Review: The Venus portable washing machine is a budget gadget that does its job well
A portable, bucket mounted washing machine that is available at a fraction of the cost of a traditional one. That was enough reason to doubt the performance of Venus, an innovative product offering by Vimbas Navrachana. Because if it's too good to be true, it's usually is. But seeing the pile of unwashed laundry I finally gave in and decided to place an order.
But how do you order such innovative product? A quick Google search generated a bunch of options. The product is yet to be launched in traditional supply chains (with the company aiming for a Rs 1,500 price tag). But it is widely available in the parallel ones. I found about four to five websites for this machine as well as multiple seller entries on Olx, Quikr and eBay. Then there was also the official Vimbas website.
I contacted few websites but it turned out that most of them were asking me to transfer the amount in an individual account, not one owned by a company. I am usually wary of such transactions. Vimbas is yet to start its distribution but informally they are selling few to friends and acquaintances but at a premium. So I finally placed my order via eBay (it cost me Rs 2,499), at least there was the PaisaPay protection.
It took about a week for the product to get delivered but the packaging was good. I was not very sold to the idea that it will work properly. I was half expecting it to be a bogus innovation which at the very first try, will make me repent my decision to buy it. Anyway, I tried with some normal daily wear clothes and tested it. The moment of truth was finally there. I was pleasantly shocked at the results. It actually worked!
From the first run I understood few things. You need a bigger bucket to run it smoothly (a 25 litre one should suffice). In a smaller bucket there will be restricted space for the machine to work properly. Also you might need to get your hands wet to work on tough stains such as those on the collar and cuffs of a shirt. But for rest of the process, the machine will do well.
But can the Venus washing machine tackle a pair of dirty jeans?
I soaked my dirtiest pair in warm water overnight and the next morning mounted the Venus on the biggest bucket I own. I applied my experience, scrubbed the jeans and put in the bucket. After a washing cycle of five minutes and rinsing it in a bucket of clean water, I found the denim to be cleaner than I have seen in recent memory.
Encouraged by the results, I tried it on other stuff. Venus is good for cleaning even larger items such as bed sheets or curtains. And one can even wash napkins, doormats or washcloths. But as per the Vimbas website, their main target market are the millions of women in poor families who are currently forced to wash clothes by hand. But will this machine suffice for such a family?
In a washing cycle of five minutes, it can clean two three standard clothes. It can be run for maximum thirty minutes in a day. Many of the poor family members will be engaged in manual labour resulting in staining their clothes with mud or dirt. On top of that the average family size and being sensitive to power consumption will they welcome Venus?
I doubt that sales people will carry this heavy machine to do their laundry at hotels instead of paying the laundry bill while on tour.
The consumer segment that this washing machine will be highly beneficial to are single men and women, bachelors and students who are living alone and for whom weekend equals doing the laundry.