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Image credit: Kris Naudus (AOL/Engadget)

This self-cleaning bag freshens up your smelly gym clothes

Paqsule can remove the stink, though not the sweat stains.
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Kris Naudus (AOL/Engadget)

At my age it's important to get to the gym on a regular basis, but it's hard to find the time. It's just as difficult to get around to doing laundry, which means I tend to get stuck carrying a bag of sweaty, smelly gym wear. But maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I owned a Paqsule, a new self-cleaning bag making its debut on Kickstarter today. It uses UV light and activated oxygen to kill off viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms, making your clothes a whole lot fresher -- maybe even enough for another go-around on the treadmill.

The Paqsule is a pretty normal-looking bag, with a black-and-gray vinyl exterior studded with pockets and straps. The buckles are all metal, and the surface can be wiped clean in case of spills -- no, it doesn't clean itself. There's even a place to store your cellphone for easy access, which should come in handy when it's time to make use of the Paqsule's self-cleaning feature. The process is controlled via the app, which lets you select the duration, either 15, 25 or 35 minutes depending on the type of item you're sanitizing and how dirty it is. You can also have it turn on automatically depending on the time, like if you go to the gym at the same hour every day.

Unfortunately, it doesn't use GPS or any other location tracking, so you can't have it start cleaning the minute you leave the gym with your sweaty clothes. However, Paqsule CMO Ravid Yosef told me that future iterations may have geolocation, not only so it will start the cleaning cycle when you get to your home or office but also so you can track your bag at the airport.

Gallery: Paqsule hands-on | 11 Photos

What it can do right now is pretty impressive though. When you close the bag fully and activate the PaqTech process, the Paqsule shines short-wave ultraviolet light on the contents, then creates and circulates O3 throughout the compartment. Both of these elements have antimicrobial properties: Short-wavelength UV is mutagenic to microorganisms while the activated oxygen damages their cell walls.

Because this process uses no water or detergent, you can leave pretty much anything in the bag with your clothes, like books or device chargers. It's even food safe, so you don't have to worry about that sandwich and fruit you packed for lunch. However, you should wait about five minutes after the cleaning cycle ends, as some individuals may have a sensitivity to activated oxygen and it takes a bit for the air to settle down and convert back into regular oxygen (O2).

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Paqsule claims the bag will kill 99.99 percent of the organisms inside. I didn't have a microscope handy to verify these claims -- just a stinky pair of jeans I'd been wearing for the past few days to work. Yes, I was planning to throw them in the washer soon, but why not let the Paqsule take a crack first? There was certainly enough sweat and New York subway grime on them. Yosef set the bag up for a 15-minute cycle and let it run. Ideally heavier clothing like denim as well as sports gear and medical braces would get a longer cycle, either 25 or the full 35 minutes.

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Even after 15 minutes, though, there was a noticeable difference in how the jeans smelled. The company likes to talk about how the air after a summer rain is loaded with activated oxygen, creating a unique scent -- the kind detergent companies try to replicate in their products. And yeah, maybe there was a bit of outdoor freshness in my pants when I inspected them. There was also a faint chemical whiff, probably some lingering ozone. What was absent, however, was the biological stink that they had possessed 20 minutes earlier. It was a definite improvement, and I wouldn't have minded wearing them again. Still, Paqsule can't replace a proper machine wash, especially since it doesn't remove stains.

Gym nuts and anyone else who finds herself carrying around a bag of dirty clothes more often than she'd like will be able to pick up the Paqsule via Kickstarter at an early bird price of $229, a big discount from the projected price of $349.

Kris runs Engadget's awesome product database with an iron fist. She's also written stuff for Anime Insider and Anime News Network, as well as completed a rather lengthy stint editing Pokémon things for The Pokémon Company. She still plays the games and seriously can't believe there are 802 Pokémon now.

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