Pedal Power Brings Clean Clothes To Poor

A winner in the Spark: Concept-Fall-Winter design contest, the GiraDora—a pedal-powered clothes washing and drying system—is the collaborative result of innovative design and implementation at the user level. By Designmatters, Art Center College of Design, Safe Agua Projects, the concept—originated by students Alex Cabunoc and Ji A You—was fleshed out in field trials by the women of Cerro Verde, a 30,000-strong slum on the hills surrounding Lima, Peru.

For these women, clean clothing was not merely a status symbol but a necessity if their children were to do well in school and their spouses to get jobs in Lima’s public sector. Unfortunately, getting those clothes clean on a washboard took up to six hours a day, as often as five days a week, leaving little time left over to find part-time work to supplement meager family finances, let alone cook and clean and perform all the other tasks that fall to a wife and mother.


image via Art Center College and Design

When Cabunoc and You showed these women their washing and spin-drying machines, the women of Cerro Verde came up with an improvement: combine the two operations in a single machine, thus allowing even the smallest women to use the muscles in their legs (the strongest in the female body) to agitate, rinse and spin-dry a load of laundry.

The solution was pure genius, and the result is an off-grid, affordable ($40), water-saving laundry machine that uses centrifugal force and ergonomic principles (seated, with legs flexed) to reduce the back pain and injuries that result from squatting over a wash basin, as well as the hand and wrist strains incurred from repeatedly rubbing clothing on a ridged board placed below waist level. The GiraDora also has the advantage of being usable indoors, in rainy weather, or outdoors, next to a water source (rather than hauling water back to the shelter).


  • Reply February 29, 2012

    Alex Cabunoc

    If you’re interested in learning more about the project, research or design process, we created a 1 minute video about GiraDora that you can view here:

    • Reply February 29, 2012


      Thanks for letting us know about the video, Alex. It’s now available for viewing with the story, as well.
      (Pete Danko, EarthTechling)

  • Reply August 17, 2012

    Holly Mumford Bender

    Hello Alex,
    I was wondering if it would be possible to purchase or have the GiraDora shipped to an APO address. This is exactly what our military in remote locations needs. Any help that you could provide would be so greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time and help.

    • Reply August 21, 2012

      Jessica Rupe

      I agree with Holly. This would be great for our troops who are deployed.

    • Reply August 22, 2012

      Alex Cabunoc

      Hi Holly, This is a great suggestion. A first actually. Right now we are still in the development phase so it’s not ready yet to ship. However, once we are ready, I don’t see why we couldn’t figure out some sort of way to get GiraDora to our troops if they wanted one. Until it is ready, we have created a Facebook page to receive updates on the progress of GiraDora. It can be found at I’ve also made a mailing list for those interested in receiving updates by email. Please email me at if you would like to be put on the list. Please stay tuned for more updates!

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