The Water-Free South African Bathing Solution

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions


As the world’s population grows from its current 7 billion to a projected 9 billion in 2050 (UN), competition for access to the Earth’s resources will become fiercer. The most essential resource for life on the planet – and an increasingly precious resource – is water. Water is necessary for the very survival of humans, animals and plants, and is also used in vast quantities by industries and farms.

As demand increases, water resources will need to be conserved more and more, while clever ways will have to be developed to use less water. And there is also another factor to consider for the world’s poor: many millions live in very constrained conditions in urban and rural areas. For their health and dignity, the ability to wash every day is critical. Being clean is vital to being able to economically advance in life: it is something that sounds obvious but is often not a possibility for many millions of people living in slums.

Many will face lives where water is an uncertain resource that will be either expensive to purchase or will require lots of labour to obtain.

Anyone who can come up with a way to help bring the dignity of being clean and healthy while also saving water is onto a winner.

A clever South African, Ludwick Marishane, has developed a clear gel that works like soap and water but doesn’t need H2O to get a person clean.

The product is called DryBath ( and uses a “proprietary blend of a biocide, bioflavonoids and moisturisers.” It differs from common liquid hand anti-bacterial cleanser products that people use to sterilize hands. Those products use alcohol to simultaneously sterilize germs and evaporate the liquid.

DryBath works in a different way by not requiring water or alcohol to complete the washing. The liquid gel is odourless, biodegradable and moisturises and does not need to be rinsed off. It instead leaves users smelling fresh and “tackles the hygiene and water consumption problems in a manner that has never been used before.”

It also comes in a special package developed in South Africa. EasySnap™ sachets allow users to quickly snap the package and dispense the solution on to their hands to have a wash. EasySnap is a rectangular sachet that is snapped in the middle to open.

Marishane, a 22-year-old student at the University of Cape Town, told Reuters that the idea for DryBath came to him when he was a teenager living in his rural home. It was wintertime and his friend didn’t want to bother washing because there was no hot water available.

“He was lazy and he happened to say, ‘why doesn’t somebody invent something that you can just put on your skin and you don’t have to bathe’,” Marishane said.

That was when the light bulb went off in his head.

Intrigued, he started doing research on his web-enabled mobile phone. He trawled through the search engine Google and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to find what would work as a water-free wash. After six months of research, he came up with the formula for DryBath and acquired a patent.

Now the strategy of Headboy Industries Inc. ( – the company set up by Marishane – is to sell DryBath to corporate clients and in turn donate a free sachet for each sale to DryBath’s global charity partners, who will distribute DryBath to poor communities either for free or at a subsidized cost.

Marishane believes his product will be particularly popular with certain industries: flight crews and passengers on airlines; hotels looking to save on water usage; the military for soldiers serving in the field; and NGOs and charities providing services to poor communities, in particular during emergency situations when it is difficult to provide a reliable water supply.

Marishane has won several awards for his invention, including Global Champion of the Global Student Entrepreneurs Awards 2011, and is considered South Africa’s youngest patent holder.

“DryBath will go a long way in helping communities,” he believes.


1) How to register for a patent in South Africa. Website:

2) SABS Design Institute: The SABS Design Institute promotes the benefits of good design in order to stimulate the economic and technological development of South Africa. Website:


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