The system uses plastic granules that are tumbled with the clothes to remove stains and requires as little as one cup of water for each wash cycle.

It is claimed that the system could deliver environmental benefits in the drycleaning industry by offering an alternative to solvent cleaning

The system will be marketed by Xeros, a spin-off company from the University, founded by Professor Stephen Burkinshaw, the professor of textile chemistry at Leeds. Martin Gregson, formerly technical director for the Johnson Service Group, has joined as non-executive director.

Burkinshaw said the system’s performance is “quite astonishing”, matching the performance of conventional machines. He said: “We have shown that it can remove all sorts of everyday stains, including coffee and lipstick, while using a tiny fraction of the water used by conventional washing machines.”

Xeros has secured £500,000 of investment from Leeds University’s commercialisation partner IP Group and is in talks with several large players in the washing machine industry.