washer. There was still a little discoloration on them, but everything had a fresh smell and felt soft and clean. This is a very important thing to know when considering Nival.
Unfortunately, technology has not perfected transmissions of smells and fabric textures so these images probably don’t do Nival justice so let’s try something more visual.
Next I took a white cloth and soaked it in black coffee with a touch of ketchup, angering my wife greatly in the process. I repeated the same process only using a simple plastic bowl rather than a wastebasket.
I noticed this time that the sound produced by Nival varies greatly depending on the surfaces used. The plastic wastebasket on a glass table on a carpeted floor had been a little noisy but not terribly disturbing. However, a plastic bowl on a wooden table on a tatami (Japanese straw mat) floor created an unusually loud and echoing rumbling sound. Also, the vibration was causing the bowl to actually move around the table, nearly falling off a couple times.
Luckily, that was easily remedied by simply slipping a rubber mat underneath the bowl. Doing that cut almost all of the noise and stopped the bowl in its tracks. However, this being said, even with the noise at its worst, my three-year-old daughter was taking a nap in the next room and didn’t flinch at the sound even in the slightest.
As for the results, as you can see the stains of the coffee and ketchup weren’t completely removed, but there was some considerable improvement. Also, aside from the appearance, the cloth was indeed clean. It was soft to the touch and smelled as fresh as if it had never been doused with coffee.
Now, you should be getting the sense that Nival can certainly clean fabrics in a variety of ways, and while it doesn’t bust stains easily by itself, it gets everything smelling and feeling fresh. But for the record, let’s try one more time only now pitting Nival against a full washing machine.
This time, adhering to the rule that its easier to ask forgiveness than permission, I secretly took two of my wife’s cloths and stained them with various foods used in my breakfast: bacon grease, coffee, cola, ketchup, soy sauce, and tonkatsu sauce (a type of barbecue sauce with a pungent odor).
I placed one in a washing machine and ran a typical cycle with detergent. The other I put in the plastic bowl and washed with Nival. This time rather than dish soap, I used the same detergent and amount as was put in the washing machine.
And here are the results.
Of course, the washing machine got more of the stains out but Nival did a fair job for a fraction of the price (approx. US$89). Again, I think the pictures alone don’t do justice to how clean those towels actually are. In both cases despite the staining, there was absolutely no remnants of the foods whatsoever. The towels smelled and felt as clean as the day they were bought.
And yet my wife still won’t let me back in the house.
But that’s okay because, from my tests I’m confident this device can keep my clothes fresh whether in the office, camping, or living out of my car for the next few days. Thanks Nival!
*Note: Nival is not officially released yet and this test was done with a prototype version. For its availability you may want to watch their Facebook page or they will soon be available to order from Xberts.
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