Laundry tales will all come out in the wash for Loughborough University student
Travelling the world asking people how they wash their dirty laundry might seem like a strange task for a PhD student – but that is exactly what Jak Spencer is about to do.
The 25-year-old will be flying to India and Brazil in the summer to find out how people from different cultures go about the simple household chore.
He will observe how often clothes are washed, the temperature they are washed at and the length of time they are washed for.
Loughborough University student Jak hopes his research will help create the next generation of ecological washing machines.
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He said: "There aren't many studies of this kind. It could really help with designing washing machines in the future and who knows what else?"
He said previous research showed that, despite having similar products, people living in different parts of the world used them in different ways.
He said: "In Brazil, for instance, it's very rare that people would use hot water to wash their clothes in a washing machine, despite having the same settings as washing machines over here.
"That obviously has an impact on the environment, with less energy being used to heat water."
Jak, who is studying industrial design, said that as laundry is one of the most widespread household chores, it was an ideal study for his doctorate.
Before he sets off next month, he is looking to recruit 10 local volunteers who are not too shy to show him their smalls.
He plans to interview and observe each volunteer prior to his trip to India in June and Brazil in August. He will compare and contrast the results from Leicester volunteers with those from abroad.
"It may seem quite trivial, but if we really want to make a difference to the environment then it's important we know what influences people in their everyday household activities so that this can be considered when it comes to design," he said.
Dr Vicky Lofthouse, a senior lecturer at the university's design school, said: "We're delighted to be supporting Jak's work."
Jak is funding part of the cost of the research trip himself, helped by grant funding from the Design Research Society, which supports design research worldwide.
His stay is also being supported by universities in the two countries.
Professor Peter Lloyd, membership secretary for the Design Research Society, said: "Jak's research proposal was very impressive."
If you are free this month and would like to volunteer to be part of Jak's study, contact him on 07958 594260.