Skip to main content

Genius or extraneous? We tried out a laundry-folding machine at CES to find out

Foldimate
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re like me, folding laundry is the worst of the worst when it comes to chores. OK, maybe it’s not as bad as having to scrub your toilet. But it’s still a pain in the you-know-what, especially when you have a big pile to deal with.

Foldimate, an automatic laundry-folding machine, aims to make life easier by doing much of the work for you. While the device made an appearance at CES last year as a non-working machine, at CES the company debuted an actual working prototype with a slimmer design. I got a chance to take it for a spin, and while it worked well, I left the experience asking myself: Is this product really necessary?

What do you think about #Foldimate, the laundry folding machine? Would you use one? I was excited to try it out at #CES2019 @DigitalTrends pic.twitter.com/BIKz0hVHSW

— Kim Wetzel (@kimdogg) January 7, 2019

Before we get to that, though, here’s an explainer on how it works: the appliance stands about four feet high. You put a shirt or a pair of pants into a couple of pinchers on each end of a tray that grab the clothing item and pull it into the machine. The machine then magically folds each item, spitting it out in a perfectly folded stack on a tray on the bottom of the device. It takes about 10-15 seconds per shirt or pair of pants.

Just to be clear, I didn’t put my own clothing into the machine (no, I’m not going to carry my laundry around on the CES floor), but instead relied on the clothing provided at Foldimate’s booth. The device easily sucked in the items and spat out a stack of nicely folded clothing.

There are limitations to what you can put in Foldimate: It won’t accept bed sheets or underwear, and if you’re looking for someone to magically mate all those bonus socks in your drawer, you’re out of luck. I should also add that this appliance won’t come cheap: the price is tentatively set at $960 with a release date of around the end of 2019.

So, back to the original question: Do we really need this device? I posted a short video of the Foldimate in action and asked that very question. And as it happens, many viewers responded with a resounding “Yes!”

“Hell yeah,” wrote @Jake_fromKC. “this is everything I hate about laundry, fixed.”

More CES 2019 coverage

Other viewers, though, not so much. A few noted that this device attempts to solve a problem that isn’t really a problem. Others disagreed, noting that that Foldimate would be an excellent helper for those with disabilities, which is a very valid point.

So, after seeing this machine in use, I find I agree with everyone who’s weighed in on my Twitter post about the machine. Yes, it’s cool. Yes, it’s perhaps a bit extraneous. Yes, it’s solving a problem that doesn’t exist. And yes, it definitely could help people with disabilities. In other words, it’s right at home at CES 2019, where some of the tech is all about cool, extraneous, gadgets that are both impressive and often rather unnecessary.

Would I buy one? Maybe if the price comes down, and if it’s upgraded so that users can just throw all their laundry in at once rather than feeding the machine one shirt at a time. Until then, guess I’ll have to stick with folding clothes the old-fashioned way.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Kim Wetzel
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Before joining Digital Trends as Home Editor, Kim was an adjunct journalism professor at Linfield College and high school…
Best vacuum deals: Cordless to corded, Dyson to Bissell
LG CordZero all in one stick vacuum with auto empty dock.

You can’t keep a house clean without a good vacuum, and while adding one of the best robot vacuums to your smart home can keep things tidy most of the time, it can still be helpful to have a more traditional vacuum on-hand. The best vacuums are going to offer more power and more control, and right now you can get one with some pretty impressive savings. There are a lot of vacuum deals going on, and they include top names like Dyson and Bissell and popular styles like corded and cordless. Below you’ll find all of the best vacuum deals you can shop right now, as well as some information on how each goes about getting the job done.
Black + Decker 3-in-1 corded vacuum — $30, was $40

This 3-in-1 corded vacuum by Black + Decker is a great entry-level vacuuming option. It’s something to consider if you have hardwood floors or small spaces to keep clean, such as dorm rooms and apartments. Still it can handle things like area rugs, low-pie carpeting, stairs, upholstery, and car interiors. It has an ultra-light design that makes it easy to move around, as well as easy-glide wheels that make vacuuming easy as well.

Read more
Best air purifier deals: Save big on Dyson, Shark, TCL and more
A Germ Guardian purifier placed on a living room floor.

While dust, debris, and pet dander are almost always in the air, with the warmer seasons come all sorts of allergens to be concerned about as well. You don’t have to go after one of the best air purifiers to keep the air in your home clean, as even more affordable air purifiers work well enough to make them worth your while. This is especially true when you factor in some savings, and there’s a lot of air purifier deals taking place right now. We’ve rounded up all of the best air purifier deals below. They include the likes of Dyson, Shark, and other brands making the top smart home devices right now, so read onward for more information on how to save on a new air purifier.
Alrocket HEPA Air Purifier -- $39, was $70

Excellent for a nightstand, the counter, or an end table. this relatively small air purifier offers cleaning for up to 215 square feet. H13 level HEPA filtration ensures that most odors and contaminants are eliminated, with microscopic particles captured, to provide relief to asthma sufferers and beyond. It is relatively simple, so there are no smart features or serious programmable modes, but that's okay. A touch-based control panel on the top, with LED indicators, allows you to adjust the system's timer, indicator lights, and power. You can add your essential oils or fragrances to the top to help disperse a more aromatic scent.

Read more
Best air conditioner deals: Portable and window units on sale
The GE 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner cools a living room while a woman reads.

With the rising temperatures of spring and summer can come the frustrations of tossing and turning at night, sweating in the late afternoons, and simply trying to keep cool during the dog days of summer. Both portable air conditioners and windows units are great options if you don’t have central air, and they’re particularly attractive for apartments, dorms, offices, and if you just have a room or two to cool off. Right now you can land some good savings on air conditioners of all kinds from top air conditioner brands like Frigidaire and GE. We’ve rounded up all of the best air conditioner deals currently taking place, so read onward for more details.
Evapolar evaCHILL — $85, was $99

The Evapolar evaCHILL provides personal comfort on a small scale. At just 6.77 x 6.69 x 6.69 inches, it is highly portable and perfect for taking with you on camping trips or other excursions. To use it, just fill up its 800mL tank, which provides about 8 hours of continuous use (though customers report lower times for high-heat scenarios). This makes it perfect for getting to sleep. Plus, since it uses water as a source of chill, it can double as a humidifier. The Evapolar evaCHILL charges via USB cable and consumes less than 10W of power.

Read more