GE Appliances, a Haier company, has partnered with Microban® International to develop a new line of washing machines with built-in antimicrobial technology. This uses a three-stage protection plan – ‘Drain. Dry. Defend.’ – against bacterial growth, odor-causing microbes, and product degradation resulting from water residue. Ken Rudolph, Senior Director of Product Management for Clothes Care at GE Appliances, explains the importance of the collaboration, and how it has helped produce innovation that meets consumer needs.
The Company: GE Appliances
Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, GE Appliances is the fastest growing appliance manufacturing company in the US, with an extraordinary 2,333 units built per hour and an appliance delivered globally every 4.5 seconds. The company has more than 100 years of industry experience and has a reputation for creating high quality, innovative products. Their employees, based at nine manufacturing plants across five states, are dedicated to the creation, design, build, service, and delivery of appliances – ranging from conditioning units and ovens to refrigerators and washing machines – that are in half of all US homes. GE Appliances is committed to making life better for its owners, customers and communities, by offering trustworthy products to suit the modern market trends.
The Challenge: Odor and bacterial growth in washing machines
Front and top load washing machines both have their advantages and disadvantages. A major benefit of top loading washers is that water easily drains away once a wash cycle has finished, however, this is offset by the fact that it uses significantly more water and electricity than its front loading counterpart. In stark contrast, front loaders have impressive ‘green’ credentials, but also have the drawback of being closed systems that allow bacteria to harbor in residual water, creating unpleasant odors and limiting the lifetime of the appliance.
The Solution: Freshness throughout wash cycles
In 2016, following its acquisition by Haier, GE Appliances established a clear product development roadmap to include antimicrobial technology, and took this a step further in 2018 by partnering with Microban. Ken explained: “GE Appliances Unmet Needs Research in 2017 revealed compelling data. 46 % of top load users found mold or odor to be the major issue, and 50 % of those consumers decided to switch to top load washers to avoid these problems. We wanted to adequately solve these most common pain points in the industry for customers, which is why we thought of creating a front load washer that is free of odor-causing microbes and requires no extra maintenance to stay fresh. From a clothes care standpoint, it didn’t take us long to see that Microban proprietary antimicrobial technology would help us respond to this demand. The partnership with Microban has been a key strategic part of our success, and we expect this to translate across other product lines. Microban is a reputable household name that customers are familiar with and, in the post-pandemic world, this powerful innovation is even more critical. We are pleased with our ongoing relationship with Microban, and even more impressed with the performance and efficacy of the antimicrobial technology.”
Three-stage innovation – Drain. Dry. Defend.
The result of the partnership is the new Ultrafresh Front Load line of washers, which incorporates a three-stage protection plan against bacterial growth and odors. The first step of the solution involves the drainage of residual water to evacuate excess moisture, and this is achieved by a wider gasket that is angled to ensure that all the water properly drains at the end of each wash cycle. The next phase is drying out the inside of the washing machine while the door is closed, using the UltraFresh Vent System with OdorBlock™, which creates a revolutionary new airflow at the touch of a button. Fresh air is circulated after the cycle to expel any moisture from the door, gasket and basket. Last – but certainly not least – the washers are protected by Microban antimicrobial technology. The chemistry is integrated into the gasket, dispenser, and pump at the stage of manufacture, protecting the washer from bacterial growth, helping to prevent odors, and prolonging the lifetime of the product.
Ken concluded: “Since the launch, we’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response in reviews and ratings. Microban patented technology was critical in customers’ decisions to purchase, and they're delighted with the feature as it gives them added peace of mind. We are the proud recipients of the Good Housekeeping Seal. It's an honor to be recognized for engineering the first and only front load washer with the UltraFresh Vent System with OdorBlock. More recently, we’ve had a lot of questions about the sanitization of our appliances from front-line workers in emergency services, which is why we started a campaign called GEA4Heroes. It just goes to show that inclusion of antimicrobial properties in all products is becoming a standard and an expectation.”
GE Appliances also took home the Best of KBIS 2020 award for the UltraFresh Front Load Washer with OdorBlock™, recognized for the innovative solution to a long-standing problem that complements ergonomic and aesthetic preferences.
Benefits of Microban® antimicrobial technologies in GE Appliances UltraFresh Front Load washer
- Microban antimicrobial technology works 24/7, protecting the UltraFresh Front Load washers from bacterial growth and odors, and helping to prevent product degradation.
- The added protection from Microban stays in the product throughout its whole lifetime, as the antimicrobial solution does not wash off or wear away. This means that the machine can be used for years with the same level of brand-new feeling as on the day it was purchased.
- GE Appliances’ customers benefit from enhanced cleanliness and confidence, knowing that their clothes are washed in machines that are fresh and free from odors.
- UltraFresh Front Load washers are backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal, which gives GE Appliances’ customers an added level of reassurance.
- Microban's in-house regulatory department and marketing team has a comprehensive knowledge of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) policies to guide partners with their antimicrobial claims across multiple distribution regions around the world.