Is this the end for kitchen-sink dramas? Swedish design firm creates self-cleaning plate...

... but it’s not approved for use yet

Jamie Merrill
Sunday 05 January 2014 01:00 GMT

It's the question we all fear after a gut-busting Sunday roast; whose turn is it to tackle the mound of dishes festering in the sink? Now, though, a revolutionary self-cleaning plate created by a Swedish design firm could make this anxiety a thing of the past.

Designed by the Stockholm-based Tomorrow Machine studio, the plate is made from a cellulose pulp which is pressed in a heated mould. A "super-hydrophobic" coating is then applied – this means it's extremely difficult to get wet – making it impervious to even the thickest gravy or heartiest soup.

According to Tomorrow Machine, this coating is created using a process called "Rapid Expansion of Supercritical Solutions" which involves dissolving wax in carbon dioxide at high temperatures and pressures. The firm is quiet about the exact science behind this, but claims the resulting kitchen equipment repels all dirt and liquid.

"Hopefully this process will mean we can say goodbye to washing up for ever, because it's completely based on how nature cleans itself," Hanna Billqvist, a designer for Tomorrow Machine, said.

"It mimics the surface of a lotus leaf with a special surface that is self-cleaning if water or dirt falls on it."

This new form of cellulose material, commissioned by the Swedish forestry organisation, is lightweight and malleable but hardens in a similar way to ceramics so is durable enough for the domestic kitchen.

Ms Billqvist says that existing self-cleaning techniques use "not good chemicals" while Tomorrow Machine’s new technique is eco-friendly. However it still requires further testing before it can be approved for use with food.

Daniel Doherty, executive chef at 24-hour Duck & Waffle restaurant in the City of London, isn't convinced, despite 7,000 dishes a week being washed in his restaurant.

"Not washing plates would not be worth the clip round the ear from my mother, and to be honest, I understand why. I like china plates, and I like cleaning them with hot suds," he said. "Maybe my being somewhat traditional, or normal, some may say, may leave me behind, but I'm happy to take the risk."

Jeanette Orrey OBE, who was a dinner lady for 20 years before founding the Food for Life Partnership to improve food education in schools, is more positive: "It would have been a life-saver if I'd had this, as we could be washing upwards of 12,000 plates and pans a day. Just think how much money on energy and water we could save to put towards better school meals."

Ms Billqvist wouldn't say how much the plate cost to develop or how long it would take to bring to market, but she hoped it would eventually cut water and chemical usage and be "used in drought-affected countries in places such as Africa where it could have a real benefit."

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