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Electrolux is testing Uber-like laundry machine sharing

Would you let strangers use your washer and dryer?
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
November 29, 2016
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Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

You can already get rides from strangers and rent their rooms, but what if you could use their washers and dryers? Electrolux thinks it's worth a shot. CEO Jonas Samuelson tells the Financial Times that the appliance giant is testing a "laundry Uber" where you could pay to clean your clothes at someone else's home. This would require an abundance of connected machines to be viable, but it would help you recoup some of the cost of expensive equipment that stays idle most of the week.

The company isn't blind to the potential legal and technical hurdles with a service like this. Who covers the costs if the machines shrink your new sweater? What about security or long-term technical compatibility? We'd add other concerns as well. Does the homeowner have to accommodate you while you're waiting for your clothes, for example? And how do you make sure that people don't buy properties just to turn them into makeshift laundromats, much as some have converted apartments and houses into illegal Airbnb hotels?

Samuelson doesn't say how well the tests are going, or provide a timetable for when you could see Electrolux offer a public-facing service. However, it wouldn't be surprising if the company goes forward once it addresses key issues. Electrolux and other appliance makers aren't exactly seeing a surge of demand, and a sharing option might spark interest. After all, you might be more likely to buy a pricey washer/dryer combo if you know that it won't cost you that much in the long run.

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