A Handheld Clothes Cleaner You Can Use Without Getting Undressed Is the Perfect Trapped-at-Home Gadget

Few of us are willing to admit how infrequently we’ve changed out of our pajamas over the past year while sequestered at home. Bosch isn’t here to judge and has instead come up with the perfect trapped-at-home gadget: a handheld detergent-free device that can remove odors from clothes while you’re still wearing them.

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The Bosch FreshUp looks like a glowing case for a pair of sunglasses, but it’s actually a battery-powered portable device that uses room temperature plasma (a gas with some of its molecules or atoms missing electrons) to break down the molecules responsible for the smell of dirty clothing. Like a lint brush it can be dragged across a garment (whether it’s on a hanger or actually being worn) without causing damage and without leaving it wet or damp so it’s immediately ready to be worn. Bosch estimates it takes about 30 seconds to clean a problematic area (armpits, etc.) and about two minutes to clean an entire shirt.

The treated garment isn’t left completely clean. You can slide it back and forth across a chocolate stain and that stain isn’t going anywhere, but it can make dirt that’s invisible to the naked eye also invisible to the human nose. The FreshUp isn’t designed to replace a washer, dryer, or your local dry cleaner, but it can extend the life of a garment between washes which reduces the wear and tear that comes with cleaning and extends its overall lifespan.

The Bosch FreshUp’s rechargeable battery is good for up to 60 minutes of de-stinking on a full charge, and it can be topped up with a USB cable so it sounds like an especially useful device for traveling when there will be long breaks between showers or visits to a laundromat.

It won’t ship until sometime in May but the FreshUp can be pre-ordered now for around $222, but that’s actually a discounted price because for some reason Bosch, a global technology supplier with revenues of over $84.3 billion dollars in 2020, is bringing the device to consumers through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Instead of a funding goal, the campaign will only be realized with 500 backers, and at the time of writing the FreshUp was 82% on its way to going into production. As far as crowdfunded products go, you probably don’t have to worry about Bosch having any troubles realizing the FreshUp, but according to its Indiegogo page, shipping is only available to the UK and Germany if it’s a success. Hopefully, the company will realize how useful a device this is to the entire world, and will eventually expand its availability.

DISCUSSION

As an engineer in life sciences and filtration, I need you to understand how long you would have to hold a low-powered device like this in one place to see any difference.

1.2 to 1.7 mJ/cm2 will kill 99.9% of airborne COVID when using 222nm wavelength of light. Bosch doesn’t say what they’re using but 222nm is standard. It may also be why they’re pricing this at $222. At it’s discounted or full price, $222 is a huge markup on what it would take to make this.

If we knew anything about the bulb at all, we could conclude how long it would take to hit 1.2 mJ/cm2 . Bosch unfortunately doesn’t provide that information. What they do provide is plenty of anecdotal evidence from a range of genders and races like any snake oil saleman would.

UV is not some wonder-light. It’s not going to just kill organic life instantly and not produce any other ill effects. It will ionize air which will not only create ozone and potentially formaldehyde when it comes in contact with household cleaning liquids, it can mutate viruses and bacteria.

Mark my words: UV-C, ionization, and photocatalytic oxidation are being used en masse as a way to attack illness-causing diseases. That’s a far more dangerous proposition than people getting skin cancer or reducing the life of plastics. These things will kill people and given the ease and low cost of putting UV bulbs in everything and people’s desire to be saved by simple light, it will be widespread before we figure it out.

It’s like everyone forgot why Sharper Image was sued to near-out-of-business because of their tiny ionizers.  Now we just put huge UV bulbs in fans and hand-held devices and call it a day.