In these times of eco awareness, the amount of water our washers use is of concern.

Manufacturers are trying new designs that use less and less water, but scientists in Leeds have come up with a radical rehaul - a washing machine that cleans clothes by pounding them with plastic chips.

The Xeros could save billions of litres of water a year as it uses less than 2% of the water – and energy – of a conventional model.

And it also leaves clothes nearly dry, so you won't need a tumble drier anymore.

The plastic chips remove and absorb dirt, and can get rid of practically every stain, claims the team at Leeds University.

And they can be used up to 100 times, which is the equivalent of 6 months' washing.

Professor Stephen Burkinshaw invented the machine explains: "The performance of the Xeros process in cleaning clothes has been quite astonishing".

"We've 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 machines."

Xeros, the company developing and marketing the machine, says it could be on the UK market as early as 2009.