J-STORIES - Established in 2013 in Chiba, just east of Tokyo, Wash-plus is a laundromat operator that uses alkaline electrolyzed water instead of detergent to wash clothes. It has teamed up with a major hotel chain, Hoshino Resort, to gradually introduce environment and allergy friendly laundry services at the resort’s facilities in Japan.
The alkaline ionized water used by Wash-plus’s unique laundromats helps cut their water consumption by about 30 percent. That's because one less rinse is required than at conventional laundromats. The washing time is shorter and less electricity is required. Since there is no detergent residue, those with allergies or sensitive skin can wash their clothes without worry.
The company has also begun rolling out a “smart laundry” system that connects smartphone apps to laundromat equipment via the IoT (Internet of Things). This allows it to provide customers with services such as finishing time notifications and usage points.
Hoshino Resort is focusing on “eco-tourism” that promotes the preservation of the local environment and heritage. Iriomotejima Hotel, which aims to be the first “eco-tourism resort” in Japan, will be the first place to fully feature wash+ services. Starting this April, OMO7 Osaka and other hotels have begun gradually introducing the service.
Washers and dryers have been modified to take into account usage conditions in each hotel. What’s more, because users can’t currently check whether machines are free or whether their laundry is finished without being physically present, the company hopes to provide highly convenient services that utilize IoT technology and electronic payments.
Meanwhile, wash-plus started a system in April at 20 of its directly managed stores to spread out customer usage according to the time and weather conditions. For example, the system, which is based on customer behavior data obtained from the “Smart Laundry” application, will offer discounted rates on sunny days when there are relatively few customers.
CEO Kentaro Takanashi is also keen to expand overseas. He told J-Stories that he has already obtained a patent for alkaline electrolyzed water in the U.S. and would like to move into the Hawaiian market, where business negotiations were temporarily suspended during the coronavirus pandemic.
Translation and Editing by Tony McNicol
Top page photo credit: wash-plus website
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